Gravity is the unseen, powerful force that is with us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, holding us on the planet Earth. As we become active on a flat surface, gravity is intensified, and joint and intervertebral spaces are compressed, creating pressure, wear on cartilage, bone lining and surrounding connective tissue.
Tennis is played on a variety of surfaces (grass, clay, blacktop, plastic or other synthetic materials) each having an impact on the human body. It is imperative to adopt common sense strategies and court specific practices which will provide the added protection and longevity to avoid the wear and tear that can be experienced with lack of pre and post self care.
We tend to get into habits that may affect us adversely over long periods of time. It is worth considering some useful and insightful tips on how to prevent injuries and trauma to the body while successfully enjoying the game. It is essential to stretch before and after playing. The ideal way is to gently warm up on the surface you’re playing, acclimating yourself to the particular surface medium. After the initial warm up you’re now ready to do simple stretches.
- Start with lunges to each side until you feel your thighs, (the largest muscle grouping in the body), are properly stretched and warm. Do this several times gently but firmly on each side.
- Then, move to stretch the Achilles tendon by stepping forward, then bending the forward leg, while keeping the back leg extended with the foot flat on the ground. Again, do this several times gently but firmly on each side, until properly stretched and warm.
- Now, stand up, feet facing forward, slightly apart and bend down from the hips, letting your head relax and releasing all tension, stretch down without bouncing. Raise up and repeat full movement several times.
- From there, stand up and stretch the upper body tall, raise both arms overhead and slowly bend to one side and then the other. Also do this movement several times.
- Stand tall again, raise arms straight out to each side, with the knees slightly bent, look and twist to the right as far as comfortable then to the left completing the rotation. Repeat several times.
Properly warming up the body and stretching allows for an easy and natural adjustment to the playing surface and the necessary focus for peak physical game intensity. After playing, cool down and stretch again pulling out any compression that may have gathered during the course of the game. This will create a gentle transition from the active dynamics of the game to the now more static state of functioning.
And finally, the shoes you wear should be comfortable, cushioned and supportive, they are, after all, the buffer between you and the surface of the court. Carefully select shoes that support you properly. You should have several pairs depending on the playing surfaces.
Following these simple strategies and incorporating others during pre and post game play will extend the life of your game!