One of the great challenges of working with professional tennis players is the fact that the sport is played on a variety of surfaces. Just like other variables that factor into injuries, playing surface lends itself to its own injury trends. We are just beginning the US Open Series which is a group of hard court tournaments leading up to the US Open. The players have just come back after the post Wimbledon break and are starting the long grind to the final grand slam of the year.
The majority of the tournaments on the WTA calendar are played on hard courts. The year begins in Austraila with a series of hard court events before moving to Europe and the clay season. The shortest number of events are played on grass and then the season shifts back to the hard court to end the year. With each change of surface, new stresses are placed on the body as the athlete gets accustomed to the new style of game. Unlike clay where we see more shoulder issues along with adductor problems from the sliding that is the trademark of the surface, grass lends itself to sore glutes and legs because the players must get lower to hit the balls that tend to bounce lower. Hard court events come with their own set of challenges. The trends tend to be more foot, ankle and knee problems along with lower extremity muscle strains. This is due to the intense stop and start nature of the hard court game. The surface is less forgiving than the other two and puts more stress on the body.
As a massage therapist working with these amazing athletes, we must understand the trends based on the surfaces to be sure to provide the most effective care possible.
Check out this video on one way we can help deal with the stresses of tennis