By Steve Evans, East Glos tennis coach
As optimism grows about a possible return to playing tennis soon, I wondered what the effect might be on some of our not-so-young bodies which are used to regular tennis, and how we can avoid injury.
I consulted club member Dr Rod Jacques, a specialist in sports medicine, and he said, “I think the biggest risk in a group of moderately fit people getting back to playing tennis is Achilles tendon injury. While muscle strains can settle very quickly, tendons, during the de-training phases do get smaller and are therefore more vulnerable.”
Exercises you can do now
Rod advised that we keep our tendons stretched by the simple device of standing barefoot on a stair or step and lowering the heel (I also use this as a calf stretch). Also, stretch the calf and tendon before playing.
Tips for when you return to tennis
My own advice, as one with a body that will take some time to get used to playing again, is to take it easy in the first few sessions. Our natural inclination will be to celebrate being back on court by going at it hammer and tongs.
Spend plenty of time on the short court hit – this will also give you a chance to catch up with friends you have been missing during lockdown; hit some gentle groundstrokes for much longer than your normal knock-up; beware of sudden quick movements or changes of direction.
And most of all; take care of your shoulder when serving – don’t go for that 130mph ace until you’re back to full fitness. Warm it up slowly and stick to an easy rhythm – as with everything else, take it slow and easy before you get too competitive.