Low Back Pain From Playing Tennis

Low back pain is common in the tennis population, depending on your level of competition and the volume of hours playing tennis. Tennis requires frequent twisting, extending, and bending of the trunk, placing increased strain on the spine, potentially contributing to pain.

The higher volume of hours that you dedicate to tennis competition, the more likely you are to sustain a low back injury or deal with low back pain. Low back pain can be challenging to deal with, mainly if you are playing a high level of tennis. This article will review low back pain with tennis and a few exercises that will help to manage your low back pain from playing tennis. 


Evolve Physical Therapy Exercises for Tennis sports injuries


How A Low Back Injury Occurs

As previously mentioned, lower back pain can result from increased tennis volume. Still, it may be caused by various other factors as well. Tennis involves a lot of repetitive trunk twisting and extension of the spine while hitting a serve and overhead shots, which can place excessive stress on the discs, ligaments and facet joints of the spine. With much of this stress occurring, it’s crucial to have a sufficient level of core strength to meet the demands of the stress that tennis can place on the spine. Strong core muscles may reduce the load and strain that other soft tissue structures, such as ligaments, may be taking, which may lead to injury if not adequately supported. 


Evolve Physical Therapy Exercises for Tennis sports injuries - low back pain from playing tennis


Strengthening Core Muscles

anatomy of the core muscles
Click to Enlarge. The core consists of 29 muscle groups around the waist, hips, and back that help stabilize the spine.

Many people assume that the core revolves just around the abdominal muscles below the rib cage. The core consists of 29 muscle groups around the waist, hips, and back that help stabilize the spine. 

One of your significant breathing muscles, the diaphragm, is also included in the core muscle group and is essential to control certain exercises or activities adequately.

Strengthening these muscles that help stabilize the spine and performing a high activity level requires good muscle control and coordination of some of these muscle groups. More importantly, performing different motions in different planes of movement requires adequate strength and control of these muscles to help stabilize the spine when playing tennis. Without proper motor control, strength, and stability of these muscles, an athlete may leave themselves more prone to a low back injury while playing at a recreational or competitive level.







Low back pain from playing tennis

Evolve Physical Therapy Exercises for Tennis sports injuries - low back pain from playing tennis

Several types of injuries may present themselves in the low back while playing tennis. 

Here are a few examples of low back injuries that may contribute to pain or be caused by playing tennis with excessive volume:


Lets review a few exercises to help reduce the likelihood of an injury while playing tennis.


3 Exercises To Improve Low Back Pain From Tennis


Cable Woodchop

    1. Begin in a staggered stance with the left leg forward and the right leg back. 
    2. Grab a dumbbell or a resisted cable by the handle with both hands starting with your trunk twisted to your right with both arms and elbows extended over your right shoulder.
    3. Keeping your core tight and elbows extended, rotate your trunk and move your arms in a diagonal direction from above the right shoulder finishing at the level of your left hip.
    4. Return to your starting position and repeat the exercise. 
    5. Perform 2 sets of 15 repetitions on each side.




Kettlebell Deadlift

    1. Begin by standing over a kettlebell with feet shoulder width or slightly wider apart with feet on either side of the weight.
    2. Bend over and grab the weight with both hands. While keeping the spine in a neutral position, hinge from your hips to return to an upright position. 
    3. Continue to keep the spine in a neutral position and hinge from your hips again to lower the weight straight down towards the floor, stopping at about a foot from the floor. 
    4. Return to an upright position maintaining a neutral spine and repeat the exercise.
    5. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.




Pallof Press

    1. Begin by starting in a partially squatted position with the hand closest to the resistance (band or weight) grasping the handle. The opposite hand wraps over the grasping hand.  The torso will rotate with the hands in front of the chest.
    2. Maintain a neutral spine and tighten the core muscles as the resistance band out away from the chest with them elbows fully extended. 
    3. Bring the resistance band close to the chest again and repeat the exercise. Avoid rotation of the torso when performing this exercise by keeping the shoulders square.
    4. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each side. 







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Thank you for reading 3 Exercises To Combat Low Back Pain From Playing Tennis. We hope it has helped you understand more about low back pain from playing tennis and how you may potentially prevent injury by performing the appropriate cross-training exercises.

To learn more about other conditions and how we treat different types of common sports injuries, please visit our Sports Injuries page.  

For a thorough evaluation and individualized treatment, contact our Sherwood clinic or our Bethany clinic today, and be seen in less than 48 hours.

Check out what injuries we commonly treat and what to expect during an appointment.