Squash is a high speed, high impact game. It’s exciting and physically challenging, and a great way to stay fit. We love the game and this year we are once again proud to be sponsoring the Kenilworth Tennis, Squash and Croquet Club (KTSCC).
Harry went along to the club this week to meet and massage KTSCC members, and to chat about any injuries and niggles they felt - the most common were pain in the trapezius muscle (neck, shoulders and upper back), limited range of movement in the shoulders (see our blog on rotator cuff injuries), plus knee pain.
We’d definitely recommend giving squash a try, but to make sure you stay on the squash court and off the injury bench, here’s our top tips to avoid some common injuries.
Common types of squash injury we see in the treatment room
Due to the speed of the sport, the twists and turns required, the power of the ball and the impact on the racquet, a variety of injuries can occur. Plus, banging into those walls can hurt!
Common injuries include; muscle pulls, strains and sprains, overuse injuries, impact injuries, and injuries caused by slips or falls.
Lower limb injuries are probably the most common squash injuries. These are generally caused by the sprinting, the changes in direction, explosive movements and the fast-paced nature of the game. Lower limb squash injuries can be acute, such as a trauma (sprains) or chronic, such as long term inflammation (tendonitis).
Upper limb injuries, such as in the elbow, shoulder and wrist, are usually caused by high-velocity and repetitive arm movements. These injuries tend to fall in the chronic overuse category, such as tennis elbow. These can also be caused through collisions.
Back injuries and pain can be caused or exacerbated by the movements required to reach low balls, or by twisting movements.
How can you prevent injuries from occurring?
1. Do a good warm-up and cool down: Warming up for any sport is a no-brainer. When it comes to squash, it is especially relevant due to the twists, turns, stretches, and lunges the game demands of you. Sprains and hyperextensions aside, going from a cold start to a super high heart rate in a very short space of time could have other health implications.
2. Embrace the recovery days: You can have too much of a good thing! Most squash players will spend a lot of time on the court playing. Listen to your body, over-training will cost you through muscle fatigue and wear and tear on your joints. Even at a professional level, players will take at least a day off to rest and recover.
3. Mix your training up! Use other types of exercise to prevent repetitive strain injuries, encourage wider range of movement, and develop strength and stamina.
4. Don’t play while injured: As tempting as it is, getting back on court before full recovery from a injury is a close second to over-training. If you don’t heed the warning signs, it may come back to haunt you. Going back too soon inevitably will lead to a recurrence or further injury. If your ankle is sore or your rotator cuff is acting up again, a couple of days off the court to do some light weights or stretches may be in order. Masking your pain by taking anti-inflammatory pills may eventually be counter-productive.
5. Invest in proper kit:
- protective eye-gear; a fast-moving squash ball in the face (or eye) is going to hurt, or worse. Some courts now insist players wear protective eye gear before allowing them to play.
- ensure you have proper footwear; squash shoes are designed to protect players feet by reducing friction and reduce the risk of blisters or sprains. They are also non-marking which the squash club will thank you for!
- Use tape to protect your hands and prevent blisters.
- Use support tubes or tape to protect your knees and ankles, particularly if you have a history of problems in those areas.
6. Stretching: make sure you stretch well after your game.
7. Hydration: Drink plenty of water before, during and after to prevent dehydration.
8. Sports massage: not injured? Then consider regular maintenance massages to keep you on top of your game. If you are injured, early assessment, treatment and intervention can help you get back to playing sooner. If you do suffer an injury, stop playing immediately and apply ice as soon as possible.