The dynamic and forceful twists and turns of tennis unfortunately can lead to many risks of injury. Knees, lower back and shoulders are most prone to muscle strains for tennis players. Keeping an eye on proper form can greatly reduce problems in these areas. Understanding the causes of this can help develop strategies to improve functional movements that help reduce painful injuries and keep you on the court!
If you’re having pain in your shoulders, the problem might actually originate with your hips. The legs pivot in the hip sockets, allowing the spine and shoulders to rotate and the arms to swing during the back-swing and the follow-through. For a more powerful hit, tennis players often jump during the swing, which intensifies the stress on the body. Ample ability to rotate the hips is fundamental to proper form for many tennis moves. If the hips are overly tight and not freely moving in full range of motion, other areas of the body compensate in ways that weren’t designed for them to do so. For example, the knees, the lower back and the shoulders aren’t able to rotate in the way the hips are, so if the hips are restricted, extra stress is placed on theses areas that weren’t designed for this type of movement.
Check it Out
There are a couple of tests that can be done to check for hip tightness. Laying on your back with straight legs about 20 inches apart, try turning both legs inward so the feet move toward each other. If one leg cannot turn in as far as the other leg or if both sides aren’t able to rotate in about 40 degrees, your internal hip rotation is restricted. Now turn both legs outward so the feet move away from each other. See how far the legs can turn away from each other. Remember not to cheat by bending the knees or lifting the pelvis! Both legs should be able to turn out about 45 degrees to indicate adequate external rotation. If you find that you do have tightness, having your massage therapist focus on larger areas and entire muscle groups such as the glutes (buttocks) and adductors (inner thighs) can help your ability to stretch those areas to increase flexibility and regain ideal range of motion in the hip area. As muscle tension is released and adhesions that have developed are broken down, the normal rotational ability of the hip complex will flourish!
Release & Stretch
Once the muscles have been restored through myofascial release massage techniques, start introducing stretching exercises to the muscles of the glutes, abductors, adductors, flexors and hip rotators. Make sure to incorporate tennis specific moves. If your massage therapist specializes in sports massage, they should be able to incorporate some of these stretches in your massage session and you will be able to mentally take notes to do your “homework” the rest of the week.
Get on the Ball!
If you consistently release and stretch your hip muscles you will find that you have more range of motion and a better ability to properly rotate during your tennis moves, which will give you more power and less injuries. Which will put you on the top of your game!
We are located inside the beautiful San Diego Tennis and Racquet Club.