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I love tennis – but does it love me back?

I love tennis – but does it love me back?

I love playing tennis- from hitting the ball as a stress reliever, to the competitiveness, to the calories that I burn and mostly-being able to play the sport with my husband and fabulous friends. 

However, recently I’m wondering if I should continue. Three years ago, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while going for a cross-court forehand. The ACL is one of the four major ligaments in the knee. So began a long nine months of rehab, surgery, pain killers, more rehab and finally back on the court.

I’ve discovered that my injury is one of the most common sports-related injuries, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The main reason athletes, or weekend warriors like me, experience an ACL tear is because they change direction suddenly causing the knee to give out.

I have to admit, after my recovery period, I was not going after some shots that would cause me to overly exert myself. At this point, I was happy to just be on the court again, and say “nice shot” and give up the point. After all, it is not my day job and I did not want to endure another surgery and painful rehabilitation.

Fast forward a few years later to the fall of 2013. I was practicing my serve with a friend for a long period of time and believed that this overuse  may have caused my shoulder pain. I was in denial for some time. I even continued playing, but soon realized when I served or performed an overhead shot, it caused a great deal of pain and I did not have any power. 

So, off I went to see Dr. Craig Cummins, my orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. After an evaluation, ultrasound, cortisone shot and physical therapy referral, I was good to go for a month. I am hoping over time, this too shall pass and I can avoid surgery.  

I am giving my injury time to heal and religiously doing my physical therapy exercises. Only thing I know for sure is that I will not play (even though it is so tempting) until I get the approval from my doctor to get back on the court

I also am questioning the future. I love tennis, but I am not sure it loves me back. I am determined not to be sedentary, so I am debating maybe taking up a new sport or fitness routine.

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  1. You will be unable to walk away from the sport. For those of us who have played it for years, it becomes part of the DNA. I was back on the court 5 weeks after major cancer surgery — much to the chagrin of my physician.

  2. Don’t give it up because tennis is a wonderful sport for cardio health and mental health. But don’t overdo. Do not play more than three times a week and take it easy. Develop a craftier game rather than always going for power. Get softer strings. I use Wilson Sensation 17 and always wear newer tennis shoes. Tennis has helped me lose weight and keep weight off. Plus its a sport of strategy which helps me grow mentally. Nothing else is like it. But use common sense. As we age we have to accommodate what our bodies can do.

  3. As a lifelong avid tennis player, I have found I have had to make adjustments to be able to continue tennis at a competitive level. I have had to cut back on the frequency I play, incorporate regular strength training and stretching, limit my playing on outside hard cement courts and keep my weight under control. Tennis is supposed to be a sport for a lifetime and by making these adjustments I am hoping it will be the case for me.

  4. You are so right Mike. It is addicting. Good for you to get back on the court so fast after surgery. I am determined to get back into the game asap.

  5. Thanks Carol and Giselle for your words of wisdom and long-term perspective. I am going to work on my finesse game. Hope you both enjoy the game for many years!

  6. I’m not a tennis player (but would defer to whatever Giselle says!). But in other physical activities, I’ve learned that if I give injuries time to heal and adapt my routine, I can stay active. I’ve also found that stretching before and after any physical activity – even shoveling snow – helps prevent injuries and maintain performance levels. Good luck with your tennis, Lisa!

  7. Thanks Mark for your insight. You are right-stretching can really help. Hope you can continue to stay active as well..

  8. As a lifelong competitive tennis player, I’m going through tbe mourning phase of not returning to the game. I played competively after surgeries of ACL reconstruction, repair of 3 complete rotator cuff tears and carpel tunnel release. Now sidelined with progressive myopathy. Won’t be playing anytime soon. If you love the sport, return to it and modify your game.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.