| By Dr. Charles Ruotolo

Now that the weather has begun to cool down, many tennis players will play less frequently than they have been. The offseason is the perfect time to exercise and strengthen the muscle groups imperative to speed and power. Below are three types of exercises to ensure that you are ready to play next season.

ACL Injury Prevention Exercise
Russian Leg Curl: This exercise is used to strengthen the hamstrings and avoid ACL injuries.
To perform this exercise, it’s best to have a spotter to hold your legs. To start, kneel and line up your hips, torso and shoulders so your body forms a straight line from your knees up. Make sure your elbows are bent and your hands are shoulder high and facing outward and have the spotter firmly hold your ankles. Next, tighten the hamstrings, glutes and abdominals and slowly extend your torso toward the floor without bending forward at the hips and making sure the back is straight. Release the tension as you get a few inches from the floor and then use your palms to push yourself back up to the starting position.

Shoulder Injury Prevention
Internal and External Shoulder Rotation Exercises: These exercises are used to strengthen the four muscles of the rotator cuff and avoid rotator cuff injuries. To perform these exercises, it is best to use a cable tower with enough weight to provide resistance, but not enough to cause strain.

To start, stand with your lifting arm close to the machine with the handle of the cable tower set so that it is parallel to your ribs. Next, with your elbow flexed to 90 degrees, rotate your hand inward toward your belly and hold it for two to three seconds. Then, slowly rotate your elbow outward back to the starting position.

For the external rotation version of this exercise, place your lifting arm further from the cable machine and rotate the hand across the entire body.

Core Strengthening Exercises
Planks and Side Planks: These exercises are used to strengthen the core muscles and to help avoid spinal injuries.

To start this exercise, lay facedown with your feet together and your forearms on the ground shoulder-width apart. Tighten the core muscles and glutes and lift your body off the floor into a straight line from head to toe, balancing your weight on your forearms and toes. Hold this position as long as you can and then return your body to the floor.

For the side plank exercise, lie on your side with one arm bent under your body and the other arm on your hip. Align your head, shoulders, hips and ankles into a straight line and push your body toward the ceiling, while balancing the weight on your arm and foot.

Hold this position as long as you can and then return your body to the floor.

Dr. Charles Ruotolo

<p>Dr. Charles Ruotolo is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and the founder of Total Orthopedics and Sports Medicine with locations in Massapequa, East Meadow and the Bronx, N.Y. Dr. Ruotolo completed his orthopedic residency program at SUNY Stony Brook in 2000. After his residency, he underwent fellowship training in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at the prestigious Sports Clinic of Laguna Hills, Calif. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. As an Associate Master Instructor of Arthroscopy for the Arthroscopy Association of North America, Dr. Ruotolo actively teaches other orthopedic surgeons advanced arthroscopic skills in shoulder surgery. As an avid researcher he has also published multiple articles on shoulder injuries and shoulder surgery in the peer review journals of Arthroscopic Surgery and of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.totalorthosportsmed.com" onclick="window.open(this.href, 'wwwtotalorthosportsmedcom', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">www.totalorthosportsmed.com</a>.</p>