With tennis courts opening for singles play, Alicia Hirscht, DPT, SCS, director of physical therapy at ONS Stamford, has put together this video demonstration of exercises to strengthen the main muscle groups required to play the sport and help prevent tennis-related injuries.
In Spring Training is Not Just for Pros, Tanya stresses the importance of building strength and flexibility before staring up seasonal activities to avoid many of the painful injuries that can crop up. In the March 16 issue, she writes:
If you’re like me, you’re chomping at the bit for spring to arrive so you can tie up your sport shoes and head out in the sun with your racquet or golf club in hand.
Not so fast!
If you haven’t been using the muscles necessary for your sport in the past few months, you’ll need to start slowly and make sure you have the strength and conditioning needed to play before the season is underway.
A simple pre-season program using light weights or an exercise band can help protect against back strain, arm pain and worse. Start with daily stretching exercises, held for a minute, and move on to two sets of weight bearing or resistance exercises of 15 repetitions three to four times a week.
AVOID GOLF AND TENNIS INJURIES
Common golf and tennis injuries are usually the result of muscle strain and fatigue, muscular imbalance, overuse, or any combination of the three. As with any physical activity, core muscle strengthening is essential to train your pelvis, lower back, hips and abs to work together to give you power, better balance and stability. Without core strength, the muscles in your back, neck and extremities will be strained taking you through your motions.
Beyond the core, your shoulders need to be ready for the demands of the repeated overhead, rotating motions required in tennis and golf. Conditioning that area is not only important to prevent tendinitis and rotator cuff problems, weakness in the joint’s surrounding muscles can also lead to pain elsewhere in your arm when smaller muscles are forced to overcompensate.
To avoid painful shoulder injuries, it’s important to strengthen the peri-scapular (shoulder blade) muscles as well as the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff helps stabilize the upper arm within the shoulder socket and manage the speed of your swing and follow through.
You can strengthen and increase flexibility in this region of your body by using light weights or an exercise band.
In general, exercises that involve the internal and external rotation of the shoulder are good for the rotator cuff. You can work on external rotation by alternating arms to rotate the band away from your body, starting with your arms waist level and forearms parallel to the floor.
For internal rotation exercise, tie your band to a door knob and hold it in one hand across your shoulder. Start with your arm bent at 90 degrees as though you are waving hello, and slowly stretch the band downward until your forearm is parallel to the ground. Slowly return to your starting position and switch arms.
It’s also important to keep your pectoral muscles and those in the back of your shoulder supple. A corner stretch is great for the pecs. Lean into a corner of a room with each of your forearms resting on the adjacent walls and hold the stretch.
Cross body stretches, achieved by moving your extended arm across your chest, will help prevent and reduce any tightness that may occur in the back of the shoulder.
These exercises will also help reduce the risk of elbow conditions such as tendinitis and golf and tennis elbow. Elbow injuries can occur because the wrist muscles, which originate in the wrist but attach at the elbow, become overused or lack proper strength to match the demand of each sport.
Exercises to help thwart this from happening involve wrist flexion and extension while holding a light weight. First, sit while you hold a weight, palm facing down. Raise the weight by pulling the hand upward, bending at the wrist. Next, rotate your arm so the palm of your hand is facing the ceiling and bend your wrist to move the weight upward.
Common sports-related lower extremity injuries, including calf strains and ankle sprains, can be avoided if the musculature is strong enough to support the acceleration and deceleration involved in walking, running and jumping. Ankles are particularly vulnerable to quick changes in direction. Single leg balance exercises are the best way to protect against ankle and calf issues. Try standing on one leg on a balance board, standing on one leg with your eyes closed, or standing on one leg on a pillow. Single leg heel lifts from the edge of a step, and slowly lowering the heels below the step are also good calf exercises.
When you do head out to the court or the greens, start slowly and be sure to warm up. Don’t play an 18-hole round of golf without a few days swinging at the driving range. Immediately before play, start with 5-10 min warm up with a light jog or walking briskly in place. When you finish for the day, cool down and gently stretch your muscles.
My last piece of advice is to have a professional evaluate your technique and equipment. An improper grip, ill-fitting racket or club, and/or faulty body mechanics can lead to an injury no matter how fit you are.
