Tennis is a highly demanding sport requiring increased cardiovascular endurance, agility, strength, and flexibility. In tennis, stretching is a secret advantage for players since it brings many benefits. For example, a study has shown that stretching will help you be highly flexible. In addition, tennis stretches can reduce the risk of injury and ultimately contribute to your longevity.
Research revealed that flexibility, similar to strength and endurance, is a functional element that refers to the typical range of movement around the joint. Therefore, flexibility development happens through various stretching exercises, and you can effectively perform them.
The Significance of Stretching
Tennis is an active game that uses many muscle groups, which means stretching is not an option but a necessary prerequisite. For that matter, stretching is a must for everyone; even most martial arts require stretching. However, because of the nature of the game and the amount of physical stress one’s body has to undergo while playing tennis, stretching is a powerful tool in the player’s armoury. It improves mobility, aids fast recovery and lowers the risk of injury.
According to recent surveys, tennis players should ideally stretch every day and every time, before and after play. Research also shows that static stretching done before the game for 30 to 45 minutes will substantially reduce the muscular performance of players. Hence it is essential for tennis players to understand the types of tennis stretches, how, when and to what extent one should practice them.
Dynamic Vs Static Stretching
The vital part of the tennis training program is a good tennis stretching routine. According to Harvard Medical Experts, stretching helps the player keep their muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which is needed to ensure active joint motion. Without the stretches, the muscles will be shortened and become tight.
With all the benefits, stretching is necessary if you want to compete in a tennis game. However, knowing what type of stretching is required and when is also important. That’s where the dynamic Vs Static stretching comes in. Dynamic tennis stretches involve short and active movements, while static stretches require holding your muscles in a particular position.
Dynamic Tennis Stretching: Before A Game
The goal of tennis stretches before a match is to prepare the player for strenuous movements and to induce performance on the court. In addition, research shows that a tennis player who does dynamic stretches shows improved dynamic flexibility, with increased body temperature and bold intramuscular flow.
Dynamic stretches use functional movements to prepare muscles for intense activity. You can perform these stretches generally in sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. They consist of controlled leg and arm swings that gently limit your range of motion. Here are some examples of dynamic stretches:
- Arm circles
- Side shuffle
- Walking knee to chest
- Straight leg kick
Static Tennis Stretching: After a Game
After a vigorous match, it is crucial to spend some time recovering from the strenuous activities of the game. Here comes the role of static tennis stretches, where the player has to spend at least 15-20 minutes. In addition, a study shows that due to the full range of motion in tennis, the muscle may lose elasticity to enforce the power required for the game.
Performing static stretching will help them gain flexibility, revive muscle functioning, and set back the control of the muscles’ functions. Research also shows that static stretching increases the ROM of different joints and the flexibility of specific muscles.
Below are some examples of static stretches:
- Seated Butterfly
- Overhead triceps stretch
- Kneeling hip flexor stretch
- Supine hamstring stretch
Ways to Perform the Stretches
Here are the general steps to follow while doing the tennis stretches.
- Slowly and steadily move into the stretch position.
- Keep up the form until you feel tension or discomfort on a scale of 7 out of 10.
- Try to hold the stretch position for at least 20 to 30 seconds while practising deep breathing.
- If you experience excess pain, you have pushed the stretch position too far. Make sure to get out of the position immediately.
- When you release the stretch, get out of the position carefully. Avoid jerky and fast movements.
- Do the stretch on the other side, if necessary. Make sure to repeat the stretch 2 or 3 times.
- Give your body time to cool down and help with muscle recovery/relief.
The HealthifyMe Note
Stretches are an excellent way to start your tennis practice. However, make sure to follow the instructions while doing each stretch. In addition, you must consult your healthcare professional if you find any sudden muscle or joint pain while performing any stretch.
Best Tennis Stretches
To gain maximum performance benefits, one should be smart about stretching choices and use them wisely. Effective tennis stretches will improve your athleticism, performance, and flexibility, enabling you to stay safe during the game.
Below are the seven best stretches for preparing for the game.
Tennis Elbow Stretch
It is one of the essential tennis stretches that will help relieve the elbow pain in players. Also known as Wrist Flexor Stretch and Wrist Extensor Stretch, you can do it seated or standing, irrespective of the place. Here’s the way to do it.
- Extend one arm straight in front of you, with the palm facing down and your wrist in alignment with the shoulder.
- Slightly bend your wrist so that your fingers point down.
- Use your other hand to put gentle pressure on your wrist, experiencing the stretch in your forearm.
- Hold on for 20 to 30 seconds before proceeding with the other side.
Cross Shoulder Stretch
Cross shoulder stretch is another effective stretching option that will strengthen and promote the function of your shoulders. One performs it to isolate the lateral and anterior heads of the deltoid muscle.
- Extend your right arm and move it across your chest, aligning it parallel to the floor.
- Take your left hand and gently exert pressure on your upper arm. At the same time, keep your right shoulder down and away from your ears.
- Hold on to the position for at least 30 seconds before switching sides.
Calf/Achilles Tendon Stretch
Research has indicated that the Achilles tendon and calf muscles are more prone to injury in tennis players. This calf/Achilles tendon stretch will strengthen the muscles in the lower leg, effectively preventing injuries. Below are the steps to do the stretch.
- Keep both hands on the wall and step back to make a lunge position.
- Align your wrists in line with your shoulders.
- Extend the back leg to feel a deep stretch in the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
- After 20 to 30 seconds, move on to stretch the other side.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch
Elevated hamstring stretch will limit your performance while playing tennis. However, being a beginner-friendly option, sitting hamstring stretch will warm up your lower body, proactively strengthening your muscles. Below are the steps to do the stretch.
- Sit on the ground with one leg bent at the knee and the foot facing inward, where the posture is known as the butterfly position.
