The key to improving your movement function, reducing pain, and improving your game on the court is to understand the causes of tennis-related injuries. Tennis is a very popular sport in Australia, there are about 1 million players aged 15 years and over. But unfortunately, the forceful twists and turns of this game puts players at high risk of getting injured.
Common Causes of Tennis Injuries
It is very common to see joint and muscle strains among Rushcutters Health members who play tennis, especially in the knees, lower back, and shoulders. This can be traced to basic tennis biomechanics. Groundstrokes, such as forehand and backhand, requires your body to deliver loads of power in order to hit the ball. Taking the racket back and following through results to your leg pivoting in the hip sockets which requires your spine and shoulders to rotate as you swing your arm.
To generate more power, some advanced tennis players jump when they swing and follow through. In order to do this, they have to sync their leg/hip pivot to their upper body rotation. With this, you can see how fundamental the rotation of the hips is to be good at the game. However, hip rotation puts stress on the joints, tendons and muscles which then results to tennis injuries.
So, enhancing your hip rotation would reduce the risk of any tennis induced injury and will prevent any pain to your knees, lower back and shoulders.
Here are 3 tips to improve your hip rotation for the tennis swing:
- Assess your ability to internally and externally rotate your hips, watching out for any signs of movement restrictions
- Look for any muscles or tissue structures that are affected by these movement restrictions
- Talk to your personal trainer about appropriate exercise strategies that will address these restrictions.
Let’s discuss these in more detail:
Step 1 – Assessing your internal and external hip rotation
In order to create powerful and pain-free strokes when playing, your hips must rotate internally and externally.
When assessing internal hip rotation, you should lie on the floor with your legs spread about 20-24 inches apart. Turn your legs inward and let your feet move toward each other. As you rotate your legs inward, do not bend your knees or let your pelvis lift.
Next, turn your legs towards the midline and remember that both legs should be able to turn about 40 degrees. If any of your legs cannot turn as far as the other, then you lack internal rotation.
When assessing external hip rotation, turn both your legs outward and let your feet move away from each other. Examine how far your legs can turn from midline, again done bend your knees or let the pelvis lift. When doing this, your legs should turn about 45 degrees. When one leg cannot turn as far as the other, then there is a problem with external rotation.
Step 2: Identifying any affected soft tissue structures
If you are unbale to rotate your hips after following the instructions in Step 1, then there may be an imbalance in your soft tissues or muscles.
Understanding the functional anatomy that affect hip function is crucial in planning the appropriate corrective exercise for you. Not a member yet? Book a free consultation with a Rushcutters Health personal trainer to test you and set appropriate exercise plan that will address these restrictions. They will be able to identify which muscle or soft tissues are affected based on where you feel any tightness or restriction. Your personal trainer will then be able to tailor an exercise routine that will help improve your game on the court and get you back into perfect shape.