How To Avoid A Meniscus Tear

A Beginner’s Guide To Menisci

The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that functions to improve the fit between your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone), to absorb shock and distribute the load in the knee, and to help move lubricating fluid around the knee. There are two in each knee, however, the tearing of one can cause serious damage to a competitor’s ability to play their sport. Menisci can be damaged or torn during activities that put pressure on, or rotate the knee joint. Usually, a popping sensation followed by pain in the knee is a common indicator of a torn meniscus. 

Torn Menisci In The Tennis World

Meniscus tears are usually associated with sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and what you’re most likely here for tennis. Multiple well-known tennis players in the ATP and WTA have suffered meniscus tears due to the constant pivoting and rapid motions that follow this sport; however, I am going to lead you through the incidences of Roger Federer and Bianca Andreescu where the “click” of their knee halted their tennis careers and what they could’ve done to prevent it. 

How Federer Could’ve Avoided A Meniscus Tear (2016)

In 2016, Roger Federer opened up about how he had recently undergone arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He continued to outline how the injury had occurred just one day after his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at January’s Australian Open. In the ATP Tour News, Federer mentioned that while he was running a bath for his daughters, he remembered turning and that his knee felt funny, however,  when he turned back, he felt the click. “I did feel that something was strange in my knee. Very simple movement, probably a movement I’ve done a million times in my life for sure.” Federer knew that this was a movement that he had unquestionably done a great number of times before, but this time was different. What Roger didn’t know was that the most traumatic meniscal tears occur as a result of a twisting injury when the knee rotates but the foot stays fixed in position. For that reason, Federer could have prevented this injury by ensuring that his upper body moved symmetrically with his lower. 

How Andreescu Could’ve Avoided A Meniscus Tear (2019)

Along with Federer, Bianca Andreescu had her own share of a career stopping meniscus tear. In 2019, Bianca’s season came to an unfortunate end at the WTA Finals after the 19-year-old was forced to retire with a knee injury. Andreescu lasted a little more than one set before surrendering to Karolina Pliskova 3-6. Andreescu stated that, like Federer, she heard the crack after her knee twisted that soon got replaced by the aching pain and swelling. Her trainer confirmed her thoughts of the meniscus tear while Bianca fought through not being able to bend her knee without it cracking every time she tried. Since Bianca’s injury was on the court, her prevention is different from Federers, while still following the same concept of the body moving symmetrically. We are not able to know the exact incident that led to her injury that day, however, there are many ways to prevent this season interrupting injury. 

  • Take shock absorption off of the menisci/ex: keep the thigh muscles strong 
  • Warming up with light activities before matches
  • Give your body time to rest (you can’t work all the time)
  • Correct shoe wear (get shoes that have enough support and fit correctly)
  • Maintain flexibility
  • Never abruptly increase the intensity of your workout (slow & steady wins the race)
  • Learn the proper techniques for the activities you engage in / tennis ex: learn to jump, run, pivot, etc., correctly 

Tennis is a demanding, injury-inducing sport. Even with the injuries that The Tennis Advocate has already covered (tennis elbow, rotator cuff tendonitis), there are plenty more associated with the tennis world. With this in mind, The Tennis Advocate encourages you to always do what you love but to do it in the safest way possible. Prevention of injuries can not only help you in your younger and fun-filled ages but also can help you to live your best life in your declining years.

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