Can Tennis Cause Back Pain?


We’ve all heard that playing tennis can be bad for your back, but is this really true? Surprisingly, the answer is not always clear. While there is some evidence that suggests playing tennis can lead to back pain, other research indicates that this activity may actually be beneficial for the spine. So, what’s the truth? Let’s take a closer look. 

Tennis and Back Pain 

Many people who play the sport of tennis often end up with back pain. During a match, players run repeatedly backwards and forwards, twist their bodies to hit the ball, and swing themselves into awkward positions as they volley for return shots. All these moves can put a lot of stress on the spine. In fact, some research has shown that over time, the repeated twisting and swinging movements in tennis can speed up spinal degeneration. 

But interestingly, other studies have found that taking up the sport of tennis later in life may actually help strengthen back muscles , which can reduce pain caused by an ailing spine . This suggests that if you are new to the game of tennis, don’t let all the negative information about playing this sport scare you. Instead, talk to your doctor and see if learning the game can be beneficial for you. 

Caveat: While the jury is still undecided on whether or not playing tennis can help or hurt your back, it’s important to remember that any wrong movement on the court could result in injury. Also, if you already have a bad back, there are still ways you can enjoy this game without hurting yourself. 

What causes back pain from tennis? 

  1. You need to be on the lookout for movements that may cause injury or pain. This includes: 
  1. Bending or twisting your back in an awkward manner as you hit shots 
  1. Tensing and tightening your back as you struggle to hit a shot, volley, or return a serve 
  1. Slamming your racket into the ground too forcefully after missing a shot 
  1. Hunching over your racket as you prepare for a shot 
  1. Slumping during changeovers to relax your back muscles 
  1. You’re also more likely to hurt your back if you try to play through pain or wear shoes that don’t fit. So, be mindful of how you are moving throughout the game and do what you can to prevent back pain before it starts. 

What Is The Fastest Way To Relieve Back Pain? 

If you are suffering from back pain after playing tennis, here’s what to do: 

Take a break. Give yourself a few minutes to recover your breath and relax your muscles. You may want to try laying down on a bench or just taking a walk around the court. While doing this may help ease your pain, it is not a good idea to do this during a match as your opponent may need the bench. 

After giving yourself a quick break, you should try some gentle stretches . This could consist of walking in place and bending over and touching your toes. These simple exercises can help relax tense muscles and improve blood flow to the area. 

Next, apply ice to the injured area. Keep the ice on for 15-20 minutes and repeat the process if necessary. 

You can also choose to take some over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen to reduce inflammation of the muscles. For more information, check out our article on how to relieve back pain . 

If you suffer from back pain after playing tennis, it doesn’t have to stop you from taking up the game. Just make sure you are mindful of how you move when on the court and do your best to avoid risky movements that could cause serious injury. 

As always, consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine or use of medication. 

When You Should Be Worried About Back Pain? 

Sometimes back pain can be caused by serious injuries like herniated discs, pinched nerves, or spinal stenosis. These are medical conditions that require immediate attention and often require surgery to repair. 

However, if you think you might be suffering from any of these serious conditions, then it is important to seek out professional help immediately. The earlier you are able to get treatment, the better your chances are of avoiding more serious complications. 

If you have had an accident that has injured your back, then you may be eligible for money compensation . This includes injuries caused by dangerous playing surfaces or dangerous courtside equipment/surfaces. 

It’s also important to file a report with the United States Tennis Association (USTA). This is especially important if your injuries were caused by a defective court surface. 

Can Being Lazy Cause Back Pain? 

Sometimes back pain can be caused by lifestyle factors. Spending long hours sitting down, for example, can cause discomfort in the lower back area. 

This is because this position places pressure on your discs and restricts blood flow to the area. This not only causes increased pressure on your muscles but also slows recovery time after strenuous activity like playing tennis. 

What’s The Best Cream For Back Pain? 

  1. Tiger Balm 
  1. Salnopas Deep Pain Relieving Gel 
  1. Dr. Blue Cool Gel 

When Tennis might be bad for your back? 

Lack of proper form 

For example, swinging too hard or using jerky movements can lead to back strain. Slouching is also a bad habit to get into when playing tennis because it puts excess pressure on your back muscles. 

Most importantly, it’s important to avoid risky movements like diving for a ball. Being mindful of your back throughout the game and avoiding unnecessary movements is the best way to prevent injury when playing tennis. 

Not Stretching 

Tennis is an intense sport that requires a good deal of stretching before and after play. If you don’t stretch properly, your back muscles might seize up during the game. This increases the likelihood of injury to the lower back area. 


Playing under pressure can also take its toll on your body, particularly your back. Stress can limit the flow of oxygen to the muscles and cause cramps, spasms, and other injuries that can lead to long-term pain. 

Not Getting Enough Exercise 

Tennis is an intense sport that requires regular exercise for good fitness. If you don’t get enough exercise on a regular basis, then your body becomes weak over time. This makes you more susceptible to injury, particularly in the lower back area. 


Being overweight can also increase your chances of suffering from back problems . Overweight people tend to have weaker core muscles that are unable to support their weight properly. If you are overweight and want to improve your game, then losing some excess pounds will go a long way towards helping you with your game. 

