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Taking care of the tennis players during their training, key to avoiding future injuries

The 'Sciences applied to tennis' conference, organised by the UCAM Chair of Sports Traumatology, brought together leading experts from numerous fields at the Los Jerónimos Campus

Taking care of the tennis players during their training, key to avoiding future injuries
Photograph of the 'Sciences applied to tennis' conference held at the UCAM, which featured, among others, the doctors of Carlos Alcaraz and Rafa Nadal.

Psychology, nutrition, podiatry, physical preparation, physiotherapy, traumatology and even sensor chemistry were some of the areas covered in the conferences and lectures at the 'Sciences applied to tennis' conference, which was held at the Los Jerónimos Campus, organised by the UCAM Chair of Sports Traumatology. Among the participants, researchers, teachers and top professionals were Pedro Guillén, honorary dean of the UCAM Degree in Medicine and director of the CEMTRO Clinic; Ángel Ruiz Cotorro, head of the Medical Services of the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation; Juan José López, traumatologist and doctor of the tennis player Carlos Alcaraz; María Cuartero and Gastón Crespo, directors of the UCAM Chair of Sensor Chemistry, etc.

José Luis Martínez Romero, director of the Chair of Sports Traumatology, stressed that ‘the main objective is always to help our athletes. That is why the slogan of this day is ‘From initiation to elite, always well accompanied’, because we think that the training of young tennis players and the application of the different disciplines in their development is key’. For Lourdes Meroño, dean of the UCAM Faculty of Sports this conference serves to ‘better understand a sport as complex as tennis, in which factors as diverse as physiology, biomechanics, psychology and nutrition intervene. And to apply all the lessons we learn in any other field’.

From the perspective of the clinical application to injuries of athletes in general and tennis players in particular, Dr Pedro Guillén pointed out that at present ‘there is still no real treatment to shorten the recovery time of muscle injuries’ although he recalled the studies he has carried out together with Dr Juan Carlos Izpisúa, professor of Developmental Biology at the UCAM, which have obtained promising results in mice. The end goal of these studies is not only the elite athlete, as they could also be applied to sarcopenia patients or anyone suffering from a muscle injury.

Cuidar al tenista en su formación, clave para evitar lesiones futuras

More specifically, in the field of medicine applied to tennis, Ángel Ruiz Cotorro reviewed the risks of injury in young tennis players and its consequences for the future, stressing that ‘there is a very high percentage of injuries between the ages of 12 and 16, some of which can condition their sporting career. We found tendon, spine, hip and overload injuries. The most affected parts are the shoulder, the wrist, the back and lately the incidence of hip injuries has been increasing, as the kids are training long hours for their age. These injuries result in an average of 5 to 6 weeks of medical leave’.

In professionals, injuries are also aggravated and occur more frequently due to the change in playing style: ‘Tennis has evolved and is now a much faster sport, which demands more effort for a longer period of time from the players and which pushes them to the limit. That is why we have seen hip problems in relatively young players, like Andy Murray. In his experience, in order to tackle these problems, or at least to reduce their impact, ‘a holistic approach in tennis is key. We have to control everything: nutrition, physiotherapy, training, psychology, even the materials we use? If we do not do this, we will fail to prevent injuries’.

Carlos Alcaraz's team ‘on cloud nine’

The traumatologist Juan José López, Carlos Alcaraz's doctor, also spoke about prevention, addressing knee problems, specifically patellar instability in young tennis players: ‘There is an increase in this type of pathology, and it is happening a lot in adolescents. Prevention begins with a medical examination of any athlete who is currently competing at a high level. It is important to do physical and strength work with a physical trainer and a physiotherapist to correct possible alterations, which are what cause future injuries’.

On his experience accompanying Carlos Alcaraz on international level, he says that ‘we are still on cloud nine. We are working with the number one, and that is incredible. However, we have to be clear that not everything is a bed of roses. We have achieved success such as in the US Open, but there are also the injuries, which is exactly what we all want to avoid. Overall, the experience is ten out of ten. This 2022 has been beautiful and now we know that the demands will be extremely high, but we are ready for Carlos to continue providing great joy to the Spanish and world public’.

Other researchers, teachers and prominent professionals also participated in the conference, such as José Antonio Arranz, researcher at the UCAM Faculty of Sports and expert in teaching tennis, and Antonio Martínez Cascales, head of Equelite Sport JC Ferrero, who in his closing conference explained the work that was done in his day to accompany Juan Carlos Ferrero to the world elite and number one; a path that has now also been walked by Carlos Alcaraz.

The list of speakers and moderators was completed by: María José Maciá Andreu, researcher at the Faculty of Sports; Francisco Esparza, professor of Cineanthropometry and director of the Master's Degree in Sports Traumatology at UCAM; Pedro Emilio Alcaraz, director of the UCAM Research Centre for High Performance Sport; Antonio Martínez and Francisco Javier Martínez, researchers at said centre; Ana Salas, tennis player, director of the Bepro Foundation; Concepción Romero, specialist in Sports Medicine (CEMTRO Clinic); Carlos Sánchez, deputy director of the Chair of Sports Traumatology; Francisco Rubio, physiotherapist and manager of the Base Clinic; Néstor Marco, psychologist (JC Ferrero-Equelite Sport Academy); Alejandro Sánchez, physical trainer and coach of the Tennis School of the Real Sociedad Club de Campo de El Palmar; Carles Ruiz, podiatrist (JC Ferrero-Equelite Sport Academy); Purificación Cánovas, director of Cultural Management of Planeta Azul; Alfredo Octavio Sarriá, coordinator of MET Carlos Alcaraz Tennis Academy by Reina at the Real Sociedad Club de Campo de Murcia; Juan Antonio Marín, director of the Murcia Club de Tenis school; Antonio Vila, director of the Murcia City Council Tennis School; and Jorge García, technical director of the Murcia Region Tennis Federation Tennis School.

The event has had the collaboration and sponsorship of the Directorate General of Sports of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia, Caja Rural Central, Grupo Fuertes, Postres Reina and Júver.