More often than not, players have a specific amount of time that they can commit each day to there tennis game, whether it be practicing, playing in a match or working out in the gym. When one operates from a "time-crunched approach" to these sessions, almost 90% of the time, the first thing to go is the stretching. At the very least, by not stretching, you risk losing your range of motion and stability in the joints. Ultimately these can lead to serious injuries if left unattended. Or if it is not due to lack of time, in many instances it is due to lack of knowledge of what to do or when to do it.
Well I'm here to tell you that you need to make time to stretch and I'm here to tell when to do it and why to do it. Done properly, stretching will increase flexibility, promote healing between workouts, and allows the muscles to expand and contract quickly for ultimate explosive play.
I plan on keeping it pretty simple here...we are going to look at three very common types of stretching: Dynamic, Static, and Myofascial
Dynamic: To be done before performance of any kind. Usually preceded by a short bit of cardio (2-3 minutes). Purpose is to warm up core muscle temperature, get blood flowing, take muscles through smooth and controlled full range of motion and movements should mimic activities to follow.
Static: To be done after your workout. This is the time to hold each stretch for 20-40 seconds and breath into it. Post exercise, the muscles are most receptive to lengthening and then staying lengthened to increase flexibility. Far too often people to this type of stretching before workouts...this is like taking a frozen rubber band out of the freezer and trying to stretch it...it doesn't work.
Myofascial: To be done anytime. This is typically done placing your body weight on a foam roller targeting a specific muscle group and applying pressure to the muscle by rolling over it. In this type of stretch you actually hit the the membranes surrounding the muscle which are called fascia. I'm not going to lie, it will hurt but the decrease in overall tension you will feel in the muscle when you are through is well worth the discomfort.
So there you have it...a brief overview for the whens and whys of the 3 key types of stretching. If you need some simple routines, check out my iPod Workout called The Flexibility Factor. It has 3 simple downloadable 10 minute stretching routines in it.
Until next time,