Fit to Play™ -Dynamic Warm-Up (Part 1) Lower Core & Hips
Carl Petersen BPE, BSc.(PT)
Most sports medicine professionals agree that a warm-up is an important component of athletic preparation including tennis. Tennis is an explosive sport, requiring players to react to numerous emergencies with movement in multiple directions and through several different planes of movement for short bursts of time. It is characterized by quick stops, starts, lateral movements and fast changes of direction. Warming the body up before stepping on court ensures the muscles are prepared for action and can adequately accelerate and decelerate your limbs while playing.
Dynamic warm-up of the lower core and hips is important to allow good court mobility and protect against of injury. It is the activity of choice before playing as it allows you to gradually warm-up the body’s tissues with movements that prepare you for on court activities. Whether you’re training hard or just out for some fun doubles, following the advice below will help you keep Fit to Play™. This is Part 1 of a 4 part series that explores a variety of different warm-up drills and exercises.
Always warm up to play or practice, don’t just play to warm-up.
Intense exercise done without a sport specific dynamic warm-up does not allow for optimal performance and may contribute to injury.
- Start slowly and increase the intensity and complexity of the warm-up.
- Proper warm-up prepares the muscles you will use in training and prepares the joints for movement and dynamic stability throughout a full range of motion.
- Use tennis specific movements to help improve the relaxation-contraction coordination of the joints’ prime movers and stabilizers leading to more efficient movement and performance.
- Heat generation is an important component of the warm-up. It is commonly believed that a two degree increase of muscle temperature can give an increase in elastic properties of the muscle by as much as 15-20% helping to improve performance and prevent muscle strains.
- Warming-up until you achieve a light glow (sweaty armpits) helps achieve this.
You should do a specific dynamic warm-up before every training or practice session to prepare yourself both mentally and physically.
A key purpose and benefit of a warm-up is increased tissue temperature to help safely prepare for playing. Generate heat by using the large muscle groups of the legs and hips. If you have time and access to a gym do some cardiovascular activities like treadmill, elliptical trainer, exercise bike, stair-climber or agility ladder for 5-10-15 minutes. If that is not an option, do some easy jogging around the court or take a skipping rope with you and use it for several minutes.
All ages and levels of tennis players will benefit from incorporating a good dynamic warm-up before practice or play. The next few articles will give you many good ideas to include in your own dynamic warm up. Have fun on court and Stay Fit to Play™.
Carl Petersen is a partner/physiotherapist at City Sports & Physiotherapy Clinic in Vancouver. He is an internationally recognized speaker and has co-authored the book Fit to Play™ Tennis as well as a variety of other training resources with former WTA professional, current coach and exercise model Nina Nittinger based in Davos Switzerland.