Tennis and Low Back Pain

Tennis is a game that requires frequent, repetitive and rapid rotation of the lower spine which predisposes players to acute and chronic injuries including low back pain. Low back pain is a common injury among tennis players. To them, it is one of the most common complaints and the most recurrent injury.


Tennis is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. You need to stay quick and alert because most of the time, your opponent will keep you guessing where the ball will be heading next. Your hips receive most of the force when you need to quickly stop and change direction laterally, while your lower back is susceptible to strain when you quickly charge toward the net to reach a short ball.

How Tennis Causes Low Back Pain

Tennis played intensively is generally held to be a risk factor for low back pain. Players, especially those who lack in mobility and flexibility in the lumbar spine are at high risk for abnormalities in their lower back.
Other factors that cause low back pain among tennis players include postural abnormalities, muscle dysfunction, overuse, and articular dysfunction in the lower back.

During serve, the combined rotation, flexion, and extension of the back may cause problems. Players with low back pain had higher lateral flexion forces on the non-dominant side during driving phase of the serve.

Repetitive, powerful serving places high stress on the back and may result in injury. The serve hyper-extends the lower back and can compress lumbar discs. This can stress the small joints in the spinal structures as well as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons around the spine.

Faulty stroke mechanics are often involved in the development of injuries in tennis players. Front-and back-hand shots need a large amount of trunk rotation and twisting in the spine.

Symptoms of back pain experienced by tennis players include sudden and sharp, or a constant, dull pain in the lower back. The pain is usually worse on one side of the back and tends to worsen with activity but eases during rest. Symptoms may radiate over the buttocks, hips, and the back of the thigh.

Physiotherapy for Low Back Pain

Preparing your core and other muscles with stretching exercises will help prevent injury from sudden changes of direction.

Full rehabilitation is important to prevent re-injury that often results in a longer period off play. A physiotherapist will evaluate your joints and muscles to see how well they are functioning. In addition, he will assess muscle power, strength, endurance, balance, coordination, and joint position awareness.

A physiotherapist will provide a programme to return you to full fitness and reduce the chance of recurrence. Physiotherapy for low back pain often involves a wide range of techniques such as heat therapy, ultrasound, massage, mobilisation, exercise, and education about posture and body mechanics.

A lumbar stabilisation program plays an important role in a rehabilitation program for people with low back pain. This is done by stabilising and strengthening the lumbar spine.

Many low back pain sufferers respond quickly to a combination of manual therapy and tailored rehabilitation exercise programme. Physiotherapy treatment brings long-term positive results for those with low back pain.

It is important to remain active while you have low back pain, therefore seeing a Perth physiotherapist is a good choice so you can get better while doing recommended exercises. Lying on your back for too long when you have back pain can worsen stiffness and cause more pain during activity.

Don’t let low back pain spoil your tennis game. If you are in need of treatment, we will be glad to be of help. Call us at 9272 7359!