Fit to Play™-Dynamic Warm-Up (part 2) Upper Core & Arms

Carl Petersen BPE, BSc.(PT)

A dynamic warm-up for the upper core (torso and shoulders) is important to prepare the joints for movement. It helps improve dynamic stability throughout the range of motion allowing good scapular stability during all tennis strokes thus protecting against injury.

The shoulder girdle acts as a funnel to transfer forces generated from the ground up through the hips and legs to core and upper torso into the arms and hand. By using tennis specific motions they help to improve the contraction-relaxation coordination of the muscles around the joints improving performance.

Whether you’re training hard or just out for some fun doubles, following the advice below will help you stay Fit to Play™. This is Part 2 of a 4 part series.

Always Warm up to play or practice, don’t play to warm up.

Upper Core & Shoulder Warm-Up:

Try doing the prescribed sets and repetitions of the following exercises. These warm-up exercises will help to get the correct muscle sequence firing, stabilize the shoulder girdle and lubricate the joints of the spine, shoulder girdle and arm. They should be performed done with correct body alignment and athletic stance to activate the core.

Stand tall with shoulder relaxed and down. Do 1-2 sets of 6-10  repetitions of arm swings going both clockwise and counterclockwise to warm up the rotator cuff muscles and lubricate the shoulder joint. You can also add in a figure of 8 motion as well.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees bent, bent torso forward and place one hand on your knee. Now take the opposite hand and place it through the opening between your arm and leg. Next rotate your arm and torso towards the sky. Do 1-2 sets of 6-10 repetitions each side to warm up the spinal muscles and joints.

Leaning against a solid support like a wall, umpires chair or fence do some push ups. Do 2 sets of 6-10 repetitions with different hand positions. Try narrow, medium and wide hand positions to work different muscle groups.

Stand holding a stretch cord in each hand. Pull your hands (thumbs up) towards your torso with a rowing motion. Do 2 sets of 6-10 repetitions to warm up the mid back muscles.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart and knees bent. Place a light stretch cord under one foot. Now pull the stretch cord as if you were drawing a sword out of your waistband and then pointing it to the side. Do 2 sets of 6-10 repetitions.

All players can benefit from a well-structured dynamic warm-up before heading on court. The next few articles will continue to build on the first 2 and give you more exercises to help customize your individual dynamic warm-up. Have fun on court and Keep 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.