The Grand Slam season is well upon us!
For all of my fellow tennis lovers & players, you understand the excitement this statement brings! Wimbledon is winding down this weekend so we are in the middle of the outdoor tennis season. Like many of you, I have been taking full advantage of the sun and getting out on the court almost every day! Being on the court outside so often has definitely come with some challenges. So I thought I would discuss a few things that I think will help you get the most out of your time on the court!
The sun is the first challenge and although it provides optimal conditions for outdoor tennis, it may also cause issues of dehydration and overheating. Having played in many warm outdoor facilities in the southern U.S., I found that by sipping on water before, during and after my time on court really helped with maintaining my level of play. Putting yourself at risk of dehydration will not only have negative effects on your health but may also decrease your level of performance - and nobody wants that! But don’t let this shy you away from the tennis court – there are a few simple things that you can do to prevent these problems from occurring. The International Tennis Federation website lists many great tips to reduce your risk factors for heat related illnesses. Some of these suggestions include:
· Wearing appropriate clothing - clothing should be loose fitting to allow circulation of air between the shirt and body and should also be light coloured. Always wear a hat or visor as well!!
· Acclimatization – Try to get your body used to playing tennis in warmer weather by starting with shorter periods of play while increasing the duration over time.
· When to play – Avoid the hottest times of the day.
· ALWAYS wear sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater! If you plan to play more than 2 hours or are participating in multiple sessions throughout the day, make sure you reapply as it is likely you have sweat off the sunscreen during your time on court.
Tennis can be a very physically demanding sport. It is very important to incorporate a warm up to prepare your body for quick and sudden movements it is about to make. The good news is, your physical warmup does not need to be lengthy! It should include dynamic movements that will get your body ready to play tennis. My warmup typically lasts from 5 to 7 minutes and includes the following:
· Jogging/walking from the baseline to the net 3-4 times
· Walking hamstring stretch
· Walking quadricep stretch
· Arm circles (forwards & backwards)
· Any other stretches or movements that you feel will increase your performance on the court!
A proper warm up will not only improve your performance, it will also decrease your likelihood of injury.
Another tip for decreasing your chance of injury during tennis is having the right gear. This means having the proper footwear and proper racket weight. Talk to the experts at the stores where you purchase your equipment before buying anything. They will help you decide what is suitable to your needs! It is also important to pay attention to your technique. Even Roger Federer has a coach that helps him work on his technique so it never hurts to consult a coach every once in a while.
Although most people reading this, including myself, won’t be playing at Wimbledon anytime soon, it doesn’t mean we are immune from injury. If you do have an injury, give yourself a chance to recover. Get the appropriate help including physiotherapy and medical treatment as soon as possible.
I will finish with some common tennis related injuries to look out for:
· Tennis Elbow - Inflammation of the tendons joining the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow. Signs to look out for include pain or burning on the outside of the elbow and weak grip strength.
· Rotator Cuff Tears – Are you experiencing shoulder pain when you serve? Symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include pain, tenderness, and weakness in the shoulder, difficulty lifting the arm, and snapping and crackling noises while moving the shoulder.
· Lower Back Pain – This is an issue I have struggled with in the past and I believe it was due to a lack of stretching after competing. Tennis requires a combination of bending the back, side bending and rotation of the trunk. These motions put stress on the vertebrae in the lower back and can result in significant pain.
· Ankle Sprains – I have also battled with multiple ankle sprains during my time as a tennis athlete. Since tennis can be a fast paced game, a sudden sideways motion can cause the ankle to twist, stretching out or damaging one of the ligaments in the ankle. A sprain can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the ankle.
Now that you know how to protect yourself from the sun, get yourself ready to play and lower your chance of becoming injured…you’re ready to get out onto the court and play! See you all out there!
Thanks for reading my post! If you have any questions or feedback please send us an email or reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram and look out for more health related information on journal soon!
Megan Blue BSc MSc
About Megan Blue – Megan is currently preparing to complete her registration as a Kinesiologist in Ontario. She has completed a Master Degree in exercise physiology. She has played Division I tennis in Kentucky & South Georgia. Currently she is a member of the rehab team at Physiotherapy and Beyond and still an avid tennis player!