Posts Tagged ‘tennis’

Did Wimbledon’s Courts Wreck Players’ Knees?

The slippery grass courts at Wimbledon led to injuries and the withdrawal of 7 top tennis players on Day 3 from the prestigious tournament last Wednesday.

Four players injured their knees – Victoria Azarenka, John Isner, Marin Cilic, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Prominent players, such as Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki, who both lost their matches, criticized the condition of the courts.

One of Maria Sharapova's spills at Wimbledon.

One of Maria Sharapova’s spills at Wimbledon.

But it’s more likely that the rigors of the game, rather than the courts, were to blame.

No matter what the surface, knee injuries are quite common in tennis players because of the sharp side-to-side movements required.

Azarenka hurt her right knee on Monday when she slipped on Court One.

Tsonga, Isner, and Cilic mostly blamed pre-existing physical problems or one-off injuries that were not caused specifically by slipping on the grass.

Most of us never get a chance to play tennis on grass courts and so will never know how slick the courts can be.

I once played on a grass court on vacation in Hawaii, and didn’t find it particularly slippery, although the skidding ball made me bend me knees more than usual.

Knee Cartilage Tears

One of the most prevalent knee injuries among players in their 40s and 50s is a knee cartilage tear, particularly among those who play intensely.

The basic problem is that the aging knee cartilage loses some of its water content and elasticity and, consequently, some internal strength.

These changes make tears more likely.

Tears occur when you land, anchor your foot, and then attempt an inward or outward pivoting motion.

Most players experience some pain and may feel tearing within the knee, although some feel no tearing and have relatively little, if any pain.

A swollen knee on the day following a painful episode is a good indication that you have damaged your knee.

Medial cartilage tears, on the inside of the knee, are more common than lateral cartilage tears, on the outside of the knee.

Many tennis players simply live with a cartilage tear that does not bother them too much.

Even a highly active player, who is much more likely to have symptoms, may only feel intermittent pain.

If you have a cartilage tear and it remains painful even after conservative treatment with anti-inflammatory agents, decreased activity, and quadriceps-strengthening exercises, then arthroscopic surgery can remove the torn portion of cartilage.

Then you should rehabilitate your leg muscles to help regain full range of motion in the knee.

Like most tennis players, if you have torn cartilage you can likely return to play at the same level, even if you need surgery more than once for tearing knee cartilage.

New Sunscreen Labels Decoded

If you’re out in the sun playing tennis or golf, jogging or cycling, you need to protect your skin from the damaging ultraviolet rays.

Newly revised sunscreen labels should make it easier for you to make a smart choice on which products to use.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that labels must provide information about whether a sunscreen will protect against skin cancer in addition to sunburn, and will also have to indicate whether a sunscreen is water-resistant, which is what you want if you’re exercising outside.

To reduce your risk of skin cancer and early aging, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with the following features listed on the label:

Broad spectrum, which means the sunscreen protects against ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.

A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

SPF 15 is the FDA’s minimum recommendation for protection, but the academy recommends an SPF of at least 30.

Water-resistant for up to either 40 or 80 minutes.

This means the sunscreen provides protection while swimming or sweating for the length of time listed on the label.

Available sunscreen options include lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks, and sprays.

Creams are best for dry skin and the face.

Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.

Sticks are good to use around the eyes.

Sunscreen should be applied liberally, and should be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or excessive sweating, according to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention.

Dermatologists recommend the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen per application.

Sunscreens that are not water resistant must include a direction instructing consumers to use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.

Karthik Krishnamurthy, DO, chief dermatology consultant with the Melanoma Program at Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care, offers the following tips for the summer season:

Give skin the once-over.

Just one full-body skin check by a physician can be a lifesaver.

Additionally, monthly self-exams from the top of the head to the soles of the feet are highly effective in detecting early warning signs of melanoma, such as a mole that looks different.

