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Tennis Elbow and Beyond: Protecting Your Hands and Wrists in Racquet Sports

Tennis Elbow and Beyond: Protecting Your Hands and Wrists in Racquet Sports
Tennis Elbow and Beyond: Protecting Your Hands and Wrists in Racquet Sports

As we get into the swing of summer, racquet sports are picking back up. With sports like tennis, racquetball, pickleball, padel, squash, and more, there are plenty of opportunities to get active and have fun. But while playing these racquet sports, make sure to take precautions to protect your elbow, hands, and wrist from injury!

Racquet sports are notorious for injuries to the upper extremities due to the fast-paced nature of the games and the repetitive swinging motions required to play. Overuse injuries, such as tennis elbow, tendonitis, and ligament tears, are the most prevalent types of injury affecting the elbow, hands, and wrist. Fortunately, these injuries are avoidable with proper prevention methods

Let’s discuss the best ways to protect the joints of your upper extremity in racquet sports:

  • Use Proper Equipment: Checking if you have proper and fitting equipment is essential to avoid injury. For example, grip sizes in racquet sports vary from person to person, so knowing what grip size works for your hand size is important. Also, improper shoes can put you at risk of a fall which could result in an acute injury to your hand, wrist, or elbow.
  • Warm-up: Warming up your body is a non-negotiable if you want to prevent injury. Taking 5 minutes before your sport to warm up will help increase your blood flow to your joints, priming them for activity.
  • Always Stretch: Some of the most common overuse injuries in racquet sports are soft tissue tears. The more flexible your joints are, the less prone they are to these types of injuries. So plan to stretch your upper extremity joints before and after a workout.
  • Incorporate Muscle Building: While it may seem unnecessary, incorporating muscle-building workouts focused around your hand, wrist, and elbow will not only strengthen your game but also your joints. Building muscle around your joints helps to stabilize them and protect them from injury.
  • Practice Good Technique: Good technique will not only help you hit the perfect swing but also help to protect your hand and wrist from injury. If you are hitting incorrectly, your joints can become misaligned and be more prone to injury.
  • Listen to Your Body: Your body often alerts you when an overuse injury is about to occur through pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Therefore, you should listen to the signs your body is signaling and stop what you are doing immediately to avoid injury.

Racquet sports are even more fun when played safely with injury prevention in mind. As a tennis enthusiast dedicated to weekly play, Dr. Shrouder-Henry integrates these tactics into his routine to safeguard against injuries during his matches. If you have more questions or concerns about protecting your upper extremities from injury, Dr. Shrouder-Henry is happy to help guide you!

AUTHOR: Jason Shrouder-Henry MD, MBA is a Board Certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder throughout Chicagoland