There are two simple rules in relation to arm health and injury prevention in tennis players: Strength and mobility of the fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders. Mobility and stability go hand-in-hand. By increasing mobility, along with strength, you will have the ability to increase the velocity of your serve, endurance and ensure long-term arm health. Strengthening distal (fingers) to proximal (shoulder) goes a long way to the health of one’s elbow and shoulder.
►The hands of a tennis player are doing work the whole time they are holding a racket, returning a ball and serving. Grip strength and flexibility of each finger is important. By properly strengthening the hand muscles, you can help prevent UCL injuries and tennis elbow. Strengthening and stretching of the fingers, wrists and forearms can give you that edge you might be missing. After strengthening each finger, hands and wrists properly, we must stretch them.
►Moving up the chain are the muscles to the elbow joint. The body needs to have balance between opposing muscle groups. The bicep muscle needs to be able to stretch very quickly when serving or hitting a ball. The bicep muscle also needs to be strong enough to handle the force that the triceps are putting on the elbow joint to help with elbow health. Strengthening both the triceps and biceps can contribute to increased velocity, endurance, and the overall health of one’s elbow and shoulder.
►Starting to strengthen and stretch at the fingers and moving to the shoulder will allow the arm muscles to improve properly. Strengthening the shoulder properly in all ranges is important for increased performance, as well as health. Stretching the shoulder is vital because of how aggressive the movement of hitting is. Muscles are contracting and relaxing so quickly, if not properly warmed up, it is very easy to injure any part of the chain if not all moving properly.
Proper strengthening and stretching and proper mobility is important for the whole body. Every person has strengths and weaknesses unique to the individual, and figuring out how to improve those weaknesses is key to success. A screening can help to see what muscles need to be worked on. Some may need increased mobility, others may need strengthening, and most need both.