It’s cold in most places this time of year, and with the cheer and chill comes a stiffness in the joints, especially when you’re out trying to hit the ball around. One of the best reminders I can give this holiday season is to exercise your rotator cuffs. This is key, of course, for any tennis player to excel in the sport, and it’s easy to overlook… until it’s injured.
Because tennis requires a huge range of motion in the shoulder, the ligaments themselves can’t give ample stability for repetitive movements. The main stress movements are the serve and overhead, but remember it’s really the everyday “wear and tear” of regular playing that gradually ends in injury. The focus in preventive measures needs to go on the four main muscles that make up the rotator cuff. Regular prevention exercise training keeps these muscles from getting inflamed or tearing during your game or practice.
Fitness Blender has a great video with some clutch exercises for injury prevention in the rotator cuff. It has seven different exercises that strengthen your muscles and help them offer the stability your shoulders need to be on your top game and health. It’s important to note, though, that these exercises are for injury prevention, not actual physical therapy. So if you already have a torn or inflamed rotator cuff, see a doctor for treatment, and begin this routine once it is back to normal so that you can strengthen your shoulders again for solid play.
The seven exercises are medial external rotation and internal, ventral external rotation and internal, lateral external rotation and internal, and rotational diagonal raise. You’re going to need a good resistance band for these exercises; start with an easier one and gradually go up in resistance level of the band as your body gets stronger. Be careful not to rush and push your muscles, which will only result in fatigue injury. Do this routine two or three times a week until you reach your desired strength, then move to once a week for maintenance.
Keep your muscles warmed up and strong. The last thing you need in the season’s craziness is a shoulder injury or stiff muscles. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your families and friends, and we wish you a successful time on the court with full health!
If you would like to learn more about warming up and injury-prevention stretching, check out one of our earlier entries “Is It a Stretch?”
Here’s Fitness Blender’s video and comments:
This is another opinion on the matter from a bodybuilding champ and fitness trainer: