What to consider before heading to the tennis courts
Be prepared – talk to your doctor first!
Just to make sure you are not going to do any damage! Chances are, they will be all for it, as long as you are careful, but it depends on how advanced your arthritis is, and your current levels of physical activity. They may suggest anti-inflammatory medication or possibly alternative therapies to help with exacerbation of any symptoms.
Get the correct kit
When deciding on the right kit to wear, it is worth asking your doctor or physiotherapist for advice, or better yet, talk to your local sports shop.
- Try and get a lightweight racket, to avoid strain on your wrists, elbows and shoulders.
- Wear cushioned trainers, as light as you can find. An additional arch support insole may help to keep your ankle, knee and hip joints in the correct alignment, if required.
- You can try any combination of padded armbands, knee sleeves and elbow sleeves, to reduce the strain on your joints.
Get the basics right first
Mastering the basic skills first will go a long way to protecting your shoulders, elbows and wrists, and reduce unnecessary movement. The same goes for your hips, knees and ankles, and your back. Getting some good quality coaching and practise what you learn, so these skills become second nature on the court.
On the court
Play on a soft surface
Try to play on a cushioned surface, such as clay, rubber or grass. This will protect your joints and minimise the stress of impact, particularly on your knees.2
Support your joints
You may have seen the brightly coloured tape on knees and shoulders, used by professional athletes. This is kinesiology tape, and it is used to support and stabilise muscles and joints without impacting the range of motion. There is no scientific evidence that it helps with the symptoms of arthritis, athletes believe it helps them, so it may help you too. You can also try wearing high top trainers to support your ankles.
If you can find a partner, try playing doubles as it will reduce the amount of court you need to cover, so you should find it less tiring, and better for your joints.