Stay On The Courts For A Lifetime!

Tennis and Back Fitness

Tennis, like golf, is an activity that requires a lot of twisting of the spine which is where the joints and discs are most vulnerable. It is because of this that we need to take extra care when putting together a fitness and care regimen that will keep up on the court for a lifetime. Tennis is another one of those games that you can play your entire life and unlike golf it is cheap to get outfitted and on the courts. Also, tennis is a game that easily adapts to indoor play unlike golf.

There are some important warm up considerations when it comes to a sport like tennis, this is a whole body exercise so we need to make sure we pay attention to our major areas like legs, back, core, but also some of the smaller joints of the ankles, elbows and wrists. When it comes to pre-exercise routines

I favor ballistic type movements over static stretching. My reasoning is this, if you do static stretching prior to an activity such as tennis you will be allowing your joints to go through a fuller range of motion. But that sounds good, right? Well yes and no. There is a possibility that when you loosen up the joints and then put a lot of stress on them you can bring that joint past its healthy, natural range of motion and suffer an injury. It is my opinion that a little bit of tension in the joint adds some protection when we are putting maximum stress on them.

Here is a list of movements that I prefer for a pre-tennis routine:

  • Treadmill/Rower/bike (assault bike style with arm handles that move): with these movements we are activating our upper and lower body at the same time, get blood flowing and warming up the muscles. These types of activities are especially important if you are playing in a tournament when you may be sitting around for a while between matches.
  • Squats/Lunges: Your gluts and quads are some of the biggest muscles in your body and you are going to be using them a lot during tennis. These are also great movements to get those hips moving.
  • Jumping Jacks: If you do not have access to a treadmill, rower or bike, jumping jacks are a great alternative. With this activity we are getting our shoulders and legs moving and the blood pumping.
  • Ankle Rotations: simply put you are pointing you toe to the ground and making circular motions with your ankle.
  • Shoulder Mobility: Rotations in a circular motion forward and back as well as across your chest and opening wide.
  • Wrist Mobility: Now here is where I deviate a little from my “no stretching prior” routine. Along with wrist rotations I will also do some wrist flexion and extension stretches. I will exert enough pressure in either movement to feel a stretch, then hold for 15 seconds, I will then briefly contract that muscle, then stretch a little deeper and do that tree times.

Wrist mobility as always been a big thing for me with tennis and golf. I played a lot of tennis and baseball when I was growing up and suffered with “tennis elbow” for years. MRI was around then, but not widely used so I was close to having surgery when I mentioned to my chiropractor that I was having some elbow issues and might need surgery. She did an evaluation of the mound of scar tissue in my forearm and suggested cross-fiber soft tissue mobilization and ice massage. It worked! Never needed surgery and whenever those old patterns arise, I know how to treat them.

Chiropractic is about more than just your spine and nervous system. One of the many things that sets us apart from other chiropractic offices is our approach to chiropractic and mobility. Whether it is your low back or your shoulder we can tailor a plan to get you back on, and keep you on, the courts for a lifetime.

-Dr. Kevin

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