You can play tennis with degenerative disc disease (DDD). This is completely safe and as long as symptoms don’t get aggravated you are clear to play.

DDD is arthritis of the spine. Some people will experience pain with this, and others will not. It is completely dependent on the person. 

The good news is that usually if you have arthritis, warming up the joints tends to make them feel better, meaning tennis would likely make the stiffness and achiness of your low back feel better versus worse. 

If you’re curious about how to prevent DDD from getting worse, you can read this article that I wrote. It’s been helpful to a lot of people so I hope it helps you, too!

If you’re looking for specific exercises to try out that might be helpful in reducing symptoms, check out this article I wrote.

You can also check out this video I made about degenerative disc disease, as well.

Is Tennis Safe For Your Back?

tennis safe for back pain
Is Tennis Safe For Low Back Pain?

Like with any sport, there are risks associated. The good news is that back pain is no more prevalent in tennis players than it is in other sports such as golf, baseball, football, soccer, and swimming. 

If you warm up well, participate in a strength training and mobility routine, and aren’t a weekend warrior, tennis is very safe for your back and should be encouraged as a way to improve your overall health and fitness levels.

The reason being a weekend warrior is not ideal is that oftentimes, and I see this in my practice, people go out and play hard on the weekend without training for this during the week. The muscle, joint, ligament and tendon tissues are not accustomed to this as they haven’t been trained so then there is a higher risk of pain and injury. 

Can you play tennis if you have spinal stenosis?

You can play tennis if you have spinal stenosis. What’s most important to watch is what your symptoms are. Interestingly enough some people have slim to no symptoms even though their x-ray and MRI show severe spinal stenosis. 

Others only have pain when they extend to far, while some have pain when they bend forward too far. In any case, a diagnosis doesn’t mean much without knowing what your symptoms are and how they respond to a match and game of tennis. 

The best thing you can do for yourself if you do have stenosis is to track your pain levels and see if they increase or decrease when playing tennis.

If they increase, then I would recommend contacting a physical therapist you trust to see if they can help you improve your available range of motion, work on improving strength as needed, and see if they’re able to help you with some of the symptoms that you’re having so you can stay on the tennis court. 

Can you play tennis after a herniated disc?

You absolutely can. 

Herniated discs can heal spontaneously without surgery and other times a surgical procedure is required. In any case, regardless of whether you have disc bulges, a herniation, or some other spinal condition, the most important thing to remember is that treatment is going to be determined by symptoms, not diagnosis. 

If you find that you have minimal to moderate symptoms that do not get worse from playing tennis, it’s likely okay to continue playing tennis. Of course, consult your doctor and physical therapist on this as I can’t evaluate you telepathically through this blog post. 

Is Degenerative Disc Disease Common Among Athletes?

The rate of symptomatic DDD among athletes is likely quite small as athletes joints are well adapated, usually, to the forces that are required to sustain gameplay.

The rate of DDD is likely no higher than that of the general population.

If you’re having low back pain with tennis, sometimes a good walking program is something that can help. I go into detail of whether walking is good for degenerative disc disease in this article.

Got Questions?

What questions do you have about tennis and back pain that I didn’t answer? Please submit a question below!