Stretching is an essential part of playing tennis. A good stretching routine can help to minimize muscle imbalances, prevent injury, improve your exercise tolerance and your tennis performance. The following stretching program is designed for tennis players who do not have any current injuries or individual stretching needs. If you have an injury, or a specific mechanical imbalance that may be holding back your tennis performance, your Staszak Physical Therapy & Wellness Center Physical Therapist can design a stretching program more specific for you.
When is the Best Time to Stretch?
When your muscles are warm and relaxed! For optimum performance you should stretch after you have done a general body warm-up of about 5-10 minutes (light running, or another light aerobic activity) You should also stretch after your match and between matches if you are playing in a tennis tournament. Tennis is a dynamic sport so you'll need both dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretches form part of your pre-match or training warm-up. They are used to prepare your muscles for the rapid elongation they will incur during the game. Static stretches, on the other hand, are more useful to improve your overall flexibility and are most effectively done at the end as part of your cool down.
Rules for Dynamic Stretching:
Rules for Static Stretching:
Essential Stretches for Tennis:
These muscles are your prime movers for tennis. You'll need to stretch these muscles each time you play. Don't forget to stretch both sides. The stretching program shown below will take about 15 minutes to complete.
Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Have you ever tried working out on your own and have found your motivation to get out to exercise decrease? Regular exercise provides individuals with numerous health benefits, including: reduced risk of developing health problems and diseases, increased energy levels, a heightened mood and even improved mental performance. Compared to exercising alone, group workouts are the best alternative that can boost your motivation as many people have noted.
Research has shown that community-based group workouts and physical therapist-administered group exercises dramatically improve balance and stability in older individuals in comparison to those who exercise alone at home or do not exercise regularly. Improved stability also greatly reduces the risk of falling in older persons. Falls are a major cause of injury, chronic pain, decreased mobility, morbidity, and mortality in individuals 65 years of age and older.
An added benefit of group exercise is that an instructor typically facilitates the class and this helps ensure that movements are being performed correctly. Group members can assist each other maintain proper posture and form which can help reduce the risk of injury.
Group-based exercise has also been shown to promote greater satisfaction and exercise discipline among group members. This is because instructors and group members taking the class tend to encourage each other to regularly attend the workouts and finish a session when fatigue begins to set in. Individuals who exercise alone have to motivate themselves to exercise regularly; therefore, they may be easily discouraged to continue exercising when they begin to feel tired, since there is no group encouragement.
Group-based workouts have even proven to be more effective than individual exercise at reducing chronic back pain, enhancing energy levels and mood, and improving mobility. Again, this appears to be due to the supervision that is provided by the instructor and other group members as well as the increased exercise adherence and program completion that is typically displayed amongst group members.
Moreover, people suffering from serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease have experienced health benefits from group workouts. These benefits include less fatigue and muscle stiffness as well as improved balance, mobility, and quality of life. Individuals with such diseases who exercise alone tend to experience lower levels of improvement.
by Doug Kelsey
It doesn’t matter how you try to stretch the Iliotibial Band (ITB), what technique you use, or how hard you try, you can’t stretch it. It’s tensile strength is thousands of pounds per square inch which, when you stop and think about it, makes sense. Why would you want your fascia to easily deform with something like stretching or some type of manual treatment when its job is to hold things together?
The frustration in dealing with an angry ITB is summed up well in this email I received from a reader.
"I stumbled upon your blog. Sitting here with a bag of frozen broccoli on an angry ITB. Ha. After a two year hiatus from running I have returned SLOWLY to walking, swimming and some running. My ITB flared up in the past and lay dormant all this time- waiting to reclaim its hold on any plans of race day glory. Im 37 years old and feel like the clock is ticking too fast.
I consider myself an expert on the vast blogs and internet approaches to treating ITB. I have done every “ITB…marathon training..physical therapy… running” web search. I have read it all!. You are one of the FEW people I have read that touts the impracticality of stretching a brick. Your argument made a lot of sense.
Want to get back in shape or get in better shape? Having problems with injuries or pain when working out? We can help.
A specialty of ours is working with people who want to do strength or endurance training while avoiding injury and/or getting back into an exercise routine post injury. Is it important for runners or cyclists to have a strong core? Is it important for people who lift weights to maintain good posture? The answer to both of these is definitely yes.
By Patricia Staszak, PT
Proper bike fit and riding position can go a long way in ensuring glorious riding comfort for miles to come. But that doesn’t mean you should hop on your bike and put in 50 miles the first day. Like all activities, you need to give your body a chance to adjust to new physical demands. And you also need to be mindful of your form and positioning on the bike to avoid overuse injuries.
In general, you can avoid overuse injuries the way all athletes do -- by staying strong and flexible and using good mechanics. Good core strength will support your body while you’re on the bike and will assist in absorbing shock from bumps in the road.
Let’s cover some specific common overuse injuries and, more importantly, how to avoid them. As always, if you feel pain beyond the pleasant fatigue of a good workout, especially in a joint, you need to stop that activity and figure out what’s causing the pain. Often a small adjustment in your bike fit or your riding form will help. If your discomfort continues, give us a call for an assessment on your riding form and body mechanics.
1. Achilles tendon pain can develop if your toes are pointed downward while pedaling, which causes the overuse of calf muscles and those supporting tendons. Keep your heels down through the entire pedal stroke.
2. Metatarsalgia (pain at ball of foot) occurs because the force from pushing your foot on the pedal is absorbed in just the front of the shoe instead of the whole shoe. Riding in soft shoes such as a running shoe is often the culprit here. A stiff cycling shoe can usually help. Shoes that are too tight also can cause compression at the ball of the foot and will sometimes cause numbness.
3. Anterior knee pain usually means compression at the patellofemoral joint, which could be an indication that your seat is too low or too far forward. This is another instance where a bike fit professional or physical therapist can help.
4. Patellar tendonitis can result from pedaling in too high of a gear (i.e., you’re pushing really hard instead of spinning) or riding hills. Not pedaling through the full 360 degrees can also cause overuse and pain at the patellar tendon, because your quadriceps are working more than the hamstrings.
5. Posterior knee pain, or pain at the back of the knee, hamstrings or upper calf muscles can result from the seat being too high.
6. Iliotibial band pain (lateral knee or thigh) can be caused by excessive toeing in or pronation, which results in the knee moving in and out.
7. Low back and neck pain are often related to poor posture on the bike. Low back pain may occur because of excessive rounding at the low back. Riders tend to round because of an uncomfortable saddle that causes them to tuck their pelvis under instead of having the pelvis tilted forward; tight low back or hamstring muscles can also cause this. If your seat makes you sore or numb, try one with a center cut out to unload the pubic area.
8. Shoulder and wrist pain can be caused by a seat that is tilted down at the front, because you’re slipping forward and putting more weight through the hands and arms. Neck, shoulder, and wrist pain can also be caused by a variety of cockpit issues -- handlebars that are too high or too low, a stem that is too long or too short or uneven brake hoods.
All that said; don’t let these potential issues scare you away from riding! The weather is perfect, biking is a wonderful form of exercise, and, with the proper fit and overall mindfulness when you ride, you’ll enjoy many miles on your bike. If you would like us to take a look at your riding position or even help you pick the best bike for you, we’re here to help.
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