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               YOUR LIMITS
               Adding movement to the
                                                                                                                                                                                               PLAYER TIPS:
               pre-match stretching
                                                                                                                                                                                               Warming Up the Trouble Spots
               routine is the best way                                                                                                                                                         Every tennis player has his or her own unique areas that can cause pain. In gen-
               to prepare for tennis.                                                                                                                                                          eral, though, some potential trouble spots that should be routinely stretched,
                                                                                                                                                                                               either in the dynamic warm-up before a match or in the cool-down period after
                                                                                                                                                                                               play, include the hamstrings, lower back, calves, hips, flexors and shoulders.

                          ANG AROUND ANY TENNIS COURT—                                                  stretching routine or physical activity.)                                                   If after play, perform three to five static stretches, held for 15 to 30 seconds,
                          whether at a public park, private facility,                                       A dynamic stretching warm-up                                                       for each muscle group. Don’t stretch too much after a hard workout or match;
                          school, college, or even a pro tournament—and                                 will preserve your muscles’ ability to                                                 you only need to stretch to the point where you feel tension in the muscle.
               you’ll most likely see players stretching various parts of                               generate power and prepare your body
               their bodies in preparation for a match. But did you know                                 for playing tennis because it will:                                                  includes three short routines that emphasize dif-
               that certain types of stretching before play actually can reduce                                                                                                               ferent aspects of stretching and movement:
               the amount of power your muscles generate and negatively affect                               >> Increase your body’s tem-                                                     forward/backward movement, lateral movement and multi-                                    five minutes of a light general warm-up activity, such as jogging
               your performance?                                                                             perature, causing the muscles to                                                 directional movement. In addition, you can easily create your own                         or riding a stationary bike. Exercises don’t need to be performed
                   That’s right. In many instances, the stretching that most of us                              contract more efficiently and                                                 dynamic stretching warm-up routines to address your specific                              on a tennis court, and you should not rest long between exer-
               grew up doing right before playing a tennis match—static                                           generate greater force.                                                     needs or target weak areas determined by you or your coach                                cises—15 to 30 seconds should be enough. The idea is to gradually
               stretches where a muscle is put under light tension and held for 15                                                                                                            or trainer.                                                                               increase movements that will mirror what your body and muscles
               to 30 seconds—may not actually be helping our tennis games.                                         >> Prime the cardiovas-                                                       Ideally, a dynamic warm-up for tennis should follow three to                           go through in a match. After the dynamic warm-up, do some
               That said, static stretching is still important, but more appropri-                                cular system by getting the                                                                                                                                                    light hitting before getting into all-out play.
               ate after you play.                                                                       heart and lungs ready to engage in                                                                                                                                                          “Any type of routine you design does not have to be
                   What tennis players need to do before they play, says Mark                       vigorous activity.                                                                                                                                                                           overly complicated or long,” notes Verstegen. “But
               Verstegen, president of Athletes’ Performance, is something                                                                                                                                                                                                                       adding this type of variety will help keep your pre-com-
               called “dynamic stretching.”                                                  >> Actively elongate muscles, which will                                                                                                                                                            petition or pre-practice warm-up fun and enjoyable.”
                   “It’s essentially stretching with movement, and it represents a         improve the joints’ range of motion and the body’s                                                                                                                                                        And don’t forget to cool down after you finish playing
               new way of preparing the body to play tennis,” adds Verstegen,             ability to handle the forces experienced during play.                                                                                                                                                  or practicing. “We still recommend static stretching for
               who introduces dynamic stretching—including various warm-                                                                                                                                                                                                                         all tennis players,” says Scott Riewald, Ph.D., Sports
               up and movement routines—in a new DVD from the USTA                       >> Help to ingrain proper movement patterns,                                                                                                                                                            Science administrator for USA Tennis High
               called “Dynamic Tennis Warm-Ups” (available for purchase                leading to better on-court performance.                                                                                                                                                                   Performance in Key Biscayne, Fla. “But it’s more appro-
               from Human Kinetics at www.humankinetics.com).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    priate after play.” Static stretching after playing or
                   Basically, dynamic stretching warms up the body and                >> Wake up the nervous system and get the brain                                                                                                                                                            practicing will help a player maintain flexibility and
                                                                                                                                                                   CARYN LEVY, MARY SCHILPP
               involves movement that gradually increases reach, speed of            talking to the muscles, which allows the muscles to                                                                                                                                                         joint range of motion, decrease muscle soreness and may
               movement, or both. It consists of controlled leg, arm and             work more efficiently.                                                                                                                                                                                      lower the risk of injury.
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               torso movements that gently take you to the limits of your                A five- to 10-minute dynamic stretching warm-up                                                                                                                                                             Warming up properly with dynamic stretches before
               range of motion. (Make sure you consult your doctor or                    should be performed before every practice and compe-                                                                                                                                                    you play, then cooling down with static stretching after
               health and fitness professional before engaging in any                       tition. The “Dynamic Tennis Warm-Ups” DVD                                                                                                                                                            the match, will help you play your best every time you
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 step on the court.                      —Peter Francesconi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For more information on stretching, log onto the High
                                   “Stretching is very important, especially as we age. It keeps                                                                                                                                                                                                  Performance website, www.highperformance.usta.com.
                                   your back healthy, and it decreases the chance of injury and                                                                                                                                                                                                   In addition, a pamphlet, “The USA Tennis Guide to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dynamic & Static Stretching,” is available through
                                   soreness.”                              —Fitness expert Denise Austin

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