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How to Avoid Injuries While Playing Tennis

Tennis season is here!

Tennis is a dynamic sport that places demands on most of the major muscle groups in the body. A typical point in tennis lasts approximately 10 seconds, with 20 to 30 seconds of rest between points. While this work-to-rest ratio places greater energy demands on the aerobic system, which is also taxed since most matches extend beyond 1 hour. As the game progresses, players normally sprint, lunge, and reach for shots, performing moves that require flexibility and strength. During a typical point in tennis, there may be as many as four to five directional changes, so balance and agility also become key factors.

If you're into tennis but haven't done any preconditioning before you play your first match, you could be in for some disappointing performances, not to mention injuries. If you follow an effective training program, however, you can expect improved technique and power, making you a better athlete.

You'll also avoid common tennis injuries, which mostly result from overuse, improper mechanics, and lack of sufficient flexibility and strength. By strengthening muscles surrounding typical injury sites, you can strengthen the area and enable it to withstand the repetitive stresses associated with tennis.

Here are some tips on how to avoid injuries while playing tennis.

1. Side Lunge

Most tennis shots are taken by stepping laterally or by moving forward and reaching for the ball. Both these motions require strength as well as balance. Although exercises like leg extensions and leg curls are excellent for strengthening the lower body, they do not require balance. More sport-specific exercises are lunges, which demand both strength and balance. The side lunge is especially good because it mimics the lateral motion employed when running the baseline. Also, adjusting foot position during the lunge--stepping out--will emphasize the outer thigh, which doesn't often get a great deal of work.

2. Medicine Ball Twists

When hitting ground strokes, many players overuse their arms instead of winding up the trunk to generate power. To discourage this, hold a 6-10-pound medicine ball with both hands while simulating a groundstroke (forehand or backhand). This exercise should be performed slowly, not at full speed. The ball's weight will force clients to use the legs and torso to generate sufficient power to hit the ball.

3. Wrist Curls

Every year approximately four of every 1,000 adults has a problem with tennis elbow, or painful lateral epicondylitis. And not just tennis players or golfers: Many laborers like carpenters, auto mechanics, and house painters are affected. Wrist curls with light weights--both palm up and palm down--can help lessen initial forearm soreness that comes from having played after a long absence.

4. Rear Deltoid Fly

The most flexible and fragile, and perhaps the most abused joint in our bodies, is the shoulder. It is very vulnerable to injury and the back of the shoulder is often sorely neglected in training. The deltoids, or delts, as they are often called, are situated at the top of the shoulder and extend to the center of your upper arms. The delts are used in almost all tennis strokes, not just the overhead smash or during the serve. Back deltoid fly strengthens back of shoulders: It's also good for improving posture!

5. Jump Rope: Cardio-Hand-Foot Coordination

Jumping rope not only builds eye-hand and hand-foot coordination, it also is usually done in short bursts, mimicking the short and intense burst of speed and footwork used in a typical tennis match. Of course, it also develops leg and ankle strength, cardiovascular endurance, and balance. Going outdoors on a sturdy level surface is suggested.
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