Spondylolysis

Young tennis players have an increased risk of Low Back Pain (LBP) or even structural injury when compared to many other sports. In a study of junior tennis players, it was LBP that was reported as the most common complaint and the most recurrent injury. Before the age of 15, more than 50% of children will experience back pain.

Low Back Pain

Movements of the modern tennis player require frequent, repetitive and rapid trunk rotation of the lumbar spine during groundstrokes and significant lumbar hyperextension during serving, all of which that can lead to acute or chronic LBP.

A very common low back injury in young tennis players is Spondylolysis. It accounts for approximately 47% of LBP in adolescent athletes.

Spondylolysis is defined as a defect of the vertebra where the vertebral body merges with the spinal facet joint, known as the Pars Interarticularis. The Pars Interarticularis is the weakest structure in any type of lumbar movement and the L5 is exposed to the greatest amount of stress.

Low Back Pain

The incidence and prevalence of LBP has continued to increase, with the rate of injury for adolescents almost identical to adults. Here is a list of some risk factors that LBP are often present in young tennis players:

  • Previous back injury…
  • Limited range of motion…
  • Poor technique…
  • Increased training…
  • Poor conditioning…

Lets look at the biomechanics of the serve so we can understand the full amount of stress that it places on the low back. It is the serve that is considered the tennis stroke that places the greatest amount of stress on the lumbar spine by a combination of rotation, hyperextension and lateral bending forces.

Please call your Chiropractor at AHS on 9948 2826 or visit our clinic at 9/470 Sydney Rd in Balgowlah servicing the surrounding suburbs of Allambie, Balgowlah Heights, Seaforth, Fairlight and Manly on the Northern Beaches.

References:

1. Turner PG, Green JH, Galasko CS. Back pain in childhood. Spine 1989; 14:812-814.

2. Hjelm N, Werner S, Renstöm P. Injury profile in junior tennis players: a prospective two year study. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2010; 18:845-850.

3. Ellenbecker T. Kovacs M, Ramos D. A descriptive survey of initiation age of the kick serve in elite tennis players. J Med Sci Tennis 2011; 16:27-33.

Photo Credit: Fort George G. Meade Pu  https://flic.kr/p/aiEcUE