Inside the life of a Great Britain International and WTA tennis player, by Anna Popescu
8 Mar 2021
On International Women's Day 2021 we are delighted to share our latest blog, written by Great Britain International and WTA tour tennis player Anna Popescu. Anna travels the world representing the nation at the highest level of her sport, and has been working with Colin for nearly a year to maintain her fitness and manage any issues via regular screening.
Here Anna talks us through life on the tennis circuit in the time of a global pandemic, and how that has affected her personally and professionally.
I first came to the Lewin Clinic back at the end of Lockdown 1.0. Lockdown was challenging for everyone in lots of different ways, but I think one of the hardest things for me was going two to three months without seeing a physio. You can imagine my relief back at the start of June when I found an open physio that I could access, fortunately I struck gold because the Lewin Clinic is right at the top of Sports Performance Physio.
I had a big injury when I was 15 (a pubic ramus avulsion) and some smaller injuries followed that, so it took me a couple of years to get fit again. In that time especially, I really came to see the benefit of regular physio and support to help keep the body fit, and for me as a tennis player, to keep me on the court.
During this injury period, I had many moments where I wasn't sure if I'd get back on the court fully and be able to compete again, and I think my coaches had the same doubts. Throughout this period, it was both physios and my fitness trainer who really got me through it, both physically and mentally. I was lucky enough to work on my pubic ramus avulsion with Andy Rolls, a football physio, who at the time was at West Ham and then moved to Arsenal and worked alongside Colin shortly after. So I had heard glowing reviews about Colin many a time.
As I mentioned, I first came to the Lewin Clinic back in June, at the end of the first lockdown. After a tricky period of training a bit at home but not really playing tennis or training satisfactorily, it was great to access the expertise of Colin and Gary in how to gradually return to play, with recovery times and load management. They are both a goldmine of information. Quite honestly it made me realise that had I had access to their knowledge and experience from a younger age, I would probably have avoided a lot of injuries. But I'm an Arsenal fan, so I'm equally glad they were busy keeping the Arsenal team fit, and also there's no time for regrets in life!
In the short time that I have been seeing Colin for both treatment and screening, we've already managed to identify some problem areas and work on mobilising and strengthening them to reduce the possibility of a time-loss injury. I've seen a big improvement in my left groin for example where I was picking up continuous niggly soreness, which was - at times - causing me to rest for a few days. Colin identified a strength deficiency and added some exercises into my regular strength routines and I haven't had that soreness since. It's like sorcery!
I probably do about four hours a day of off court work - fitness, strength, stretching, rolling, prehab, rehab and physio. It can vary a bit day on day, but I spend more time doing work to play tennis than I actually do playing games! It’s certainly a big change from when I was young, prevention is the best form of injury management!
The global tennis tour has largely resumed (albeit on a slightly restricted scale) so I am back travelling and competing. It hasn't changed too dramatically since covid-19; the main changes are the introduction of masks off-court and not shaking opponents’ or umpires’ hands, as well as pretty frequent testing and a lot of form filling out. Nonetheless, it's been great to get back on the road and I continue to complete my strength programme regularly to try to keep on top of my fitness and keep the injuries at bay.
At the moment, most tournaments won't accept players travelling into the tournament from the UK, due to the restrictions around covid-19. Because of that I’m based in Tunisia at the moment, and will remain in Europe to ease travelling in and out of tournaments. It’s a bit frustrating being based remotely, and means that I won't have the possibility of travelling home until April or May at the earliest.
Fortunately I have kept up with seeing a physio regularly whether at my training base or at tournaments as this is something that is a non-negiotable part of my training routine. But I am looking forward to when I return to the UK and can catch up with everyone at the Lewin Clinic (as well as my family of course!!)