Elbow Injuries – Justine Henin’s Wimbledon Elbow Injury
Elbow injuries are common in Tennis and Justine Henin injured her elbow by falling on her outstretched right arm during her Wimbledon 4th round match with Kim Clijsters. Normally elbow injuries in tennis are caused by the stresses on the elbow by the speed the players strike the ball and the repetitive forces generated at the elbow. So Justine’s injury was more than a little unfortunate.
Henin suffered her elbow injury midway through the first set against Clijsters.
As she fell she overextended her elbow and if you look at the photos you can see the stresses causing her elbow injury as she lands.
At one point all her weight is through the arm and elbow!
These kind of elbow injuries are called ‘extrinsic’ – that is the forces causing the elbow injuries are being generated from outside the body (her landing on her arm).
‘Intrinsic’ elbow injuries are caused by forces generated inside the body – hitting lots of balls very hard!
These stresses are localised to the inner (medial) aspect of her elbow and stretch the ligament here.
As you can see from the diagram the Ulnar Collateral Ligament attaches the Humerus and the Ulna bones together. The ligament actually has 2 parts to it and strengthens the joint capsule on the medial side of the elbow joint. This ulnar collateral ligament helps to stop the inside of your elbow from opening up or gapping under stress.
Justine Henin Out for the Season
Initially Justine said “Following my fall at Wimbledon, I took several medical examinations that have revealed a partial ligament fracture of the right elbow,” Henin said. “This injury will keep me away from the courts for a rough period of two months, with the consequence that I have withdrawn from the US Open.”
By the 18th August 2010 her website was reporting “It is still a slow recovery so I need to be patient again until the end of 2010. For my preparation for the competition in 2011, I cannot take any risks, so I hope to go back to practice in October. I’ll work hard and get ready for this new season!”
I can surmise that Justine has a partial tear of her Anterior Oblique Ligament which is the upper part of the ligament in the diagram above. This part of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament is under the most stress when the elbow is nearly straight and the forearm is rotating – as in the Tennis Serve.
Elbow Injuries and The Tennis Serve
Intrinsic Elbow Injuries
During the tennis serve the elbow is reported to move through 982 degrees per second that’s almost 4 full circles. In addition to this there is a large rotation and valgus force at the elbow.
This combination of valgus forces and rapid extension results in tensile forces along the inner side of the elbow. This combination is often called “valgus extension overload” syndrome in overhead athletes and can play a role in some injuries in the elbow in tennis players. So you can appreciate why Justine is having to rest and recover the strength in her elbow before competing again.
Justine Henin with compatriot Kim Clijsters at a match that they were due to play in Belgium.
Notice that she is wearing her elbow support to protect the damaged elbow ligaments.
For more information on Elbow Injuries see this post Tennis Elbow Lateral Epicondylitis Elbow Injuries – Top 10 Questions
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 at 12:01 pm and is filed under Elbow and Forearm Pain, Medial / Lateral Epicondylitis Elbow Injuries. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.