Expert: Kevin James, Last Updated: 16/04/2019
Many thoughts come to mind when you think of Table Tennis. For some, it may be the glory of beating your opponent. For others, it may be the cherished memories created over a summer break. And almost everyone thinks of the sheer fun and energy that comes with the sport. But there is one thing that people almost never associate with Table Tennis, and that is INJURY.
While Table Tennis is a relatively risk-free sport in comparison to football or even baseball, but you can still injure yourself. And guess what? That’s incredibly common.
This sport demands pure agility and quick reflexes. It is one of the unique sports that combines strength and strategy. So, a loose grip or a stretch too far is all it would take to injure yourself.
Still, don’t believe us? Just take a look at this list of common injuries that we’ve compiled for you and we’re sure you’ll agree by the end of it.
1. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a common injury not just among Table Tennis players, but also among other racquet sports players such as Tennis, Badminton, and Squash. In medical jargon, it is usually referred to as lateral epicondylitis. It is an injury that is often revealed by an inflammation of the elbow and the forearm muscles attached to it.
Primarily caused by an overworking of muscles and tendons in your forearm, using a heavy paddle and poor backhand shots can also lead to Tennis Elbow. An injured elbow can be severe and might take a while to get back in the game.
How to avoid: While a warm-up and stretch is always a good idea, using a lighter paddle can also go a long way in prevention of Tennis Elbow.
2. Shoulder Injury
The shoulders of a Table Tennis player is most likely to experience pain and sustain an injury. This is mainly because the shoulders are also the part of the body that are exposed to varied motions over the course of a match. Shoulder injuries are even more common in players who do not have a good center of mass.
The injury leads to inflammation of the rotator cuff and the attached tendons. A great deal of pain typically accompanies shoulder injuries felt when you raise your arms.
Sometimes, players are too keen to win the point and end up overextending themselves in the process. This can also lead to a numbing pain in the shoulders and lower back.
How to avoid: It’s simple. Your shoulders need to undergo vigorous forms of training exercises to condition themselves against such injuries. Carrying out power shots using only energy from your core also helps.
3. Ankle and Wrist Sprain
Sprains of the ankle and wrist is an injury that is familiar to many TT players. However, unlike other injuries, ankle and wrist sprains are more serious and spontaneous. They can instantly cause you to drop out of tournaments since it takes a long time to heal. Erratic and uncoordinated movements usually cause a twisted ankle. These sudden, sideway motions harm the ligament and soft tissues around the ankle.
On the other hand, a sprained wrist is most likely to be sustained by rookies. It is typically due to movements of the wrists that are sharp and rigid. The impact of these motions then snaps the wrist.
How to avoid: Snapping your wrist can be prevented by striking the ball in a fluid and continuous motion. The remedy for a twisted ankle is an ankle brace or investing in good Table Tennis shoes that help you keep your grip.
4. Muscle Strain
Players reeling from a pulled muscle is a common sight in Table Tennis. Strained muscles are injuries caused by rapid and unpredictable movements. They usually occur over the course of a long match when the tired muscles start to contract. Strained muscles are tough to recover from and almost always make the player forfeit the match or even drop out of the tournament. Since these injuries make it extremely painful to move, they should be attended to by a qualified doctor or physiotherapist.
How to avoid: A sure-shot way of preventing muscle strains is a good and frequent warm-up. This should ideally last 30 minutes and can include a slow jog or jumping jacks.
5. Racquet Injuries
Racquet injuries are more common than you may think. They mostly occur in Table Tennis matches played in doubles. The injuries are due to one player hitting the other with his racquet. In the shared frenzy of the game, you or your teammate could accidentally hurt each other with the racquet. These injuries can range from light pats on the hand to severe blows to the face if you’re not careful. Moreover, Table Tennis paddles are made of solid wood and can deliver pretty painful blows.
How to avoid: The best way to avoid getting struck with the racquet is to communicate with your partner clearly. That and tons of practice will result in the gradual understanding of each other’s strokes.
With that, we reach the end of the list. You’re now familiar with the most common injuries in Table Tennis as well as the best ways to avoid them. The important thing to remember is that even if you do end up hurting your shoulders or twisting your ankle, you have to give your body time and space to recover. This way, you can always get back to executing those killer strokes.