With the weather getting warmer and tennis courts reopening again, it is the perfect time to get back into tennis. Tennis is a physically taxing sport that can place heavy demands on your body, and injuries can occur at all skill levels regardless of whether you are a beginner or seasoned player. The good news is that with proper knowledge, preparation and technique, you can greatly decrease your predisposition to injury.
1. Increase intensity gradually
If you are transitioning from couch to court without proper preparation, your body has to work extra hard to adjust to an intensive game of tennis. Doing too much too quickly puts stress on the bone as the muscles tire quickly, leading to stress fractures and muscle strains. Slowly build your way up and remember to take breaks in between sets to prevent overexertion!
2. Proper warm-up and cool down
Having a proper warm-up is essential to physically prepare the body. Exercises you could include in your routine are dynamic stretches of the shoulders, trunk and legs, shadowing tennis strokes, and tennis-specific drills to get the heart rate going.
A cool down is just as important but often underestimated when it comes to tennis training. It gives time for your heart rate to gradually return to normal as well as prevent blood pooling in the legs. Depending on how vigorous your tennis game was, a cool down can last between 10-30 minutes and should include getting hydrated, light jogging and stretching exercises.
3. Conditioning your body
Undertake training exercises that are specific to the physical demands of tennis in order to bulletproof your body for the game.
Strengthening key movers such as your shoulders, forearms, core, and thighs will not only give you more power in your strokes, help you move faster, but also lessen the impact of the game on your joints.
To land well in tennis include balance training in your exercise plan. Single leg stands with eyes open or closed on stable or uneven surfaces are simple and effective ways to train ankle proprioception.
Footwork is fundamental in tennis to get behind a shot. Performing drills that include changes in direction and reaction time can help improve agility.
Lastly, cardiovascular fitness is what will sustain you if the game goes into multiple deuces. Going on a hike, swim or bike ride that lasts > 30 minutes will help form that solid base.
4. Use proper equipment
Using the right equipment can decrease your chances of injury. Check the condition of your tennis racquet. Has the overgrip worn out or has it been a few years since you’ve last restrung? Having the appropriate grip size and string tension can minimize the stress placed on your shoulder and elbow. Make sure your shoes are the right size and fit to prevent tennis toe or ankle injuries while you sprint to make that winning shot.
5. Pay attention to your technique
Executing the same movement repeatedly with poor technique can limit the efficiency of your game and contribute to injury. Consider working with a qualified instructor or physiotherapist to help improve your technique and maximize your performance.
If you are experiencing nagging injuries that are preventing you from enjoying the game of tennis, come in to see one of our experienced physiotherapists at PhysioCentral to get checked out. We will work to get you back on the court as soon as possible!
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