So you’re all dressed up in your gear, racket in hand, ready for a nice warm day full of tennis training at a Tennis Academy in Florida. But before you walk out onto that court, you’ve got to warm up those muscles to avoid straining them.
The problem is that most people aren’t doing proper warm-ups before playing tennis. Most people just stretch out their muscles because that is what they are taught to do. In reality, this is the worst thing you can do for your muscles before an active workout. Imagine your muscles as if they are rubber bands. If you stretch a rubber band too far too quickly it could easily snap. Yet if you stretch it gradually, a little bit each day, it will become more stretchable and flexible. It just takes time.
But before you start playing tennis, you don’t need to stretch. You need to warm your muscles up and get blood flowing to them so they’re ready for some intense activity. This is called dynamic stretching, or active dynamic warm-up. Basically, instead of stretching out the muscles, you are moving them so they are prepared for activity.
Some dynamic stretches you can do are:
*Light walking or jogging for five minutes
*Knee Hugs-walking by hugging each knee to your chest
Doing mock tennis moves also counts as dynamic stretching. Mocking hitting the ball with a variety of swings will prepare your muscles even better for playing. It is advised to do as much dynamic stretching as possible before every game or training session. But make sure to do it within thirty minutes of playing, as the benefits of the warm up will wear out with 30 minutes of inactivity.
Now when it comes to the cool down, this is a different story. If you have no intention of going to play more later in the day, then a static stretch, or cool down stretch, is important. This will help slow down your muscles without bringing them to a complete halt, and slowly removing the lactic acid your activity has build up in your muscles. Without stretching after your workout, your muscles will feel sore.
Some static stretches you can do are:
*Lunges-one foot forward, other leg stretched back, trying to press heel to the floor. Make sure front knee does not go beyond the toe, as this could injure the knee.
*Arm crossovers-one arm across the chest, the other arm holds and pushes it back
*Hand down spine-one arm overhead, hand going back on the spine, other hand gently pulls on the elbow
*Touch your toes-can be done sitting down or standing up. Each stretches the muscles differently.
Warming up and cooling down are integral parts of playing any sport. They are meant to prepare your muscles for active workouts and to relieve them from the stress they endured during the workout. Doing these will minimize the risk of injury.
Remember that dynamic stretching goes before you work out, and static stretching comes afterward. If you feel pain at any moment, cease stretching or working out and let the muscle rest. If it persists, seek medical assistance.