SPORTS CLINIC WITH DR WILLIAM CHAN
FORMER tennis world number one Kim Clijsters, who suffered a wrist injury recently, is another example of an athlete who was too eager to come back from injury.
As a result, the Belgian has only played in one tournament since May and is expected to be out for the rest of the year.
Clijsters should have taken a good rest and undergone rehabilitation thoroughly after she tore tendons in her left wrist at the Belgian Open in May and subsequently underwent surgery.
However, she came back and played in a WTA Tour tournament in Hasselt, Belgium, in early October.
In tennis, the tendons are subjected to enormous stress especially when you have a powerful serve like Clijsters. Subjected to heavy stress, the tendons can swell up and get inflamed.
Racket sports like tennis, squash and badminton, that require forceful and repetitive use of the wrist, often lead to a high incidence of wrist tendonitis.
Rowing, weightlifting, gymnastics, wheelchair sports and climbing are the other sports that can cause this condition. More than 50% of recreational rock climbers suffer some form of wrist tendonitis.
In certain sports, wrist tendonitis is common and treatment is based on minimising the effect of this condition on the athlete. Many top athletes still work out and compete despite carrying wrist injuries.
They only consider tendonitis a serious injury when they can no longer compete in tournament.
MEASURES TO PREVENT WRIST INJURIES
1. Improve your technique with the help of a qualified coach.
2. Make sure you get the correct grip size for your racket or club. Grips that are too large or too small may cause wrist fatigue, causing it to lose stability and players to over rely on their forearm muscles.
3. Play on clay or grass courts where the ball velocity is lower and there is less impact on wrist and elbow.
4. Use rackets that have more flexibility. The stiffer the racket, the larger the force transmitted to the wrist and elbow.
5. Reduce the racket string tension. The tighter the strings, the higher the force transferred to the wrist and elbow and the greater the risk of injury.
6. Strengthen the wrist, forearm and elbow muscles. You can squeeze a tennis ball, do wrist curls and extensions with a dumbbell.
7. Stretch your wrists and elbows before and after play. Do the usual warm up and cool down.
8. Avoid playing more than three times a week. Don't play when you feel pain or when you feel sore. If the pain persists for more than five days, or keep recurring, see a doctor.
Recreational players should be able to play tennis two to three times a week without sustaining any wrist, shoulder or elbow injury. The risk of injury increases due to poor technique and lack of conditioning. For aspiring junior players and those who play the game practically full-time, conditioning and the guidance of a good coach is vital.
TREATMENT FOR WRIST INJURIES
1. Ice the injured wrist for 15 minutes every two to three hours during the first 48 hours.
2. See a doctor for oral anti-inflammatory medication.
3. Apply anti-inflammatory creams to the wrist joint.
4. Go for physiotherapy. This can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
5. Give your wrist a rest.
Strengthening the elbow and wrist should help to eliminate wrist tendonitis. The most basic strategy for injury prevention is to avoid overuse.
The successful treatment and rehabilitation of wrist tendonitis requires prompt and appropriate medical treatment. After that, a progressive training programme is needed and poor techniques have to be corrected.
The injured athlete may require a pool of qualified people including sports therapist, sports medicine doctor, orthopaedic surgeons, trainers and coaches to help him/her to get well and return to the game.
n Questions to Dr William Chan can be directed to him at his e-mail spinesportmed@Yahoo.com. His contact number is 012-2521 898 or 03-5635 5113.