These are one of the most infrequent injuries in sports. When they do happen the injured player doesn’t show signs of distress. Italian Matteo Berrettini happened to have suffered from such an injury this week when he withdrew in his Group Stage match with Sascha Zverev at the ATP Championships in Turin, Italy. What a painful way to exit a tournament in front of home fans. It has been such a great year for Matteo who was replaced by compatriot Jannik Sinner. Although they may seem harmless, abdominal injuries can be life threatening if they are not treated accordingly and promptly. First let’s look at how they are caused. Majority of abdominal injuries occur in contact sports although some may occur in non contact sports such as tennis just like it happened to Berrettini.
In tennis when a player hits a shot it involves movement of the lower part of the abdomen muscles to get some control on the shot. The injuries can be divided into two categories. One is the splenic injury which is the most common and the liver injuries which accounts for the most deaths. In contact sports such as NFL the collision between players can result in the blunt force abdominal injury but a factor that is not always conspicuous to medical personnel is the size of the spleen or liver of the player as a factor that determines seriousness of the injuries.
The larger the liver, the more susceptible a player is to abdominal injuries. How are these injuries treated? As is always prevention definitely trumps cure. Let’s say we just go out on court and start serving the booming Berrettini serves without even so much as a Brad Gilbert dressing room warm up, don’t we think we are playing right into an abdominal injury? Warming up the muscles is ever so important. One exercise that is often recommended and cheap are abdominal crunches but they put a strain on your back. So rather use ab wheel roll outs as can be seen below
Abdominal injury symptoms? One is shock, tenderness in the area and pain although a complete diagnosis is needed from an MRI to see the extent of the injury. Treatment of the injuries involve just a week or two’s rest for the less severe ones to managing internal bleeding for those life threatening ones. The later definitely needs a hospital to attend to it but for those lesser ones you could help by making the player feel as comfortable as possible by loosening the clothing and providing padding for the lower chest injuries.