Tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis and rotator cuff tendinopathy are common injuries that can plague a tennis player. The last thing an athlete wants to hear is, “You must rest and stop playing tennis.” Soft tissue injuries, especially tendinopathies are painful, limiting conditions that can be particularly challenging to a tennis player as it is slow to heal.
Many athletes seek advice from primary care and sports medicine physicians when they have tendon pain and then are often offered anti-inflammatories, injections, and told to rest. Typically, this regimen only offers temporary relief and may not be the best method to heal a tendinopathy. There are much more holistic, medication-free methods to treating this condition, methods that are often found with a physical therapist.
DID YOU KNOW
In the state of Florida, patients can see a physical therapist directly without a referral? In today’s health care system, physical therapists are often the first-step healthcare practitioner and the perfect choice for helping tennis players understand soft tissue injuries, such as tendinopathy, so athletes can heal and prevent future injuries.
WHAT IS TENDINOPATHY?
The word “tendinopathy” actually means “disease of a tendon,” and is a broader term for two conditions known as “tendinosis,” or degenerative tendinopathy, and “tendinitis,” or acute, inflammatory tendinopathy. Although “tendonitis” is used often, most cases of tendinopathy are not associated with significant inflammation and thus don’t respond well to anti-inflammatory medications.
WHAT CAUSES TENDINOPATHY?
Tendinopathy is caused by overuse or improper loading of the muscle-tendon unit. Repetitive strain on a tendon causes tiny tears that accumulate over time. These tears cause pain and can eventually change the structure of the tendon resulting in acute inflammation and/or degeneration that can lead to pain, tissue adhesions, movement impairment and eventually loss of function.
HOW PHYSICAL THERAPISTS HELP HEAL TENDINOPATHY
ADDRESS THE CAUSE
Correct poor footwear
Assess or change equipment, for example choosing a racquet with a larger sweet spot will help reduce load on the arm.
Correct stroke mechanics, for example bending knees at least 10 degrees during the service motion will lessen the load on the shoulders and elbows.
Identify proper training loads and recovery to avoid overuse injuries.
Incorporate proper warm-up or cool-down for tennis.
Develop a balanced training program for tennis to include stretching, strengthening, speed, core stability, agility, balance and coordination.
TREAT THE ENTIRE KINETIC CHAIN - NOT JUST THE PAIN - USING THE ASTYM APPROACH
Astym treatment is the regenerative medicine of therapy and is designed to restore soft tissues at a cellular level. Once a thorough evaluation of the entire kinetic chain is completed, specialized instruments are used along muscles, tendons or ligaments to stimulate the regenerative process encouraging the resorption of scar tissue and the regeneration of damaged soft tissues. Combined with proper loading and therapeutic exercise, this creates the perfect system for the treatment of tendinopathies.
Astym is unlike any other therapy or method because it fixes the problem by promoting regeneration of damaged soft tissues and resorption of scar tissue. It also encourages activity and early return to sport where more traditional approaches emphasize rest and medications. Research shows that Astym dramatically improves outcomes when compared to the patients who only performed loading exercises.
Astym is a specialized training not offered by all physical therapist. Only certified Astym clinicians can offer this therapy and must undergo intensive training and testing to obtain certification.
Don’t let tendon injuries keep you off the tennis court, seek advice from a qualified sports physical therapist who is Astym certified
LISA CHASE, PT, OMPT
BACK 2 NORMAL PHYSICAL THERAPY, INC
465 2nd Avenue North, Suite A
St Petersburg, FL 33701