Tennis requires you to twist, turn and run in multiple directions. It’s great for you, and by taking proper precautions, you can minimize your risk of tennis-related injuries.
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“Playing tennis on a regular basis is good for your body and mind,” says Dace Zemzars, ATC, PTA, of Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Center. “It’s a fun and challenging sport that burns calories, reduces blood pressure, releases stress and offers camaraderie with fellow players. Tennis, like all exercise, lowers your overall risk of developing heart disease. It offers the whole package,” she says.
To enjoy these benefits and reduce your chance of injury, Ms. Zemzars suggests the following:
1. Build strength
Before tennis season, work on a strengthening program to help you hit with more control and minimize undue stress to your muscles and tendons. This is one way to reduce the risk of shoulder and tennis elbow injuries.
Don’t forget about strengthening your core and legs. In general, you should practice moderation by gradually increasing your activity level over a period of several weeks.
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Focus on strengthening your upper back, shoulder, elbow, forearm and wrist. To work on your rotator cuff:
- Lie on your side with your top arm resting on a towel roll to keep it away from your side. Keep your elbow bent at a ninety degree angle.
- Start with your hand close to your stomach. Slowly rotate your forearm up then slowly lower your forearm back to the start position.
- Repeat this motion. You should feel a mild fatigue in the shoulder.
- Start with two sets of ten and progress to three sets as fatigue lessens.
- Isolate different muscles for each joint and work up to performing diagonal motions that work all the joints together as you would in a groundstroke type motion.
“I also recommend agility training to improve the footwork required for change of direction and short sprints. Tennis involves a lot of lateral movement so working on drills that incorporate this type of movement is important,” Ms. Zemzars says.
2. Focus on your form
Form is often an overlooked aspect in tennis. “You can benefit from reviewing your technique with a tennis pro to help ensure that you are using the proper biomechanics when you play,” Ms. Zemzars says. She says in the heat of play, you want proper form to be automatic, which happens with repeated practice.
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3. Do targeted warm-ups
Performing an active warm-up prepares the body for the movements needed during tennis. This type of warm-up can be performed on the court prior to playing.
- Jogging forward and back between the baseline and the service line
- Side shuffling along the baseline
- Diagonal arm motions that simulate stroke motions and arm circles warm up the upper body