Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 6, 2018
It’s no secret that parents these days are more concerned about signing their kids up for certain contact sports in light of new findings surrounding head injuries and concussions. Coincidentally, other low or no contact sports are becoming more popular. One such sport is tennis. However, just because you’re not coming in contact with another person, doesn’t mean the sport is easy on your body.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two of the greatest to ever play tennis, have both dealt with spine injuries during their career. Considering the amount of torque that is put on the back with each shot, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. And while children and teens certainly aren’t swinging as hard as professionals, their spines are still growing, so it begs the question, is tennis safe for developing spines?
Tennis and Your Back
Before we answer the question, we want to cover some things you can do to help protect your spine from injury during tennis or other athletic activities. For starters, always take time to warm up and stretch prior to practice or competition, as this allows your muscles to ease into activity. During competition, stay hydrated so spinal soft tissues can move as necessary and avoid strains and sprains.
Protecting your spine during tennis also takes some work off the court. Find a good strength training program that not only works your core, but challenges other muscles groups as well. Cross training is a great way to ensure all muscle groups are growing and you’re not overworking certain areas while underworking other groups. Finally, be sure to follow a healthy diet so that your spine can get the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay strong.
Now, onto the question at the beginning of the blog, is tennis safe for teens and kids whose spines are still growing? According to a study published in the European Spine Journal, tennis is not dangerous for the spine during development.
The premise of their study was to determine if so-called “asymmetrical sports,” or sports that put abnormal twisting pressure on the spine, put children and teens at risk of an spinal deformities. Researchers analyzed the spinal health of a group of competitive adolescent tennis players and a healthy control group. What they found is that there was no difference in the rate of kyphosis or lordosis, or any other spinal deformities. They also noted that there was no correlation between playing tennis and low back pain, although they did note that tennis players were more likely to have sporadic activity limitations due to back soreness, which makes sense because tennis is an active sport that will challenge your body.
At the end of the day, researchers concluded that “adolescent competitive tennis showed to be a safe sport without increased risk of spinal deformities and low back pain.”
Back Pain Doctor
So while you need to pay a little bit more attention to your spine and how to protect it if you’re going to play tennis, the sport doesn’t increase your risk of conditions like spinal stenosis or lordosis. If you play tennis and have any questions about protecting your spine or treating discomfort, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s clinic today.