Like any other athlete, professional tennis players are susceptible to injuries. However, it is rare to hear that a pro tennis player is out of commission because of tennis elbow. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why tennis elbow is not prevalent among the pros and what you can do to prevent this condition.
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects the outer side of the elbow. The pain is caused by overuse of the wrist extensor tendons, which attach to the lateral aspect of the elbow. Tennis elbow is common among recreational tennis players. However, it can affect anyone who performs repetitive wrist movements, such as chefs, painters and pianists. Like most tendinopathies, the healing time can be long. Full recovery can take between 6 weeks and 12 months.
Why pro tennis players don't get it?
Considering how much time pro tennis players spend training, it could be assumed that they are at high risk of getting tennis elbow, right? However, it turns out that recreational players have higher chances of developing this condition.
The main reasons why pro players don't often get tennis elbow are:
Conditioning and training: Pro tennis players have been training consistently for all their life. Their bodies adapted to the stress required to perform at the highest levels. Furthermore, they spend a few hours a week in the gym to strengthen their muscles in order to minimize the risk of injuries.
Technique: Pro players have dedicated hundreds of hours of training to master their form and technique. They know how to engage their core and shoulder strength to generate power. In this way, they reduce the risk of overusing their arm muscles.
Age: As we get older, it is more common to develop overuse injuries. Most pro players are under 35 year old.
What can you do to minimize the risk of developing tennis elbow?
First of all, if you just started playing or you are getting back to tennis after a long break, it is advisable that you ease into the activity. Have short training sessions with a few days of rest in between, and gradually increase the frequency and intensity. Secondly, condition your body by doing some resistance training exercises twice a week. Focus on strengthening your wrist extensors, shoulder rotator cuff and core muscles. Finally, consider getting a sports massage on a regular basis to ease off the muscle tension.
Tennis elbow is a common problem among people who play racket sports. Older age and spikes in training volume can increase the risk of injury, and the recovery time can be slow and frustrating. However, by taking the right precautions we can minimize the risk of developing this painful condition and enjoy playing the game as we age.
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