Tennis is an athletic, multi-directional sport that can be continued throughout the lifespan and well into adulthood. Here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it's also a sport that can be continued all year round with multiple options for indoor tennis playing as the weather dips. Year-round exercise is always a good thing, but it's important to be prepared in order to avoid injuries, especially from overuse.
Tennis is a repetitive sport that requires quick footwork, quick reaction time, and strength. Below are some tips to stay healthy all year-round and enjoy this wonderful sport.
1. Warm Up!
A warm up is crucial to avoid costly injuries and perform at your best. Try to get to the court a bit early to warm up. Not only is warming up important in itself, but it also matters HOW you warm up. It is recommended to perform a dynamic warm of movements similar to the activity you will be doing, for at least 5-10 minutes up to 15 minutes before your start the activity. Don't know what is an optimal dynamic warm up for tennis or your sport of choice? Ask your Physical Therapist to help create one for you. A great time to do this is during your annual Physical Therapy exam. Which leads us to our next tip...
2. Get an annual Physical Therapy Exam
You have your yearly physical, dental appointment, etc. Consider adding in a yearly Physical Therapy exam. Let your Physical Therapist know what sports you enjoy, if you have had any injuries in the past, and your PT will perform a comprehensive exam to determine if there are areas to work on to avoid an injury down the road and you will be given a plan to address those areas. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
3. Move in Other Ways
Tennis is a very dynamic sport but as mentioned, can lead to overuse injuries when not combined with other different types of exercise. Crossing training is a great way to keep the body in tip top shape, and counteract some of the common weaknesses tennis playing can cause, such as an imbalance of strength between chest and back muscles. A good postural muscle strengthening program can help balance the body back out. Other great ideas are yoga and Pilates to build strength and flexibility, or even swimming for low impact endurance and cardiovascular training.
4. Cool Down
Hang out an extra couple minutes after playing to properly cool down the body. Cool down by bringing the heart rate slowly back down to baseline but avoid stopping activity completely. Walk a couple laps around the court and finish with some good stretches to further cool down the muscles and let them relax. Don't know what stretches are beneficial? Ask your Physical Therapist for stretches recommended for you.
5. Get your Racket Set Up for You
Make sure the grip is the right size for your hand and that the length of the racket is correct for your body height and arm length. Make sure you racket is strung properly, and get it checked often. Playing with a racket not sized correctly can lead to your body compensating, using poor mechanics, and can lead to an injury.
Already experiencing an injury affecting your tennis game? Contact us today and schedule a Physical Therapy evaluation to receive a full assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan for your specific injury.