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How to protect your spine from your tennis serve .pdf



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Title: How to protect your spine from your tennis serve http://www.tennisidentity.com/2017/02/how-to-protect-your-spine-from-your-tennis-serve.html
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How to protect your spine from your
tennis serve

http://www.tennisidentity.com/2017/
02/how-to-protect-your-spine-fromyour-tennis-serve.html

When most people think about chronic injuries that occur from tennis,
they usually think of “tennis elbow.” But if you ask a serious tennis player about
the most common tennis-related injuries, low back pain will almost always make
that list. There’s good reason for that. We spoke with Dr. Todd Lanman, a spine
surgeon in Beverly Hills, California.
He says that:
“imaging studies such as MRI show that 62% of serious amateur, elite, and
professional tennis players have injuries in the spine in their lower backs. In fact,
four out of ten professional tennis players admit to missing at least one tennis
tournament because of low back pain.”
So while low back pain and spine injury may not be as famous as an injury in that
other joint, it is clearly a big problem for tennis players.

When most people think about chronic injuries that occur from tennis, they usually
think of “tennis elbow.” But if you ask a serious tennis player about the most
common tennis-related injuries, low back pain will almost always make that list.
There’s good reason for that. We spoke with Dr. Todd Lanman, a spine surgeon in
Beverly Hills, California. He says that:
“imaging studies such as MRI show that 62% of serious amateur, elite, and
professional tennis players have injuries in the spine in their lower backs. In fact, four
out of ten professional tennis players admit to missing at least one tennis
tournament because of low back pain.”
So while low back pain and spine injury may not be as famous as an injury in that
other joint, it is clearly a big problem for tennis players.

If you’re an avid player, you’ve probably thought a lot about your serve. But you may
not have thought a lot about how your body is affected by your serve. Dr. Lanman
states,
“One of the most common causes of back pain and injury to tennis players is the
serve. You place extreme forces on your spine during a tennis serve.”
Dr. Lanman is a world-renowned spine surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los
Angeles. As a top back and neck surgery specialist practicing in Beverly Hills, he
counts many professional athletes, business leaders, and entertainment luminaries
among his clients.
Consider what a serve does to your body. You start out by hyperextending your back,
stretching out the muscles and elongating the spine. The spinal column is not
vertically straight during the serve, either, as it would like to be. The serve itself is a
violently rapid contraction of these same muscles coupled with a forcible rotation of
almost the entire body.
Imagine how these forces are transmitted along the length of your spine. The
vertebrae in your lower back (lumbar vertebral) really don’t handle rotation very
well, especially forceful rotation. The vertebral discs between the bones don’t
handle it well either. This is largely why 30% of tennis players have disc herniation
(i.e. bulging disc) in their lumbar spines (i.e. lower back).

The backswing and contact aren’t even the most spine-damaging parts of the serve.
Dr. Lanman adds,
“It really is the deceleration after the ball has been hit that causes the extreme forces
that damage the discs and joints throughout the spine.”
The strongest abnormal forces occur toward the end of your follow-through, when the
body slows itself down. The muscles in the back and abdomen have to stabilize the
body after this explosion of energy. These core muscles are also the way that tennis
players can protect the health of their spines.
“Tennis players with weaker core muscles are more likely to experience injuries,” says
Dr. Lanman, “So strengthening these core muscles is an important way to protect
against injury.”
Treatment and conditioning programs for tennis players desiring to strengthen their
core muscles often focus of eccentric and plyometric exercises. During eccentric
exercises, the muscles contract as they lengthen. One example of an eccentric exercise
is to keep tension on the biceps while straightening the arms after a curl. Plyometric
exercises involve stretching the muscle before contracting, and applying high force
over short periods. Plyometric exercises are sometimes called “jump training” because
plyometric exercises in the legs include explosive jumps. The exercises help build up a
reserve that can protect bones and joints for the stresses of repeated tennis serves.

It is also important to remember that the muscles of the back are just as important
to core strengthening as abdominal muscles are.

“I tell my patients to work the muscles that extend the back twice as hard as they
work the abdominal and oblique muscles in the front. The extensor muscles are
often overlooked, but they are the ones that decelerate the motion at the end of
the tennis serve,”
states Dr. Lanman. It is more difficult to target the back muscles, but back curls
against light resistance are a good start.
Exercises aren’t always enough to prevent or treat spine injuries caused by playing
tennis, however. Many tennis players will eventually need spine surgery to relieve
pain or other symptoms. For some, spinal fusion surgery is a reasonable option.
However, if tennis players wish to return to play, Dr. Lanman tells us, artificial disc
replacement is the better option.

“Artificial disc replacement is superior to fusion for maintaining spinal
motion and mobility.”
With fusion, the spinal bones are fused together, but with disk replacement,
the individual vertebral bones keep their ability to move. This is essential for
elite and professional tennis players who want to stay at the top of the
sport.
“Artificial disc replacement surgery can be performed without any damage
to the muscles of the spine, recovery is faster, and players can return to play
more quickly. It really is the better surgical treatment for active, young
adults.”
It seems the key to protecting your spine from your serve is to make sure
core strengthening is part of your overall workout routine. Dr. Lanman
reminds, your back muscles are part of your core, so work them twice as
hard as your work your abs. And if you do end up needing spine surgery
(Heaven forbid) and want to get back out on the court, artificial disc
replacement is a good option.

Sources:
Alyas F, Turner M, Connell D. MRI findings in the lumbar spines of asymptomatic,
adolescent, elite tennis players. Br J Sports Med. Nov 2007;41(11):836-841;
discussion 841. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2007.037747
Maquirriain J, Ghisi JP, Kokalj AM. Rectus abdominis muscle strains in tennis players.
Br J Sports Med. Nov 2007;41(11):842-848. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2007.036129

Marks MR, Haas SS, Wiesel SW. Low back pain in the competitive tennis player. Clin
Sports Med. Apr 1988;7(2):277-287.
TAGS:

Spine surgeon Dr. Todd Lanman
Dr. Todd Lanman Spine surgeon
Neurosurgery Specialists in Beverly Hills
Spine surgeon Beverly Hills


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