- Extend the other leg and keep it slightly bent at the knee.
- Bend forward at the waist and make sure to keep the back straight
- Hold on to the position for at least 20 seconds.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
Standing Quad Stretch is another great static stretching movement that is perfect after an intense game. It helps the players in relieving the muscles soreness. Quadriceps muscles help perform various activities, including standing, walking, running, and other movements essential for tennis. Here is how you do the stretches.
- Lift your left leg off the ground and your left heel with the left hand till your bottom.
- Ensure to keep both knees aligned
- Hold on to a solid object with the opposite arm to maintain the balance
- After 20 to 30 seconds, repeat the steps with the right leg.
Supine Spinal Twist
Supine Spinal Twist is a common tennis stretch that focuses on your glutes, chest, lower back, and obliques. Here is how you can do it.
- Lie on your back and bend your knees, drawn towards your chest
- Gently bring your knees to the right side, keeping them bent, and let your legs rest on the floor beside you.
- Now extend your arms to either side and allow your palms to face down on the floor.
- Turn your head to reach your left ear toward the floor.
- Breath deeply, and after 20 to 30 seconds, return your legs to the normal position and begin the process with the left side.
Studies show that the arm circle stretch is one of the easiest and most effective stretches before your game. It will help to improve the blood circulation in your body, specifically focusing on your shoulder, triceps, and biceps.
Here are the steps to do this tennis stretch.
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Extend your arms parallel to the floor at about your shoulder height.
- Circle your arms forward using slow and steady controlled motions, and gradually increase the size of the circle.
- Continue the process for 20 to 30 seconds and reverse the direction.
Benefits of Tennis Stretches
Regular tennis stretching will help you increase your flexibility, reducing muscle imbalance. The muscle imbalance results in less resistance to injuries while performing various movements.
You can’t engage in flexible movements during the game if your muscles are sore or stiff. Hence performing tennis stretches will support you in gaining control of your muscles in a full range of motion, enhancing your strength.
Practising simple tennis stretches as a part of your training program will effectively promote blood circulation and improve the mental alertness and coordination of the individuals. The study also shows that tennis stretches can also aid in eliminating the waste byproducts from muscle tissues.
Reduce the Risk of Injury
Studies have proved that regular tennis stretching is critical in injury prevention. Routine tennis stretching will lower the risk of injuries. These include Rotator cuff tendonitis (acute irritation in the shoulder tendons and muscles), Knee tendonitis (irritation in the knee tendons and muscles), and Musculotendinous overuse injuries. These occur in the elbow and muscles.
Simply put, stretching helps individuals relax and cool down after an exciting game. Furthermore, a study shows that stretching aids in lowering the blood pressure level and improves artery function.
Players often experience muscle tightness in their quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors. In short, tight muscles lead to low back pain and impaired movement patterns and compensation. Research shows that a regular stretching routine helps in relieving pain.
The HealthifyMe Note
There are several benefits to incorporating the tennis stretching routine in your training program that will make you stand out from the crowd. Many players and trainers have readily agreed with the advantages of tennis stretching in maximising the performance level and minimising the risk of injury.
Tips for Safe Tennis Stretches
Whether you are a runner or tennis player, stretching can help you in numerous ways. It relieves back pain, stiff necks, sore knees, and more. The right stretching program will pave the path to better performance. However, if you do not do your stretches properly, it may cause permanent injury or damage to your ligaments and joints.
Hence, follow the safety tips below while performing the tennis stretches.
Start with Warm-ups
Muscles tend to stretch more easily when warm, and trying to stretch cold muscles is not advisable. The warm-ups could be either simple marching with arms swinging in place or gentle walking or jogging to steady your body temperature. It would help if you did it until you begin to sweat, preparing the heart and lungs, and warming your muscles.
Focus on Pain Level
It would help if you stretched only to the mild discomfort and not extend it to the point of pain. If you experience any pain while stretching, cease the action immediately. Then, get back to the position carefully and try again steadily. Over time with consistent practice, you will see a significant improvement in flexibility.
Be Attentive to Posture and Form
Posture refers to your actions, whether sitting, standing, or moving. Maintaining good form will help you gain flexibility and reduce the chances of injury while stretching tight muscles.
Concentration on the Stretching Muscles
If you are a beginner, you might notice that one part of your body is tighter than the other. Therefore, it is essential to practice balancing both sides with time.
Modify the Stretch
If you find any difficulties performing a particular stretch, change it as per your preference. Every player’s body has unique flexibility, and so does the need for a specific type of stretch. Remember, it is normal to feel discomfort while doing the tennis stretches but bearing the exuding pain is not a good option.
Ensure Comfortable Breathing
Avoid holding your breath while stretching your muscles. Instead, breathe comfortably while doing the stretches.
While tempting to skip the practice, Aim to stretch frequently, as often as your body allows. Consistent practice is the only way to help you gain flexibility and ease of motion.
Consult with Experts
Before you begin stretching practices, work with an expert tennis coach or exercise professional to know the safe and proper form to help you get the most out of the stretching routine.
Stretching is a critical practice in injury prevention. It improves flexibility in individuals in general, making it easier to accomplish countless daily activities. For example, tennis is a robust sport focusing on lateral quickness, shoulder stability, stronger muscles, greater injury resistance, and rotation strength.
Understanding the importance of stretching can benefit anyone participating in sports and other athletic activities. However, warming up and cooling down are often overlooked by tennis professionals. Yet, a study shows that spending a few minutes stretching before and after tennis will significantly reduce the risk of injuries in players.
Static stretches are best for post-play, which you should do to release tension from the muscles after a session. In contrast, dynamic stretches are best for pre-play, specifically warming your body so you will be ready for the session. So next time, before you hit on the court, don’t forget to stretch.