Tennis racket grip related to type of wrist injury

NEW YORK Thu May 7, 2009 3:32pm EDT

Switzerland's Martina Hingis holds the racket to her face as she waits for the ball during her quarter-final match against Belgium's Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 24, 2007. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Switzerland's Martina Hingis holds the racket to her face as she waits for the ball during her quarter-final match against Belgium's Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 24, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Whiteside

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Wrist injuries among amateur tennis players are associated with the type of grip used during forehand strokes, study findings suggest.

In a review of wrist injuries suffered by high-level non-professional tennis players, Dr. Alberto Stefano Tagliafico and colleagues found Western and semi-Western grips more often associated with ulnar-sided (pinky finger side) wrist injury.

By contrast, "the Eastern grip was linked with radial-sided wrist injuries," Tagliafico, of the University of Genova in Genoa, Italy, told Reuters Health.

The classic forehand Eastern grip, appropriate for different tennis styles and surfaces of play, and the semi-Western grip which makes it easier to hit high ball, are both suitable for non-professional tennis players, Tagliafico and colleagues report in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

On the other hand, the Western grip requires a strong wrist and perfect timing to avoid wrist injury as it involves holding the racket at a different inclination, the researchers note.

Non-professional tennis players should understand that "extreme grips, such as the Western, may cause ulnar-side wrist injuries," Tagliafico said.

His team assessed hand grip and wrist injury type among 370 division III and division IV tennis players over an 18 month period. The injured and non-injured players showed no significant differences in body mass, years of practice, weekly training hours, racket weight, or string type used.

Of the 50 injured players, 12 reported using the Eastern grip and 38 reported using the semi-Western and Western grips.

The Eastern grip players were significantly older (42 years on average) and played tennis for significantly longer (20 years on average) than did semi-Western and Western grip users who were 22 years old on average and had played tennis for an average of 8 years.

In further analyses, only grip appeared associated with wrist injury type - the Eastern with radial-sided injuries and the semi-Western and Western with ulnar-sided injuries.

Tagliafico and colleagues suggest that physicians consider grip type when investigating tennis players' wrist injuries.

SOURCE: American Journal of Sports Medicine, April 2009.

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