Table tennis is a fairly safe sport, especially when compared to things like football, tennis, running, cycling, etc. However, injuries can still happen, particularly when participating in international competitions that push you way beyond your limits.
Is table tennis bad for knees? Not necessarily. You’re more likely to injure your ankles or elbows than your knees. Nevertheless, you can expose yourself to knee injuries if you don’t know the proper footwork in table tennis.
What Is the Correct Stance for Table Tennis?
If you’ve played table tennis before, you must’ve noticed that proper footwork is key for efficient playing.
The basic ready stance depends on two factors: your feet and your knees.
You must have your feet positioned slightly wider than your shoulders. If you place them closer to each other, you’ll have to take big steps to move from one side to another. Such movement will put too much force on your knees, increasing the risk of injury.
Your knees must be slightly bent to position your center of gravity closer to the ground. Such an angle will also facilitate the in-and-out movement, which is particularly important when trying to return a short serve.
Theoretically, if you maintain this ideal stance through the game, your knees should be able to carry through without experiencing pain or injuries.
Ways to Minimize Knee Pain and Injuries in Table Tennis
Although knee injuries aren’t common in table tennis, you can take some precautions to minimize the risk as much as possible.
Warm Up Well Before Playing
Warming up is crucial before any exercise involving vigorous movement, not just table tennis. These low-impact exercises rev up your heart rate, promoting better circulation to your muscles, thereby allowing them to contract more efficiently.
Warming up also induces your joints to release more synovial fluid, which is the lubricant that allows your bones to slide smoothly against each other.
You can perform lots of different movements to warm up each muscle in your body, but you need to focus on your quads and hamstrings if you want to keep knee injuries at bay.
Wear a Knee Strap
There’s a small bone sitting in front of your knees, known as the patella. Ideally, this bone should move smoothly over your femur (thigh bone).
But after constant high-impact movement, the muscles and ligaments surrounding this bone might become weaker, which can force the patella into colliding with the femur, causing pain and irritation.
Wearing a knee strap right below your patella will ensure that it stays in the ideal position while you play, relieving some stress off your tendons and ligaments.
Apply Ice to Painful Areas
After finishing a tough training day, it’s normal to experience minor joint and muscle pain, especially if you don’t usually train that hard. That pain arises from the accumulation of lactic acid and metabolic byproducts in your muscles.
To ease that pain, you should take a cold bath right after you finish training. If you’re not a fan of cold water, you can suffice by applying ice packs on the areas that hurt you most.
Incorporate Resistance Training Into Your Workout
Practicing table tennis is indeed essential to get better at serves, strokes, returns, etc. But you should also diversify your training routine by lifting weights.
Lifting weights will not only make your muscles stronger, but it’ll also increase your bone density, which will further decrease the risk of injuries.
Here are the best knee strengthening exercises that everyone can perform.
- Straight leg lifts
- Side leg lifts
- Calf raises
Will I Bulk Up if I Lift Weights?
Not necessarily. Lifting weights will tone your muscles and increase your strength. Males may bulk up after committing to a healthy diet and lifting extreme weights for a long time. On the contrary, it’s almost impossible for women to bulk up, simply because they lack testosterone.
Knees are the last joints you should worry about while practicing table tennis, provided that you maintain ideal form.
If you encounter a knee injury while playing, stop immediately, and head to your physician. Ignoring the pain will worsen the symptoms and increase the risk of long-term complications.