Top Poster: Lawn Tennis
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a tremendous stretching tip......
Stretching is so important, it can't be stressed enough. Many people hate it and due to the discomfort, don't really put any effort into it. Most people wait to stretch when they get to the court not long before a match. Here is something that a friend of mine who was a professional bodybuilder helped me with while I was on tour. It makes so much sense to do and it really, really works........
Before practice and matches, I began taking hot showers. I began stretching while in those hot showers and it was like night and day versus the stretching I had been taught by the "tennis gurus". The blood began circulating and it really loosened me up much better than on-court stretching. It was like pulling teeth for me to stretch before, but once I took the time to get ready to play earlier and I started stretching in the shower, I saw some major improvements in performance. So, for you folks that don't like stretching, give it a try. Especially you tournament players. The hot water will get you warm quicker and it really eases some of the pain of stretching. Hope that helps a little.
that makes sense. how much time can pass between stretching and the activity?
Always do a court stretch as well. It will get the blood flowing and you will stay warm for awhile, but you can cool down so always do a court stretch as well. This just really seemed to make me feel more limber during court stretches. I would usually shower about an hour before matchtime. It's also a great postmatch stretch session as well since most people shower after playing. Don't worry about the time between getting in the shower and your match. You will need to stretch again on the court regardless. The more you stretch, the better......
Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis
Another approach that may be even more effective and easier to do, is the way put forth in the book, "Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (4th Revision ed) by Thomas Kurz" .
Originally Posted by tennisking1
In this stretching, you do a dynamic, range of movement stretching prior to your workout, opposed to the static, holding types of stretches. These moving type stretches are more of a warm up type move, that works the ranges of current flexibility, but not trying to push for greater stretch at this point. It is also a great way to warm up the body and get the blood flowing to the right places, even more than a shower. To push flexibility limits prior to your event actually increases the chance of injury for 3 known reasons. It creates some fatigue, weakens the muscle, and actually lessens coordination in the muscle.
After the tennis match, while you are still warm from the work is the time to go to the static, hold type stretching to work for adding flexibility. This will also help with muscle soreness and mitigate the tightness that often follows hard work outs.
Last edited by airforce1; 09-06-2009 at 10:31 AM.
that's interesting. so we have to buy the book?
Originally Posted by airforce1
I don't know much of a way around that. Maybe you can find excerpts or a version online somewhere. The explanations and examples of various movements are a little much to get into on the forum. I could maybe give an example for a particular muscle, like say the hams if you like?
Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis
that would be nice, thanks.
I'll give it a try
OK, this is a general hamstring type answer, as I didn't just read the book. I'll go from what I do after having read the book.
Originally Posted by Lawn Tennis
For the back of the top of the leg (hams), in the morning upon rising, and right prior to your event, you would hold something like the fence or net at your side for balance. This helps you to relax and focus on the proper movements.
Then gently swing the leg forward in a leg lift motion. The swing should be gentle, and it should be augmented by the muscles on the front of the leg lifting the now sort of unweighted leg. This helps you to warm up the opposing muscle and avoids your kicks becoming more ballistic in nature, which could actually give a cold muscle a tear. You are not trying to kick high at all, but trying to use the range of motion you currently possess. Little or no new flexibility is gained in this part of the program. It is just to prepare for an event. At the top of the lift, you let it gently fall and swing behind you, which starts to warm up the quads as well. You stand and swing the leg back and forth like a pendulum for 8-12 reps and you will notice how the muscle warms up and starts to lets go for full current range of motion. Two sets of 8-12 should be enough if done correctly I believe. The book shares several other movements to do as part of your warm up and this should get you warm and ready to go.
Now after your event is very important as well and easy to forget (BUT don't).
Shortly after the match and while you are still very warm is the time to perform easy static stretches. I like to put my foot up on a fence or bleacher and do these ham static stretches while standing, but sitting on the ground is fine as well. It is amazing how doing these easy, static stretches will help you not to tighten up later as you recover. Do them even if you have another match 2hrs later. Again, these don't really add new flexibility either, but keep your current level up to par.
Now for adding new flexibility for those who want or need it. I do think adding flexibility is overrated unless required by the sport, as the important part is keeping what you have- ready to use and avoiding injury.
You don't need to do a split to play tennis.
But for those who need to add some range of motion, what you do is work on that about 3 times per week with dynamic tension, on days you are not playing. Younger players can do more, cause they recover so well. This is done by doing the gentle warm up for an event, cause this part of the stretching is much like an event in itself. Once warm, you do working static stretches. I put the foot up on the bleacher with the leg nearly straight to protect the knee. Then you press down with the heel of the foot as though to cut through the bleacher, even though nothing moves, and count 8 seconds holding the tension. I repeat this 2-3 times for each leg (ham). The idea is that building strength with this elongated muscle provides an increase in usable range in motion. That when the muscle is taxed in an elongated position with little strength there, it reacts to protect itself by contracting. By building strength here, it does not trigger this reaction nearly as early.
After doing these working stretches, do some easy relaxed static stretches like you would do after an event as described above.
Hope this was useful, as it came from memory of reading the book quite awhile back. I developed my program from it and have no strained muscle problems when using it regularly.
Last edited by airforce1; 09-07-2009 at 11:55 AM.
airforce1 is absolutely correct about static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching will temporarily reduce muscle performance (both strength & speed) for about 30-60 minutes. It should be performed right after tennis and not immediately prior to play. You can do that static stretching at home, before heading off to the courts. Doing it under a hot shower sounds like an excellent advice.
Once you get to the courts, perform a dynamic warmup -- no static stretches (until after tennis). The USTA Player Development web site started recommending this about 5 to 8 years ago. Numerous exercise experts have been saying this for the past decade or more. Here is one of the USTA pages on the subject (from 2004):
USTA - Ask the Experts: Dynamic Flexibility
Last edited by SystemicAnomaly; 10-11-2009 at 11:41 AM.
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