Tennis star and former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt suffered a hip injury while he was still in his prime. This injury, known as FAI (femoro-acetabular impingement) has the joint ball repetitively knocking against the socket’s wall. The frontal part of the hip bone can develop a small bump that can actually aggravate the impingement, thus the injury as well. Over time, the impingement can become a common affair because of the continuous wear and tear, with the joint having lesser space to move around with. The resulting pain often debilitates the muscles that guard and control the joint’s movement, thereby increasing the severity of the condition even further. Here on, the spiral slide begins downward.
Lleyton Hewitt was asked to consider hanging up his boots because it generally would take a lot of time for a player with that kind of an injury to get back to top shape and fitness again. But then Lleyton played the Wimbledon within the next 6 months, an effort that is Herculean to say the least; considering the fact that it could take 6 months for somebody to just get up on feet and begin to run around.
Tennis and Hip Injuries
Any sport that requires you to push your hip to its widest range in order to move around and play puts you at an increased risks of hip injuries. Tennis is an excellent example of that kind of a sport, though pretty much every sport (be it soccer, martial arts or even dancing for that matter) that warrants physical labor does entail its own share of risks. Modern tennis has become much more competitive than what it was a decade or two ago. Bernard Tomic, the Australian tennis star, sustained an injury to the hip when he was just 21 and raring to go. Intense sessions of training since a young age, when the skeleton is still gradually maturing, might set one up for this type of an injury.
This Wimbledon, Andy Murray, the top ranked tennis player in the world right now, is struggling with a sore hip. However, rigorous sessions of conditioning and cold baths have ensured that Murray doesn’t feel the pain once he’s on court.
What we must understand here is that Murray is a one-off example. Cold baths will certainly not do everybody good. Also, modern tennis sees a large number of slide shots wherein the player has to slide down the court to reach for the ball. What happens here is that players slide, often without judging his/her posture, and in the process, the knee gets bent inward significantly. This is what puts them at very high risk of hip injuries.
The recovery from hip injuries:
The recovery can take long, sometimes up to 5-6 months before the individual can get up and start running around again. Surgery often involves repairing the cartilage and shaving the bone; often not providing sufficient time and space for recovery, and in some cases may further aggravate the joint’s condition, making recovery a tedious and ugly affair. In fact the careers of many players were cut short because of this.
Usually, athletes often put off such kind of pain for the future. And this is what happens in the process- the simple niggle turns to a debilitating pain over a period of time. Also, the player, in order to deal effectively with the pain, generally makes quite a few changes (both consciously and sub-consciously). This often mars muscle coordination and strength which then can take a lot of time to reverse completely.
Spot the symptoms
Groin pain is often a manifestation of hip pain. If the joints become inflamed, the ache can be a dull one at rest while a sharp, stinging pain would be when you try to pull your knee towards your chest or rotate it inwards. This pain can also affect you around the buttocks, slowly radiating down to the knees through the lower back and the thighs. Simple routine activities such as climbing a flight of stairs, wearing a pair of socks or sitting on lowered stools can suddenly become difficult.
How can you prevent it?
- Strengthen the hip muscles: Stick to a consistent exercise program that lays emphasis on strength and power while also challenging your balance, coordination and endurance.
- Mix up the surfaces on which you play: Playing on the same surface creates muscle imbalances because you use the same set of leg and hip muscles every single time. Mixing the tennis surfaces allows for the hip and leg muscles to be utilized in various ways and forms.
- It all starts from the core: Weak core muscles are the perfect recipe for disaster. The chances of sustaining a hip injury increase considerably if you don’t have strong muscles surrounding your core.
- Don’t neglect your body: If the slight niggle in the hip doesn’t resolve itself within a couple of weeks, it is best to consult a doctor. If detected on time, a slightly stretched rest and rehab period is all you’re going to need.