Poorly-fitting shoes 

This is another factor that causes unnecessary pressure and stress on your muscles. While buying new tennis shoes can be expensive (especially as you may need several pairs as the ones you own wear out), it is much more cost effective than 

Lack of proper warm-up 

Properly warming up your muscles before playing tennis is important for preventing injury. You should spend at least 10 minutes stretching out your legs, back, and other muscles that might be pulled if you don’t stretch properly. Tennis 

is an intense game, and your muscles can get pulled if you don’t warm up. 

Pushing your body to extreme limits 

Overexertion is one of the main causes of stress on your muscles, which in turn can lead to injury. Pushing yourself to play an extra few sets or staying on the court for another hour might seem like a good idea at first, but it can quickly backfire when you start feeling muscle cramps and spasms. 

Body weight issues 

Being overweight increases your chances of suffering from various injuries when playing tennis. Even if you manage to lose some weight, your muscles might still be too weak to support your weight properly, which in turn increases the risk of injury. 

Improper equipment and gear 

Make sure that your equipment is the correct size for you. Having a racket or shoes that are too big can cause you to twist awkwardly, which increases pressure on the lower back muscles and might lead to injury. 

Poorly-fitted and worn equipment is another common cause of injuries. Tennis shoes especially wear out quickly, and you will need to replace them regularly if you want to play in optimum condition. 

8 Prevention tips to avoid back issues In Tennis 

Use the correct technique. 

Your back muscles should be relaxed and loose as you play, not tensed or bunched up. 

Avoid risky movements such as diving for balls. If possible, move to the side so that low-risk movements can get your ball into play. 

Stick to shots that don’t require much twisting or straining of your back muscles. 

Advanced players should always be aware of their footwork and positioning, as this can prevent injuries to the lower back area. 

Warm up & Cool down 

Tennis is a physical sport, and it requires regular exercise to maintain a good level of fitness. If you don’t warm up or cool down properly before or after playing tennis, then you risk straining or pulling your muscles as you play. 

What happens when the back goes out? When one of those muscles gets pulled from damage, weak play, or overuse it can result in the back going out. 

Strengthening exercises 

Your muscles should be strong to support your body weight. If you suffer from back pain, then specific exercises can help restore muscle function and reduce the risk of injury. 

Cardio exercise 

Cardio exercises such as jogging or cycling help strengthen your cardiovascular system so that you have a sufficient supply of oxygen to keep going for longer periods of time. If you are overweight or out of shape, cycling is a good way to get your cardio up to speed without putting too much pressure on your back muscles. 

Higher intensity exercises such as weightlifting are also effective at strengthening the major muscle groups in the body, but they should be done with proper supervision and only after you have built up the required strength and stamina. 

Stretch out regularly 

Tennis involves sudden, explosive movements such as swinging a racquet or chasing down a drop shot, which can put pressure on the lower back muscles if they are not properly stretched out. 

When you stretch, make sure to take it slowly and never push your body to its limits – stretching should be a gradual process rather than an instantaneous one. Make sure to stretch at least 10 minutes before and after playing tennis, as well as every couple of hours during a long practice session. 

Check For Muscle Imbalances 

It is important to correct any muscle imbalances you might have before they can cause further problems. Do not go straight into exercises that focus on the back muscles – you should start with general strengthening of the core group of muscles before moving on to more specific exercises. 

Play less frequently and take more rest days 

Yes, it’s hard to do. It’s even harder when you consider the amount of time you spend practicing during your off-days. But tennis is a physical sport where back injuries are common, so make sure you pace yourself and don’t overdo it. 

Practice Yoga 

Yoga is an effective way to strengthen your back muscles, as well as working out other groups that are often neglected in sports such as tennis. This makes yoga a good supplementary exercise for emerging players who want to get the most out of their bodies and avoid injuries. 

Lose weight 

If you are overweight and suffering from back pains, then the best way to get rid of them is by losing excess body fat. The less you weigh, the less pressure your back will have to deal with when you move or swing your racquet around. 

Lose weight slowly and steadily over time – crash dieting will only cause additional problems and make it harder to lose weight in the long run. 

If you need help with losing weight and keeping it off, then ask your doctor or nutritionist about getting a meal plan that will suit your lifestyle and activity levels. 

Get the right equipment 

Shoes that are too tight or worn out can cause back pain, so make sure you get the right size when buying new shoes (your feet should be able to move around in them). 

The right equipment is also important in terms of racquets and strings. If you use the same racquet for every practice session then it will wear down and break down much faster, so if you have the budget try to buy a backup racquet. 

This will not only increase your lifespan, but it will also allow you to experiment with different types of racquets without having to worry about the consequences. Finally, don’t forget to restring your racquet regularly – old strings are just as bad for your back as a worn out racquet. 

The right shoes and strings will make sure that no unnecessary pressure is put on your back during tennis practice and matches. 

Should you play Tennis if you have back pain? 

Tennis is a very physical sport, and the risk of suffering from back pain is always present. However, if you pace yourself and follow the exercises outlined in this article then your chances of sustaining such an injury will be greatly reduced. 

