Tennis is a
big deal here in the Atlanta area, and at Resurgens Spine Center, we think it's
great to see so many people taking an active approach to improving their
physical fitness. While tennis can be
the perfect way to get some exercise (and have some fun while you're at it),
it's definitely a sport that puts a lot of stress on the spine and back
muscles. Sudden stops, spine-twisting
saves, and powerful serves are all part of the game but they can also be hard
on your back. If you like to spend your
free time on the tennis court, here are a few tips to help protect your spine,
neck, and back from injuries.
Always do a Proper Warm-up
As is the case when playing any sport, a good warm-up helps to limber up the muscles and joints so they'll be more flexible during play.Without a proper warm-up, you're more likely to experience injuries like muscle strains and joint sprains that could have you sitting out this tennis season.For best results, consult your doctor to develop a warm-up routine for before and after physical activity and be sure to ask about specific tennis-related stretches to keep the lower back, shoulders, and knees limber so they can take the punishment they'll face out on the court.
Pay Attention to Your Serve
If you want to serve just like the pros, it means hyperextending the lower back muscles and compressing the lumbar discs of your spine.That means every serve creates the potential for serious injuries. Remember that you're playing for fun, not for keeps, and adjust your serving technique accordingly.A coach can be an excellent resource to help you find the right form for your serve, one that will give you the power you want while still protecting your spine.
Hard Court or Soft Court?
The type of court on which you play can have a big impact (literally) on how much punishment your spine will take during play.Not only do hard courts absorb less shock, they also ratchet up the speed of the game, requiring greater agility for the player to keep up.Soft courts, on the other hand, are able to absorb some of the stress that occurs during sudden stops, sudden starts, and jumps.In addition, a soft surface like clay or grass slows down the speed of the ball, giving you more time to react and position your body appropriately to avoid injuries.While they are less common than hard courts, soft courts can be ideal for those who want to play a more leisurely game of tennis that protects their spine from injury.
Tennis players are a rare breed; to play the game well, you need extreme agility, endurance, and the ability to think quickly on your feet. Because of the high demands of the game, the potential for injuries should be foremost on the minds of anyone who plays tennis, whether they're a pro or they're just playing casually. Follow the tips listed above and you'll reduce your chances of injuring your spine, your neck muscles, and your back muscles. Good luck on the court this summer, and stay safe!