As Andy Murray’s hip surgery recovery meant Wimbledon no show, new technology could reduce tennis injury

tennis joint injury tech

Less than 24 hours before the start of Wimbledon 2018, the news broke that Andy Murray was having to pull out of the competition due to his continued recovery from recent hip surgery which he underwent in January this year. The former World Number 1 player had been undertaking a period of rehabilitation to aid his recovery but concluded that competing at Wimbledon was a step too far in terms of allowing his body to heal effectively.

Progress has been slow since then, as Andy pulled out of the Washington Open after gruelling wins to reach the quarter-final. He then withdrew from the Roger’s Cup in Toronto to continue his recovery.

Murray is quoted as saying “I’ve made a lot of progress in the last month, which hadn’t really been the case for the past 10 or 11 months. I was going in the right direction. I would have been putting myself in a situation that I haven’t been able to replicate in training or practice recently. Which is maybe a bit unnecessary to do that at this stage.”

But could sports-related hip problems be a thing of the past thanks to the work of a team of scientists at Coventry University? Researchers there have developed a new technology that could help alleviate joint problems for sports enthusiasts like tennis players.

The pioneering research uses 3D modelling to study how tennis affects the body and joints of players. With the increased knowledge this brings, comes the ability to spot problems before they take hold and can help prevent the development of long-term joint injuries.

How does this tennis joint injury tech work?

The technology requires players to be monitored while wearing a special suit containing 17 different sensors that monitor different areas of the body. The research team from Coventry University explains “This information is used to animate a 3D moving avatar of the player, their skeleton, joints and more than 600 of their muscles, as well as the movement of the ball and racquet. It can give a range of information from the speeds of parts of the player’s body and the racquet, the weight placed on muscles and joints, and the sequence of movement the person goes through as they hit a ball.”

Armed with this level of 3D information, coaches can assess the stresses and strains on different areas of the body and, if needs be, can advise players to adjust their technique to reduce stress on particular areas.

Reassuring for tennis enthusiasts

For those of us who play tennis recreationally or professionally, this technology is a big step forward in terms of mitigating against injuries caused by sustained play.  Playing tennis can cause pressure on the ball and socket hip joint and can lead to a number of problems with the joint itself or the muscles around it. It isn’t just the elite players who are at risk of developing hip problems, it can affect anyone who plays regularly.

As Andy Murray has shown us, once you have undergone hip surgery it is important to get your mind and body ready for recovery, but don’t push yourself too far too soon. Always follow the advice of your orthopaedic surgeon as to when it is safe to resume playing, as they will know the most about the recovery expected from this type of operation and also how this ties in with your personal medical history.

Ensure that you talk to your physiotherapist about your plans to resume the sport as they will be able to factor this into your rehabilitation and give you a realistic timeframe of when you might be able to play again. Finally, when you are back on the courts ensure that you treat your new or modified joints with gentle care, ensure you are warming up sufficiently and are stretching your muscles before pushing them too hard.