If you love racket sports, you might already know what it’s like to experience a rolled ankle or shoulder strain. Injury prevention is the key to staying in the game and ONS is here to help you keep your swing healthy! On Tuesday, May 13th at 6:30 p.m. in the Noble Conference Center at Greenwich Hospital, come hear sports medicine physician Gloria Cohen, MD, orthopedic surgeon Katie Vadasdi, MD, physical therapist Tatyana Kalyuzhny, PT, DPT, MDT and Patrick Hirscht, Tennis Pro, Round Hill Club in Greenwich discuss how to avoid the most common injuries in racket sports like Achilles tendon tears, shoulder and wrist injuries and rolled and sprained ankles. Learn to recognize injury warning signs and know when it’s time to see a doctor. The panel will discuss injury prevention and the latest orthopedic treatments.
Dr. Katie Vadasdi, head of the ONS Women’s Sports Medicine Center shares her medical expertise and experience in treating these types of injuries saying “racket sports can lead to overuse injuries due to the repetitive motions required in these sports. We most commonly see shoulder and elbow injuries including impingement of the rotator cuff and inflammation of the tendons in the elbow also known as tennis elbow. Early in the season, it is important to gradually increase intensity and duration of play to reduce the risk of developing such overuse injuries. If an athlete develops pain, it is important to rest in order to allow for appropriate recovery. This can often prevent the development of more serious injuries. If pain persists in spite of rest, then an athlete should reach out to a medical professional for further diagnosis and management options”.
Come to the seminar to learn more! Seminar is free. Registration requested.
For more information on shoulder injuries/surgery click here!
Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists, PC (ONS) physicians provide expertise in the full spectrum of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, sports medicine, minimally invasive orthopedic, spine and brain surgery, joint replacement and trauma. The main office is located at 6 Greenwich Office Park on Valley Road, Greenwich, CT. For more information, visit https://onsmd.com/ or call 203.869.1145.
Physical Therapist stresses strength building, flexibility and good mechanics
Along with the fun and friendly competition of a great game of tennis, comes the potential for tennis elbow, a degenerative condition of the tendon fibers which anchor the arm muscles used to extend or lift the wrist and hand. Those who suffer from tennis elbow will tell you that it can result in an abrupt end to your tennis season. Below, Tatyana Kalyuzhny, DPT, of ONS Physical Therapy offers the following precautions and tips on conditioning before you even make your first serve.
—Symptoms of tennis elbow often include persistent pain on the outside of the elbow. It usually begins with mild pain and can continue for weeks or months. The pain can be increased by pressing on the outside of the elbow or by a gripping or lifting motion. In severe cases, minimal movement of the elbow joint can send pain radiating into the forearm.
The first line of treatment for tennis elbow is usually rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. After an evaluation, a doctor may prescribe a physical therapy program to stretch and strengthen the muscles in forearm.
Players who lack proper conditioning are the ones who are most vulnerable to most injuries including tennis elbow. Even if you’re a great player with a beautiful swing, if you lack proper conditioning and core strength, you are putting your body at an increased risk for injury. Proper mechanics plays a crucial role in avoiding injuries. The slightest amount of improper alignment can place added stress on tendons and ligaments. You may not notice the ill effects initially, but damage may be cumulative and build to a problem over time.
Conditioning for tennis should include exercises in core and hip strength in multi-directional planes, exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and elbow and eccentric strengthening, which involves contracting the muscles while simultaneously elongating them to help the body absorb shock. In addition to strengthening, players need to maintain flexibility of their calves, hips and shoulders for proper mechanical efficiency.
A good warm-up for a tennis player should include light stretching followed by a gentle, five- to ten- minute rally session on court that employs some lateral and forward shuffles. Warm-up should be gradual and should aim to slowly increase your heart rate and get the muscles ready for play. You should avoid walking onto the court and swinging with full power at the ball.
Six tips for preventing injuries
- Use proper technique. Have your swing and overall technique evaluated periodically by a professional.
- Incorporate a proper strengthening and conditioning program off the court.
- Maintain flexibility by stretching after play.
- Use proper equipment. Play with a racket that is the correct size, grip and weight for you.
- Wear proper footwear designed for tennis and not worn out.
- Avoid making sudden radical changes in your technique unless instructed by a professional.