Tennis is often viewed as one of the safer sports around with a lower risk of injury compared to contact sports. While it may not rank on par with football, hockey or baseball, there's still an inherit risk of bodily harm for players who participate in this sport. So, what preventive measures can tennis players take to protect themselves against injury?
To put the possibility of tennis injuries into perspective, balls hit by the now retired American professional tennis athlete Andy Roddick have been clocked at speeds of 155 miles per hour. Granted, most players are unable to achieve this blazing-fast speed but tennis balls in normal games are still fast enough to cause bodily harm.
How Common Are Tennis Injuries?
According to a study conducted by Sports Medicine Australia (SMA), the overall rate of tennis injuries is 5 injuries per 1,000 hours of playing time. In 2002-2003, there were 505 tennis injuries in Australia that were serious enough to merit hospital treatment.
Injuries can range from pulled muscles in the lower limb areas (ankle, knee, etc.) to muscle strains in the arms and back. Tennis players are also at risk for chronic conditions, such as tendonitis. Failure to properly address and protect the joints during play may gradually worsen these conditions, causing more pain and discomfort.
Wear Protective Gear
Protective gear is essential to preventing tennis-related injury. The average tennis player will run anywhere from 1-5 miles in a typical game; therefore, the right footwear are essential to preventing foot injuries. Tennis players should gear up in a pair of fitted, lightweight, breathable shoes that contour to fit his or her feet. The right shoes can make a world of difference in comfort and mobility, while subsequently protecting the player from injuries like plantar fascia and heel spurs.
Goggles are another type of protective gear that tennis players should consider wearing. Some players take the advice “ keep your eyes on the ball” too literally, suffering injury from direct blows to the eye. Gearing up in protective, shatter resistant goggles, however, will help safeguard against such injury.
Protective sports goggles also offer UV protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Also, depending on a tennis player's position and the time of day, the blinding sun can make it difficult to see but wearing a pair of goggles with dark color tinted lenses (just like sunglasses but with shatter resistant lenses) would reduce the sun's glare in your eyes while protecting your eyes from UV and impact.