Tennis is one of those sports that you can play for a lifetime. Many athletes that compete or just recreationally play other sports are sooner or later faced with the difficult moment in their life. Due to their age, they need to quit playing their favorite sport. This is really sad. Tennis, on the other hand, is one of rare sports that seniors can enjoy. Henry Young, tennis player from Australia born in 1923 is still competing in the ITF Seniors Tour. There are competition opportunities for tennis players in many different categories and it’s not rare to see tennis players well into their 70+ age still competing. Sure they need to optimize their game for their age and fitness, but they are still bashing that ball around the court.
This brings us to the dark side of tennis – injuries. Although more gentle on our body than other sports (such as football for example), tennis does come with a range of injuries. The most famous one is surely the tennis elbow.
What is tennis elbow?Tennis elbow is an injury that haunts recreational tennis players all over the world. It’s interesting to know that professional tennis player rarely suffer from this type of injury. This is because the main cause behind tennis elbow is the use of improper tennis technique. Recreational tennis players are usually self-taught and they have never taken tennis lessons. This means that their strokes won’t always be correct, technique wise. Tennis pros teach tennis technique that is natural and that flows in such a way so that our body can handle all the shock that comes from hitting that yellow fuzzy ball around the court. If you don’t use proper technique, then you’re much more likely to get tennis elbow due to overstressing your arm and muscles.
Tennis elbow is essentially an inflammation of the tendons in the forearm that connect with the outside of the elbow. Tennis players are repetitively hitting the ball, and there is a great deal of shock from each hit. When the racquet meets the ball, the shock wave is transmitted through the strings, to the racquet body, flowing down to the handle and finally it reaches our hand and goes through our arm. There is a lot of energy involved here with all the different strokes in tennis.
These vibrations are harmful, and eventually they start making damage to our tendons that are attached at the elbow. Not using correct tennis technique and not playing tennis regularly just makes things worse. Recreational players are known as weekend warriors, so their forearm muscles are weak and often can’t take the stress. They also often don’t use the correct tennis gear to prevent injury.
When you hit the ball, there is a shock wave coming. You can feel it flow through your arm and your body with each shot. These are vibrations generated from the racquet strings hitting the ball. Depending on the strings tension, the vibrations will have a different effect on your elbow. Usually, higher strings tension makes the racquet feel stiff and harsh, while low strings tension is more forgiving and makes racquet feel more comfortable. If you’re suffering from tennis elbow, then you need to find a way to prevent these vibrations from reaching your elbow. Obviously, you can’t eliminate them completely but you can do things to absorb them as much as possible. Did you know that using an overgrip can help you with this? Yes, just get an overgrip and wrap it around the racquet handle. It will present an additional layer of protection and help absorb the energy from each ball impact. Find an overgrip that is thick to absorb more of the energy. You can also consider wrapping two or more overgrips if your condition is more severe. Experiment with using overgrips to lessen the impact tennis game has on your elbow. Over time, this will help you prevent tennis elbow and allow your arm to heal.
It’s a known fact that grip size does play a role when it comes to tennis elbow. Usually, smaller grip sizes are considered more dangerous and can lead to injuries. So, you’ve got a racquet with a grip size that’s just too small? What can you do to prevent injury? Well, first of all you need to make it larger. How to do it without buying a new racquet? Use overgrips! That’s right, you can use overgrips to increase the racquet grip size. Overgrips can be found in many different thickness options. When you wrap an overgrip on your racquet, you make the grip size larger. This is a great hack that anyone can do. You can experiment with putting on two or even more overgrips to increase the grip size. Smaller grip sizes are known to provide interesting performance benefits, but if you’re suffering from tennis elbow or other, wrist related injuries, then this is just not an option. Larger grip size is just safer. The more overgrips you add, the larger the grip size is and more vibrations are absorbed, making the game more easy on your elbow. The downside is that you loose a bit of “feeling”. The feeling is what tennis player call those vibrations produced by hitting the ball. In any case, it’s always better to lose a bit of feeling and/or performance in favor of staying healthy and keeping your tennis elbow under control.
When you do develop tennis elbow or wrist related tennis injuries, it’s really hard to get rid of them. This is why you should pay close attention to using proper tennis gear. Find comfortable strings (synthetic gut ones are recommended for those with tennis elbow), a good racquet and use overgrips. Overgrips are very important as they are sort of protective layer in between the racquet and your hand. Using quality overgrips will help you prevent injuries and also generally enhance your game. Do note that overgrips do not last too long, and even though they visually might seem ok, you should change them at least once a week. This way you make sure that they are doing what they are designed to do in an optimum way. Use overgrips to stay away from injuries and spend more time on the court playing your favorite game.