The Most Common Tennis Injuries

As much as we’d like them to be, tennis injuries just are not avoidable. If you play, it’s likely that eventually you’ll end up hurt. Hand-eye coordination, cardiovascular endurance, complex musculoskeletal participation, and flexibility are all tested when taking the court.

Most Common Tennis Injuries

Rotator cuff tendinitis

  • an overuse injury which causes the area to become inflamed
  • results from excessive overhead serving
  • affects the muscles and tendons originating from the shoulder blade (scapula), attaching to the upper arm bone or humerus
  • treated with ice, rest, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs), i.e. ibuprofen
  • a physician should be consulted if the condition lasts more than a week

Tennis elbow, or lateral humeral epicondylitis

  • due to inflammation or small tears of the forearm muscles and tendons on the lateral side of the elbow
  • faulty backhand technique, especially overemphasizing the wrist, can overload the forearm muscles and cause the affliction
  • treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) as well as NSAIDs
  • surgery may be required if condition becomes chronic

Back pain

  • often results from improper technique, such as an exaggerated, arched, or swaybacked posture during execution of the serve which cause stress to the small joints and soft tissues of the spine
  • more critical in older players, who may develop progressive stiffness and arthritis
  • treated with rest and standard anti-inflammatories and analgesics

Knee pain

  • pain to the anterior (front) portion of the knee is the most common
  • caused by chondromalacia (a softening of the cartilage) of the knee cap or patella or tendonitis, usually at the patellar tendon
  • more common in professional players or elite recreational players
  • treatment usually requires a RICE regimen, complemented with NSAIDs; physical therapy for knee strengthening may also be advised

Calf and Achilles tendon injuries

  • can result from an overload of pushing off with the foot while the leg is fully extended
  • overuse of the tendon can produce Achilles tendonitis, involving painful inflammation
  • in severe cases, the Achilles tendon can rupture with a snap
  • treatment requires casting and sometimes surgery. Tearing of calf muscles is also common, requiring RICE treatment and avoidance of athletic activity

Ankle sprains

  • the outer ligaments of the ankle are the most common to become sprained
  • treatment involves RICE for 24 to 36 hours, after which the ankle should be supported with bracing to avoid re-sprain
  • severe bruising or excessive swelling following a sprain should receive prompt medical attention

Tennis toe

  • results from toes being jammed too tight against the toebox of the shoe, especially during abrupt starts and stops a painful hemorrhage under the toenail
  • treatment may involve drilling through the toenail by a physician in order to release pressure

Keep the following points in mind to help prevent most common tennis injuries:

Agility drills, along with flexibility and strength training can help prevent loss of balance and stress to muscles, joints, and tendons.

Help prevent tennis elbow by using a two-handed backhand which reduces stress on the muscles attaching to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, and by selecting the proper racket and grip size for your skill and build.

An enhanced “sweet spot,” which causes less muscle stress, can be found on the stiffer graphite-type rackets with larger heads.


If you have questions about tennis safety or have sustained a tennis injury and want some advice from our tennis coaches, contact the front desk to make an appointment.