What better place to start for my first blog post than Wimbledon? As a tennis player myself, tennis injuries have always been an interest to me and possibly also sparked my interest in physiotherapy to start with.
This year’s Wimbledon has been dogged by injury from the first round right through to the final. Notable casualties saw Queens champ Feliciano Lopez crash out in the first round as did entertainer/madman Nic Kyrigos, Nishikori and Djokovic followed with GB favourite Andy Murray concluding his 5 setter but visibly struggling with his recent hip problem. Cilic failed to beat the great Roger Federer in the final and despite an injury timeout for treatment on his foot could not overhaul the Swiss.
Sadly the most horrific injury of the tournament goes to Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The American was two sets down when she slipped and fell. Screaming in pain we later found out she had suffered a dislocated patella and ruptured patella tendon. She will require an operation to repair the tendon with an immediate period of rest and immobilisation and after weeks of a cast / brace she will slowly be allowed to increase the movement in her knee. In the early stages swelling management and range of movement is key. Progressive strengthening, proprioception and balance exercises will continue until she can move into dynamic training, It is unlikely she will be able to pick up a racket and get back to the court for the best part of a year. Although when initially looking at tennis you may assume wrist and shoulder injuries would be the most prevalent, the huge amount of fast intense footwork, cutting and change of direction will mean Mattek-Sands will have to endure a range of intense single leg loading and change of direction activity until she could consider going back to the competitive environment. It is not all doom and gloom though. Previously cited as the injury to end a sports star’s career – others have returned but it will certainly be a hard slog.
Interestingly two articles have reviewed the injuries over a 16 and 9 year period at both the US Open (Sell et al., 2014) and Wimbledon (McCurdie et al., 2014) respectively. Although now a few years old these articles show how:
- The majority of injuries presenting at this tennis Grand Slam competition were pre-existing or recurrent, that is, occurred prior to arrival at Wimbledon.
- Muscle and ligament injuries are the predominant type of acute injury in professional grass court tennis and, despite annual variability, appear to have increased in female players during the study period
- Ligament and articular surface injuries are less common and vary little from year to year.
(McCurdie et al., 2017)
The image below taken from the study shows the common distribution of injuries throughout the body during the period of study.
We also know that the grass is far firmer than it has been in years gone by, and with a particularly dry tournament this year we may find Wimbledon’s injuries are far more similar to those of the other slams. Previously with more slipping on damp grass or moving from an area of wear to the fresh grass outside the court has created a problem that the other slams don’t have to contend with. Although this will remain, the roof now on Centre and soon to be Court 1 will definitely change the dynamics of injuries moving forward.
McCurdie, I., Smith, S., Bell, P.H. and Batt, M.E., 2017. Tennis injury data from The Championships, Wimbledon, from 2003 to 2012. Br J Sports Med, 51(7), pp.607-611.
Sell, K., Hainline, B., Yorio, M. and Kovacs, M., 2014. Injury trend analysis from the US Open Tennis Championships between 1994 and 2009. Br J Sports Med, 48(7), pp.546-551.