It’s fall in Atlanta, and it’s time to get back out on the tennis court. How are you feeling? Do you feel strong and well prepared? Are you excited to help your teammates work toward another championship? Or are you crossing your fingers that the tennis elbow from last season stays away? Gingerly testing out your knee that feels fine until you try to run? Hoping your sticky shoulder doesn’t impact your serve?
It’s critical that we take care of our bodies so we can do the things we love to do, like playing tennis. But sometimes it’s difficult to know what that looks like. It can be challenging to know what program is best for you personally, not just the one that you saw a pop-up ad for. And since there are only so many hours in a day, how do you identify what is most important?
The good news is that no matter where the injury, we can usually start working from our core and move outward. Although many injuries occur far away from our core (tennis elbow, ankle sprains, knee pain, shoulder impingement, etc.), the root cause may actually be elsewhere. When we serve or hit the tennis ball, the stroke starts with power driven from our lower body, transferred into the core, out to our shoulder girdle, and finally into the forearm and the hand holding the racket. If there is a breakdown at any point along this chain, we may develop compensations that start to over-stress certain areas. One thing isn’t doing enough, another thing starts doing too much, and eventually we begin to feel pain.
Oftentimes we wait until we feel pain to seek a solution. A better approach is to be proactive and address imbalances in the body before they start giving us trouble. Or we can continue the strategies that worked to heal an injury to prevent it from coming back. It can be something as simple as doing a few dynamic warm up exercises before practice or a match. It may also be exercises or self release strategies devoted to that body part to keep it healthy.
We brush our teeth everyday for good oral hygiene. We wash our hair regularly for good hair and scalp health. So why not prioritize our musculoskeletal system to keep it healthy and ready for the next match?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.