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It’s estimated that around 21.64 million Americans started playing in the 2020 tennis season. This is an increase of 22.4 percent over the previous years.
Playing tennis recreationally has numerous health benefits. These include improving your fitness, coordination, and cardiovascular health, strengthening your bones, and reducing stress and weight.
According to the United States Tennis Association, just 3 hours of play per week can help you reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by 56%. What’s more, regular play can extend your life by 9.7 years over those with sedentary lifestyles.
And that’s not all. Playing tennis can also help you stay social, build and keep friendships, and create new community relationships. These can also contribute to your happiness and overall mental well-being.
However, it’s of critical importance to note that tennis is a high-impact sport. It puts extra stress on your weight-bearing joints like your knees, ankles, and hips. But don’t let that deter you from giving a chance to this beautiful sport.
Here, we’re going to discuss some ways to help you prepare your body for this tennis season.
The number one rule in getting your body ready for a new tennis season is taking things a step at a time. Taking it slowly is advisable after a winter period of few or no practice sessions at all. Immediately starting with intense physical training or competitive matches can cause aches, pain, or even severe injuries.
This can be particularly problematic with tennis. You are constantly working one side of the body (one shoulder, arm, and side of the back), which can prove to be overwhelming and lead to injury. And a serious injury can take you off the court for months at a time, or even the whole season.
The most common injuries in tennis affect your lower and upper limbs, as well as your back. Those include:
Many of these conditions can not only take you off the court. They can also prevent you from your regular daily activities.
This is why it’s critically important to ease into a new tennis season. You don’t need to start out hitting winners and running all over the court. In fact, it may be best to start off the court. Take a few days or even weeks to warm up your body, then get out there and slowly start practicing your shots.
Just like with everything in life, balance is the key when it comes to training. Starting with strengthening exercises 20 or 30 minutes a day will help you get back into the swing of things without putting the excessive pressure on your body that is required for intense training.
Make sure to work the muscles on the other side of your body (aka the non-dominant one). They should feel as strong and functional as the ones you primarily use when playing. Always focus on your weakest points and try to make them stronger.
Particularly focus on strengthening your hips and your glutes, which will improve your movement on the court. Weak glutes (especially on your non-dominant side) can put extra pressure on your knees, ankles, feet, and even shoulders and elbows, which increases the risk of injury.
A balanced mix of strengthening exercises and cardio bursts to improve your stamina will help you prevent potential injuries. Start with dynamic stretching, then proceed with squats, side kicks, push ups, deadlifts, lunges, planks, glute kickbacks and bridges.
Once you are ready to go back to the court, make sure to avoid over-repetition of any one type of stroke to avoid overuse. Balance a mix of forehands, backhands, serves, volleys, and smashes to avoid repetitive stress on your tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
Near-infrared light therapy uses light-emitting diodes of specific wavelengths – usually in the 600 to 2,500 nanometers range. This mimics natural sunlight at sunset and dawn – to help treat a variety of health issues.
As proven by numerous studies, near-infrared light can help you:
You can apply near-infrared light therapy in the comfort of your own home through a portable device like Flexbeam. Flexbeam works by emitting red and near-infrared light in the range of 625-830 nanometers. It operates in 10-minute cycles with three levels of penetration depth.
Among its numerous benefits, Flexbeam can help relieve muscle and joint aches, pain, and stiffness caused by arthritis, strains and sprains, and muscle spasms, as well as relax muscles and improve local blood circulation. All the things necessary to prepare for a tennis season.
Using Flexbeam for an hour over your spine, waistline, stomach and chest 24 hours before an intense training or a match can improve your energy levels, reduce anxiety, and help you relax.
You can also apply Flexbeam over muscles that are sore or those that require the most use while playing approximately an hour before training or a game. The same protocol can also be applied an hour after playing in order to help combat muscular fatigue and speed up recovery.
Finally, it’s important to choose a racket that will match your strength, size, and grip. A racket that is too heavy for you could cause overloading of the shoulder and injuries such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
Work on developing proper skills and technique. If possible, consult a qualified coach or a professional that could help you improve.
All of these exercises and preparation will help you feel fit, strong, and flexible, which will inevitably improve your confidence on the court and help get your body and your mind ready for this tennis season.