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Play safe this summer say physiotherapists

5 July 2005 - 9:10am

Couch potatoes inspired to take up tennis by coverage of Wimbledon should follow a few simple ground rules to avoid injuries warn chartered physiotherapists

Couch potatoes inspired to take up tennis by coverage of Wimbledon should follow a few simple ground rules to avoid injuries warn chartered physiotherapists - the experts in treating sports injuries.

Chartered physiotherapist Mark Bender, who works with the British Davis Cup Tennis Team, says: 'Watching Wimbledon inspires many people to take up tennis but without a few simple precautions they could end up with an injury. Tennis professionals make sure they prepare for their sport by warming up, wearing appropriate footwear and working on their playing technique. To avoid injuries, it's important that the rest of us, whatever our fitness level, do the same.'
Mark recommends the following tips before hitting the tennis courts:

Do ask your doctor for advice before you begin any sporting activity if you are overweight or unfit.
Do prepare your body by warming up before starting to play. Try jogging around the court, and then skip around the court. Follow this by running from the baseline to the service line and back. Then from tramline to the opposite tramline across the court. Then hit up gently until you're ready to start playing.

Don't forget to cool down after exercise to lower the heart rate. This also prevents next-day stiffness by returning blood from the muscles to the general circulation. Try jogging on the spot for five to ten minutes gradually decreasing effort until your heart rate returns to normal.

Do be careful about the footwear you choose - it's an important factor in avoiding injury. Make sure you buy tennis shoes that are appropriate for the surface you are playing on. There's a big difference between playing on grass or on a hard court. It's also important that the shoe fits well around your heel. Ask for advice at a specialist sports shop if you are unsure.

Check your racquet. Make sure the grip size is appropriate for you. Also ensure the string tension is correct. Ask advice in a specialist sports shop or ask your coach if you take tennis lessons. Incorrect string tension could lead to a shoulder injury.
Poor technique can increase your chance of getting injured so even if you've played before, it's a good idea to invest in some lessons with a qualified coach

Don't do too much too quickly if you haven't played for a while. Don't try and compete with others around you who may be fitter.
Don't ignore injuries and continue exercising, it will make things worse.

For minor sprains and strains follow the PRICE principle recommended by chartered physiotherapists immediately.

PROTECT from further damage by supporting your injury with tape or a bandage.

REST the injured part and avoid any activity that causes pain.

Apply an ICE pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a damp kitchen towel to the affected area immediately and then for 10-20 minutes, three times a day.

COMPRESS by bandaging the injured part - this will reduce swelling.

ELEVATE injured limbs above the level of the heart to prevent/reduce swelling.

Do consult a chartered physiotherapist if your injury doesn't improve within 72 hours.

Advice and information on preventing and treating sports injuries is available in the health centre section of this site.

Ends

For further information, please contact the press office on 020 7306 6616/28

Note to Editors: The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK's 38,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants. Ninety eight per cent of all registered physiotherapists are members of the CSP. 

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