Tennis is a sport that has a long history and its popularity has grown substantially in the last few years. It is a great sport that provides longevity allowing one to play for a lifetime. As part of an active lifestyle, tennis provides many benefits including improved strength and flexibility as well as improved cardiovascular endurance.
Since tennis is a sport that offers fitness for people of all ages, it is common to see those who have undergone a total hip or knee replacement continue to participate in the sport afterwards. Many orthopedic surgeons will allow their patients to return to tennis once they’ve recovered but with certain precautions.
These are some common considerations upon your return:
- Always follow your orthopedic surgeon’s recommendations for the approximate time frame as to when you can start playing tennis.
- Talk to your physical therapist about your desire to play tennis, whether you’re returning to the court or planning to take it up for the first time. You’ll need adequate strength, balance, endurance, flexibility and movement awareness to meet the demands of the sport. Your physical therapist can incorporate these strategies into your program. Additionally, your program should include tennis-specific movements which you should be able to perform without apprehension before you return to play.
- A clay court surface is recommended after a total joint replacement since it is softer and slower than hard courts. A softer surface will reduce the load impact on your joints while simultaneously giving you more time to prepare for your strokes.
- If you plan to return to competitive tennis with your new knee or hip it is recommended that you take an official lesson with a teaching professional to regain your timing for shots as well as to fully assess your movement.
- A proper warm-up should always be a part of your routine before starting to hit tennis balls. It is best to implement a dynamic warm-up which can include activities like light jogging/skipping, agility movements such as side-steps or karaoke steps, and dynamic stretching.
- Playing doubles rather than singles is highly recommended as it gives you a smaller area of court to cover. This will be less demanding for you physically as well as less demanding on the replaced joint. It is best to build the stress through the new joint slowly as your tolerance grows.
- Do not forget to stretch after your tennis match. Static stretches can be performed by holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds and performing 2-3 repetitions of each. Stretching is needed for the whole body, NOT just the replaced joint.
- Most importantly, have fun and enjoy this great sport!!
Updated on March 4, 2020
Ioonna Félix is the site manager at the HSS Westside Sports Institute Rehabilitation and Performance Center. A board certified Orthopedic and Sports Specialist and a certified tennis performance specialist, she treats players of all levels and continues to compete in tennis herself.