“I remind patients of the ‘ABCDE’ rule to detect changes in a mole: A is for asymmetry, B is for border, C is for color, D is for diameter, and E is for evolving,” says Krishnamurthy.

“Any suspicious-looking moles or moles that have changed shape or color should be looked at by a physician as soon as possible.”

Know your risk.

Just one blistering sunburn, even in childhood, is enough to substantially increase your lifelong risk for melanoma.

Other risks include frequent sunbathing or indoor tanning, and a family history of melanoma.

“Fair-skinned individuals with red or blond hair and light-colored eyes are also at higher risk,” says Krishnamurthy.

Don’t assume darker skin makes you immune.

A survey of 1,000 Hispanic adults in New York and Miami conducted by Krishnamurthy showed alarming misconceptions about perceived risk.

Nearly half believed those with darker skin cannot get skin cancer.

“This is very concerning because although melanoma is less common in darker-skinned individuals, there is a higher risk of late diagnosis with advanced melanomas and lower survival rates,” he says.

Another way to prevent skin cancer is to wear protective clothing, such as a broad-brimmed hat to protect the back of the neck and ears, which are highly susceptible areas.

Darker clothes and hats block more dangerous ultraviolet rays than light-colored ones, but you have to balance out heat problems.

A light-colored cotton shirt has an SPF of about 8.

The bottom line: choose the best sunscreen for you and use it early and often to protect your skin before you head out to play your chosen sport.

Weekend Warriors Most Likely to Tear an Achilles Tendon

If you’re a man who exercises mostly on the weekend, a so-called “Weekend Warrior,” you have a higher risk of rupturing your Achilles tendon while playing sports than other Americans.

Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star basketball player who ruptured his Achilles tendon earlier this month, is in good company, according to a new study of Achilles tendon injuries in the US.Kobe Bryant Achilles injury

Basketball leads to about 1/3 of all Achilles ruptures in the US, followed by tennis (9%) and football (8%), report researchers in the April issue of Foot & Ankle International.

They reviewed 406 records from patients diagnosed with Achilles tendon injuries from August 2000 to December 2010.

On average, the patients who ruptured their Achilles tendon were 46 years old, mostly men (83%), and were injured playing sports (more than 2/3rds).

Older patients (over age 55) and those whose body mass index (BMI) was greater than 30 (considered obese) were more likely to have non-sports related causes and were more likely to not have been diagnosed correctly until more than one month after the injury.

More than 1/3 of the tendon ruptures not caused by sports occurred at work.

When the diagnosis was missed, it was usually because the initial diagnosis was an ankle sprain.

“Delayed diagnosis and treatment have been shown to result in poorer outcomes,” says lead author Steven Raikin, MD, of the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

“Older individuals, and those with a higher BMI, should be evaluated carefully if they have lower leg pain or swelling in the Achilles tendon region.”

Re-rupture of the same tendon occurred in 5% of the group, and 6% of the study’s population had previously ruptured the other leg’s tendon.

The study supports previous findings that an Achilles tendon rupture on one leg increases the likelihood of a rupture on the other leg.

When the same tendon was re-ruptured, 85% of those injuries had not been treated surgically earlier.

Signs of an Achilles Rupture

One sign of an Achilles rupture is the inability to stand on your toes.

However, this test is not completely reliable.

Also, when you walk, your foot may turn out to the side.

A ruptured Achilles tendon can be confused with a partial rupture because it may cause little pain at first.

In fact, an Achilles rupture is quite often misdiagnosed.

The only foolproof way to know if you have ruptured this tendon is to lie on your stomach with your foot off the end of a bed, toes pointing down, and have someone squeeze your calf.

The front of the foot normally will move down.

If there is no flex in the foot, then the tendon is torn.

You can also compare the two legs.

Squeeze the uninjured leg first to observe the flexing movement, and then squeeze the injured leg to see whether it moves.

As this new study shows, if you injure your Achilles tendon, getting to a doctor sooner than later will speed your recovery.