“Tennis is a unilateral sport..” thoughts from Graham Anderson at the Australian Open 2017

Some thoughts from Graham on Day 6 of the Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne. Graham is there providing Sports Physiotherapy for the men in this Championships – as he does for several months every of the ATP World Tour.

Day 6

“Tennis is a unilateral sport. If you are a right hander it’s inevitable that you will develop the muscles of your right side more than the left. But the body works using what are often termed diagonal slings. The right upper quadrant moves in a coordinated way with the lower left quadrant for example, so often it’s the contralateral (opposite) side that may be affected through your repeated play.

For a right hander its generally the left abdominal muscle that may get strained with repeat serving. Its generally the left hip that is stiffest from pushing the hip forwards repetitively. Its generally the left knee that shows signs of patella tendon or patellofemoral signs due to single leg squatting/dipping on this leg from repeated serves.

That said it’s usually the dominant shoulder and elbow and wrist that get injured with impingements etc due to the repeated impact of the ball magnified via the racket. Obviously those right-handers with a double handed back hand risk occasional impingement in the left wrist too. If you’ve played tennis or golf all your teen years often a scoliosis – a sideways twist in the spine – can develop throughout your growth years. Although this itself is not a diagnosis it is certainly something to look out for, become aware of, and explore the implications.

Often stiffness at the thoraco lumbar junction – the meeting point if the lower and upper back – causes the individual to hinge onto the lower aspect of the back where things may jam and cause pain. Release of the original stiffness will help share the movement throughout the spine. Often this requires some physical training to regain this movement skill. This too usually occurs on the dominant side.