The Musculoskeletal Health Benefits of Tennis

Jackson, Matthew J. and Roche, Denise M. and Amirabdollahian, Farzad and Koehn, Stefan and Khaiyat, Omid A. (2019) The Musculoskeletal Health Benefits of Tennis. Sports Health: A Multidimensional Approach. ISSN 1941-7381

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The prevalence of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions is increasing, and although current guidelines for physical activity attempt to combat this, many fail to achieve the recommended targets. The present study sought to investigate whether regular tennis participation is more effective at enhancing MSK function than meeting the current international physical activity guidelines.

Tennis players will display significantly enhanced MSK function when compared with age-matched healthy active nonplayers.

Study Design:
Cross-sectional study.

Level of Evidence:
Level 3.

Ninety participants (age range, 18-65 years) took part in this study; there were 43 tennis players (18 men, 25 women) and 47 nonplayers (26 men, 21 women). MSK function was assessed by cluster analysis of 3 factors: (1) electromyographic fatigability of prime movers during handgrip, knee extension, and knee flexion; (2) isometric strength in the aforementioned movements; and (3) body composition measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis. Maximal oxygen uptake was also assessed to characterize cardiorespiratory fitness.

Tennis players displayed significantly greater upper body MSK function than nonplayers when cluster scores of body fat percentage, handgrip strength, and flexor carpi radialis fatigue were compared by analysis of covariance, using age as a covariate (tennis players, 0.33 ± 1.93 vs nonplayers, −0.26 ± 1.66; P < 0.05). Similarly, tennis players also demonstrated greater lower extremity function in a cluster of body fat percentage, knee extension strength, and rectus femoris fatigue (tennis players, 0.17 ± 1.76 vs nonplayers, −0.16 ± 1.70; P < 0.05).

The present study offers support for improved MSK functionality in tennis players when compared with age-matched healthy active nonplayers. This may be due to the hybrid high-intensity interval training nature of tennis.

Clinical Relevance:
The findings suggest tennis is an excellent activity mode to promote MSK health and should therefore be more frequently recommended as a viable alternative to existing physical activity guidelines.

Keywords tennis, health, musculoskeletal function, cluster analysis, physical activity

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is the author's post peer review version of an article, the final version of which is published in the Sage Publications journal Sports Health: a multi-dimensional approach. Available online:
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: Matthew Jackson
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 09:59
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2019 09:59

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