Tennis Injuries: Piriformis Syndrome

tennis injury

Piriformis Syndrome is a rather common hip injury affecting tennis players that is often mistaken for sciatica, due to similar symptoms. The Piriformis muscle is tiny, beginning at the base of our spine (sacrum) and attaching to the greater trochanter on our femur. 

The piriformis assists the glutes in rotating our hip joints, allowing us to perform hip extensions and abductions more quickly. Tennis players perform these motions constantly when lunging or changing position to reach the ball during a match. With this constant repetition, the gluteus muscles can tire and the tiny piriformis takes on more responsibility for twisting the hip joint.

This overuse of the muscle leads to piriformis syndrome, causing pain in the lower back and hips that shoots down the buttocks.

Fortunately, piriformis syndrome can be corrected with conservative methods, but because the muscle is so difficult to reach, tennis players will need the help of a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine. 

A professional can perform myofascial release that will relieve tightness and trigger points in the muscle. A physical therapist will also be able to guide a patient through custom stretches to lengthen the piriformis and return it to its prior flexibility and range of motion. After a few weeks of a sports rehabilitation program, tennis players will need to work with the sports medicine specialist to train the gluteus muscles, preventing future injuries that will interrupt gameplay. Sports specific training is the best way for tennis players to retrain their bodies after an injury to compensate for the weak area and avoid recurring injuries.

Dr. Rupesh Tarwala is a highly experienced orthopedic hip specialist. New York Bone and Joint Specialists is a top rated, private Orthopedic and Sports Medicine practice with locations in New York City, Hoboken, and Englewood, NJ. The Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Pain Management specialists routinely perform surgical and non-surgical treatments for professional athletes from across the United States.

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