Mercy Health's Dream Team of Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Experts Offer Tennis Exercise Tips You'll Love

(CINCINNATI; August 6, 2014) – Once August arrives, the thoughts of many in Cincinnati turn to tennis. As fans of the game will tell you, tennis provides great health benefits - boosting speed, agility, coordination and strength - while providing a well-rounded, heart-pumping workout.

Like most sports, however, tennis also carries a risk for injury, particularly to wrists, elbows and shoulders. That’s where Mercy Health’s Dream Team of Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Specialists can help. They’ve provided the following set of tips you’ll love to help you stay safe and make the most of your time on the courts.

Muscle and tendon strains and ligament sprains may cause pain that varies depending upon the severity of the injury. While pain might be present initially only after playing tennis, it can progress to pain during play and eventually to activities of daily living. For those who play tennis, the keys to healthy elbows, wrists and shoulders include incorporating flexibility, strength and endurance exercises into your weekly routine.

Repeated use of the arm during tennis can place considerable stress on both the elbow and wrist. Elbows and wrists are at risk for overuse injuries that can arise from different gripping techniques, string tension and the constant force on the racquet.

You’ll want to take time to increase the flexibility of your wrist by using one hand to gently flex and extend the other wrist. Hold these stretches for 30 seconds at a time for five sets.

Next, you will want to strengthen the wrist. You can attach a two-pound weight to your racquet. Stand behind a chair, bend your elbow to 90 degrees and keep the palm of your hand towards the ceiling. Hold the racquet in your hand and raise your palm towards you. Perform this exercise for three sets of 10 reps. Repeat the exercise holding the racquet with the palm down.
   
You can use that same racquet to get your elbows tennis ready. Standing with your arm bent at the elbow at a 90-degree angle and your palm down, support your arm with your other hand and rotate your palm so it faces up and then down slowly. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions of this exercise.     

All the serves, volleys, forehands, backhands and overhead shots in tennis make it is easy to understand why the shoulder is at risk for overuse injuries. Stretching the front of the chest and back of the shoulder can help improve shoulder posture. Strengthening exercises can also help the shoulder tolerate the demands of repetitive arm movement during tennis. 

The corner stretch is a good shoulder stretch to add to your warm-up routine. Stand in a corner with your forearms resting on the wall, fists at about head level. Keep your elbows below the shoulders. Place one foot forward, alternating between feet. Lean into the wall, hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat four times.

You can lie down for this next shoulder stretch. Lay on your side with your head resting on your shoulder. Keep the elbow bent up at 90 degrees (or perpendicular to the surface you’re lying on). Use the opposite hand to push the arm down. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat four times. Repeat for each shoulder. 

To strengthen the shoulder, place an exercise band around your racquet and a towel roll between your arm and body. Attach the band to a hook or doorknob. Hold the racquet with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Start by holding the racquet at your stomach and rotate your hand out slowly away from your stomach. Then do the exercise with the hand away from your stomach and slowly pull it into your stomach. Pause for a one-two count and perform three sets of 10 reps. Repeat for each shoulder.

To complete your shoulder-strengthening warm-up, grab the band you used in the previous exercise with both hands. With the band attached to a hook or doorknob, pull one hand back towards your hip while the other stays forward. Pause for a one-two count and repeat three sets of 10 reps while alternating arms. As you pull your hand back, squeeze your shoulder down and back.  

These flexibility and strengthening exercises for wrists, elbows and shoulders can help increase your tolerance to the physical demands of tennis. Remember to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

Mercy Health Physicians, as well as physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers and locations of Mercy Health – Cincinnati SportsMedicine & Orthopaedic Center (CSMOC) and a partnership with Wellington Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, comprise The Dream Team. The Dream Team includes 35 doctors practicing from 15 locations in neighborhoods throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

Returning every patient to normal function as quickly, compassionately and safely as possible is the goal of Mercy Health’s Orthopaedics, Spine and Sports Medicine team. Together with physical therapists and athletic trainers, they provide comprehensive orthopaedic care for the foot and ankle, hand, wrist and elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, neck, back, joint replacement and sports-related concussion.

You can meet the team, learn more about their areas of specialty and find their office locations by visiting http://e-mercy.com/orthopaedics-sports-medicine.aspx. To find a Mercy Health physician in your neighborhood, or to learn about the services provided at Mercy Health, please visit http://www.e-mercy.com/physicians.asp or call 513-981-2222.