Dr. Ruiz-Cotorro: Prevention must start much earlier
Dr. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, director of the Clínica Mapfre de Medicina del Tenis, is ready for the 2012 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, providing medical assistance for the players and tournament organizers during the ATP World Tour 500 Event. Before focusing on the medical help during the tournament, the renowned doctor underlines the importance of prevention for professional tennis players.
“The tennis player has finally understood that tennis is prevention. In the past years, they took their time to recover and for medical checks and tests during the six-week off-season. As players have less time today, the medical checks must be more rigorous, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, respiratory, etc.., so they are more protected during the competition,” explained Cotorro.
Ruiz-Cotorro stresses the importance of precaution. "The pathology of tennis is more micro traumatic than in other sports. The competition is demanding and players compete 25 to 30 weeks a year. Some of them during the entire week," said the doctor, who welcomes the fact that most players are conscious and care about their health and fitness.
Ruiz-Cotorro talks about the risk of playing on different surfaces, mentioning that “in the past it influenced the players more. However, players adapt better to the different surfaces today although the risk over overload is higher. Overload occurs if players don’t get a chance to rest or take a break.”
According to the doctor, “young players between 17 and 20 years face an even bigger risk of overload, playing qualifiers, futures and challengers.”
Ruiz-Cotorro says that tennis has changed: “The better equipment (balls, rackets and surfaces) make the game faster and more demanding for the player, which creates new pathologies that need to be controlled and prevented,” he explained.
“Tennis has developed faster than we thought. We have to realize that there are players who at 30 have already undergone a hip surgery, to name the injury that concerns us the most.”
Solutions? Dr. Ruiz-Cotorro says that prevention needs to be adapted at an earlier age: “We must start to work with tennis player earlier, with children from 5 to 15 years, to minimize the impact tennis has on their health and fitness when they are older,” he said, concluding that coaches, physiotherapists and doctors have to work together.