Tennis, one of the most played sports in the world, is a sport for a lifetime.
Because tennis places an emphasis on rotational strength, quick side-to-side movements and shoulder stability, both upper and lower body muscles need to be strong and flexible. A tennis training workout off court will focus on the physical components required to increase your endurance, agility, speed and balance, as well as strengthen the power of your shots and help prevent injuries from the repetitive stress on certain joints.
Most tennis injuries occur from incorrect form and poor conditioning. Here are a few spots that are prone to trouble.
ELBOWS: Tennis elbow is caused by overuse and muscle strain from repetitive motions of the arm and wrist and from using poor form when hitting the ball. Repeated use of the backhand stroke when using poor technique is another possible cause. Also, when shoulders are tight there is a tendency to overcompensate with the arms, which can lead to elbow issues.
SHOULDERS: The rotator cuff muscle group is very involved in all racquet sports. It helps to position the shoulder properly in the shoulder socket. When it is weak, the tendon or bursa can become inflamed.
LOWER BACK: The lower back, which is part of the core muscle group, is on the receiving end of quite a bit of strain from all the repetitive twisting movements. Obliques and the lower back are in constant motion when hitting the three basic tennis strokes: the serve, forehand and backhand.
LEGS: An abrupt and sudden change in direction in a de-conditioned player can put too much stress on the calf muscle, causing a tear of the tendon and calf muscle. This is known as tennis leg.
How to prevent injuries
SHOES: Wear tennis shoes that have good support to help prevent ankle injuries, as well as tennis socks, which have extra padding.
RACQUET: Be sure your racquet has the correct grip size for you and check out string tension with a tennis pro to reduce stress on your elbows and shoulders.
WARMUP: Rev up your circulation with five to 10 minutes of cardio movement.
FLEXIBILITY: It’s important to work on this. Lack of flexibility can limit all your movements on the court. It can also lead to severe knee and back pain. Always include stretching in your workout.
KNEES: To protect your back when playing, be sure to bend your knees.
CORE: Strengthening your core muscles will strengthen the muscles around the spine and decrease your risk of lower back pain or injury.
Your Move | Demonstrated by Brian Sampson
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Biceps curl with curtsy lunge: Strengthens the front of your upper arms and your lower body.
Contract your abdominals and stand tall with your feet together.
Hold a 5- to 10-pound weight in each hand at your sides, palms facing in.
Step your right foot diagonally behind you while bending both knees, as if you are doing a curtsy.
As you bend your knees, simultaneously turn your palms facing forward and curl the weights toward your shoulders in a biceps curl. Avoid rolling your wrists inward.
Without moving your upper arms, lower the weights slowly as you press into your front foot and return to a standing position.
Repeat eight to 10 times per side.
Triceps extension with forward lunge: Strengthens the back of your upper arms and your lower body.
Stand tall, feet shoulder-width apart, abdominals contracted, with your head and neck aligned with your spine.
Holding a single weight with both hands, extend your arms overhead.
Keeping your back straight, bend your knees and take a big step forward into a lunge position while lowering the weight behind your head by bending your arms at the elbows.
Straighten your elbows as you return to standing.
Repeat eight to 10 times on one side, then switch sides and repeat with opposite foot stepping forward into a lunge.
Lateral raise with a side lunge: Strengthens the shoulders and lower body.
Standing tall, feet shoulder-width apart, hold a weight in each hand at your sides, palms facing in and abdominals contracted.
Take a big step to the right into a side lunge position while slowly lifting your right arm to shoulder height, parallel to the floor with a slight bend of the elbow, palm facing down.
Pause, then slowly lower your arm as you return to the standing position.
Do eight to 10 repetitions, then switch to a left side lunge, repeating the pattern eight to 10 times.
Tip: Do not use a heavy weight.
Forearm plank: Strengthens entire body.
Lying on your stomach, place your forearms on the floor, elbows under shoulders.
Contract your abdominals and extend your legs with your toes underneath.
Lift your torso off the floor without arching your back or letting it sag. Your body will be in alignment from head to toe.
Hold this position for 10 seconds, building to 60 seconds for three planks.
Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can’t respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.