If you exercise frequently and make sure to stretch at least 10 minutes before and after playing tennis, then you will be on the right path to getting rid of your back pain and playing better tennis. 

Two main types of back pain while playing Tennis 

Upper back pain 

Upper back pain is often caused by bad posture, which is why it’s important to stretch regularly. Keep your shoulders down and avoid hunching over the ball while practicing – this will go a long way towards preventing upper back pain during matches as well. 

Stretching should be done regularly before and after games to keep your back muscles flexible. 

Lower back pain 

Lower back pain is usually caused by muscle imbalances. This means that one group of muscles (the core/back) is stronger than the other, causing them to strain and eventually hurt. 

Lower back injury can either be caused by a single accident or by numerous small traumas over time. However, the most common cause of lower back pain in tennis is poor movement technique (i.e., running incorrectly), so make sure to work with an experienced trainer before playing matches again. 

Lower back pain usually manifests itself as a sharp or dull ache in your lower spine. It’s usually caused by playing with poor posture, so pay extra attention to it when practicing and make sure you get plenty of rest between each game. 

How to prevent back pain resulted from tennis? 

1. Enough warmup before 

It’s vital to warm up your back before you play, because the movements involved in table tennis are repetitive and can easily stress your lower back. The best way to do this is to start by lightly swinging the racquet for 1-2 minutes then follow that with some light stretches. If you have a trainer then they can assist you with this. 

2. Strengthen your muscles 

Doing exercises for your lower back might not prevent injury positively, but it will keep your back strong enough to stop any injuries from happening. In addition to strengthening the muscles in your lower back, you should also work on your core muscles – this will give you a much more stable base which will ultimately help decrease the risk of further injury. 

3. Correct your form 

Even if you follow all of the above advice and still end up with back pain it’s important not to panic – this is very often caused by poor movement technique (i.e., bad running form). In such cases your first step should be to rest for a couple of days, as this will give the inflamed muscles a chance to relax.

After a few days of rest, you can slowly begin to exercise again. The best way to recover from tennis-related back injuries is with the help of a trainer – they will know exactly what movements to avoid and how long you should rest before undergoing physical activity again. 

4. Stretch properly 

Stretching is an essential part of any fitness routine, but the stretches you pull on your lower back should always be done properly. Never stretch a painful back – this might cause further damage and other problems. Instead, start by lightly swinging your racquet or shaking your legs to warm up. This will make it much easier for the blood to rush to your muscles and loosen them up a bit. 

The most common mistake people make when they’re stretching is that they don’t hold the position for long enough – 10 seconds is usually more than enough time to get a good stretch in. If you feel any pressure while doing stretches, then stop immediately. 

5. Take it easy on the court 

If you feel pain in your lower back while playing, then stop immediately and go sit by the side of the court. Adopt a sitting position and relax your body – this will help reduce pressure on your spine and give it some time to recover. 

Should You Keep Playing If Your Back Hurts? 

Yes, you can play with back pain if the injury is not too serious. However, this also depends on how severe your case of lower back pain is. If it’s particularly bad then it might be best to hold off for a while and let your muscles get some rest before playing again. 

The vast majority of cases are nothing to worry about, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you’re really worried about your back playing tennis then you can visit a doctor or physical therapist to see if they think that continuing to play is a good idea or not. 

How Long Does Back Pain Take To Heal? 

The amount of time back pain will take to heal depends on your case. If your lower back is very inflamed then it might take a few days before the pain starts to subside, but even in this situation you can still play tennis with some precautions – just don’t overstretch yourself and always have breaks between practice sessions. 

What muscles are sore after tennis? 

If you are playing tennis then your core muscles will be sore, since these are the most important ones to use when playing. Other common muscles that are used during play include your legs and arms (shoulders), back, and gluteus (butt). 

As you have seen, there are many muscles that are involved in playing tennis. However, the most common injuries are to the calf muscles and the hamstring muscles. The former is usually caused by overstretching which can happen during serves or if you lose your balance when running for a ball. 

Why does my lower back hurt after tennis? 

Lower back injury is most often caused by poor movement technique, bad form or playing too much without allowing for recovery time. 

When you have back pain during tennis then there are numerous potential reasons that could be causing it. The most common cause is actually not an injury at all – instead it’s a result of the way you hold yourself while playing. To avoid this, make sure that you keep your back straight and bend from the hips when you serve or hit a shot. 

Is Tennis Hard On Your Body? 

Tennis is a tough sport to play, no matter how experienced you are or what your level of determination is. You can’t afford to lose focus for even a few seconds – if you do, then it might cost you the entire match. 

That being said, playing tennis isn’t particularly hard on your body – as long as you stretch and warm up properly before playing and follow the other tips here, then you shouldn’t encounter too many problems. 

Final Thoughts 

 If you have a history of back pain, it is important to take precautions before playing tennis. In the future, if your back starts hurting during play or after physical activity, make sure to rest and try not to overwork yourself. 

I hope this article has been helpful in answering your questions about whether or not tennis can cause back pain. 

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