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Part 1 – General information about injury in table tennis

Common Table Tennis Injuries & How To Prevent.

Part 1 – General information about injury in table tennis.

This is the research of table tennis injury, including 4 parts.

What are the most common injuries and pains in table tennis? Players often suffer from upper extremities pain such as wrist, elbow, ankle and shoulder joints. Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of common table tennis injuries are very important for your safety. Physicians and doctors can provide informed advice and treatment recommendations, but you should read this article to prevent unnecessary injuries.

Is table tennis safe?

Table tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world. This sport is suitable for all ages and all levels: From 7 years old to 77 years old. So in general, table tennis is safe! Much safer than football, tennis, badminton, etc.

10 health benefits of playing table tennis
10 health benefits of playing table tennis

However, at a high level,  physical demands for the top athlete are known to expose to various musculoskeletal injuries (mostly soft tissue problems). These problems are usually a result of overuse of some specific muscle groups. With the bigger ball (new trends), many top players suffer from the injury problem.

Table tennis is safe, but muscle strain and soft tissue injuries are a huge problem!

At the amateur level, injuries are also common. Personally, I know many beginners (junior and senior) suffers from small injuries. Incidence of injuries varies with age, gender and level of experience(beginners, intermediate, advanced level).


Table tennis is a safe sport - But soft tissu injury is common at high level athlete
Table tennis is a safe sport – But soft tissue injury is common at a high-level athlete

There are in general 5 types of injuries in table tennis, which are presented below.

Watch the part 1 video:

Common table tennis Injury & how to prevent (Part 1)

Watch this video.



Why do we feel pain after long training?

Many players asked me this question. Something like:

Dear coach ERT. I feel pain in my wrist after training backhand topspin for long, is this normal?

I coach young players (around 12 years old – 18 years old), and veteran players (over 50 years old). So I understand well how often my players get these types of injuries.

In general, there are 3 main reasons that you feel pain in table tennis:

  1. Bad habit – Bad stroke mechanism
  2. Hit too hard, overused, and repetitive motion tension
  3. Not warm up correctly

Bad habits and bad stroke mechanisms happen to new players. They just stand up too straight and use only one muscle group. They forget to use the whole body in the stroke. For beginners, the most common injury is a shoulder injury. They use only the arm, shoulder during the topspin strokes.


Chen Meng was very hurted due to the ankle injury
Chen Meng was very hurt due to an ankle injury (ITTF)

While young players often hit too hard. During the training, they want to finish the point too soon. They often get the “overused muscle” problem. Normally, young players got pain in the wrist, the back, and sometimes the elbow.

Veteran players are slow to warm up. They often forget to do the proper warm-up, so not enough “liquid” for the joint. Senior players often suffer from Arthralgia (Arthralgia literally means joint pain). Arthralgia (from Greek “arthro” is joint, and “algos” is a pain) literally means joint pain. Older players often get ankle injuries, knee injuries. They don’t have good footwork and don’t know how to move. To deal with this, veteran players should do the stretching exercises, warm up correctly. At least 10 minutes before the real training.

What to do when you feel pain?

What to do when you feel pain? Should you continue or stop?

When you contract your muscles repeatedly, they begin to feel tired, sore. It’s normal. But if the pain does not go away or the ache is very strong. You should stop.

Do you know that Ma Long has knee injuries for more than 6 months? He needs to stop all of the competition before an impressive comeback this year. Pain is the signal from your body that says “Slow down. I can’t support”.


Ma Long serious knee problem
Ma Long serious knee problem


Top table tennis players suffer more and more injury. It could be due to the larger ball, heavier ball so it requires more physical demand. Zeio (on TTD) has posted a meme post for this:


Meme post about injury of Ma Long by zeio
Meme post about injury of Ma Long by zeio

You could hear the “tennis elbow” term. In table tennis, there is also the tension of the triceps tendons, repetitive motion tension fatigue, ankle, and knee pain, etc. I recommend you to stop, and go to see a doctor. Any pain needs to be treated to avoid a more serious problem in the future.

Short periods of intensive training produce weak patterns of movement faster than anything else. Once an inappropriate movement pattern is established, it is almost impossible to correct it in a normal person, let alone a well-adjusted athlete. Liu Guoliang has to do the shoulder-operation, due to his bad gesture during many years with short pimple attacks. Tiger Woods damaged his body and he has never been the same since. Larry Bird had to retire because of the bad mechanics of the body to run on the basketball court.

So take your time! Learn and correct yourself with the help of a coach, an expert before it is too late!


Ma Long lost again (due to injury) Chinese National Games 2017

Watch this video.


Another tip for you that helps you prevent injury when getting older: Choose lighter racket.


Choose Heavy or Light Racket in Table Tennis
Choose Heavy or Light Racket in Table Tennis

You may want to consider using a lighter paddle to reduce stress on your damaged tendon. Light racket Around 150g can help you reduce the shoulder and wrist strain. Be sure to give a few weeks to get used to the new weight. At first, you may hate the feel of the light palette. A few weeks later, you will love the new speed and lack of fatigue. Using a lighter racket can help you recover faster too!


Read the part 2 here.

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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