Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Know Your Alphabet for Stronger Shoulders

The repetitive nature of tennis puts your body under severe stresses, which can result in overuse injuries.  The most common sites for these injuries are the knees, ankles, lower back, elbows, and shoulders.  A tennis strength and conditioning program focuses on decreasing the possibility of injuries in these areas and improving and perfecting tennis biomechanics.
Shoulder injuries are especially common because the muscles surrounding the shoulder are relatively small and under constant repetitive stresses.  Due to the large range of motion in the shoulder, the ligaments alone cannot provide enough stability through all planes of movement.  In a healthy shoulder, stabilization is provided by the rotator cuff muscles.  In tennis, and most of our daily lives, the internal rotators are overused and therefore very tight.  The external rotators are often underused and very weak.  Strengthening the external rotators will help decrease shoulder injuries and improve your tennis game.
Because the external rotators are very small muscles, I recommend using no weight or very little weight for these shoulder exercises.  These three exercises are progressions of the same exercise. Start by only working on the Ts.  After those become easy, work on the Ys, and later, on the Is.  All three exercises are done lying face down on a bench or on the floor. 
video
Ts: Lying face down, position your arms at a 90-degree angle to your body, so that you look like a T when viewed from above.  Rotate your shoulders so that thumbs are pointing up towards the ceiling.  Squeeze your shoulder blades in towards your spine, and, while keeping your arms straight, raise your arms up towards the ceiling.  Let your arms drop, and then repeat.  Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
video
Ys:  Lying face down, position your arms so that you look like a Y when viewed from above.  Rotate your shoulders so that your thumbs are pointing up towards the ceiling.  Squeeze your shoulder blades in and downward towards your mid back spine, and, while keeping your arms straight, raise your arms up towards the ceiling.  Let your arms drop, and then repeat.  Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
video
Is:  Lying face down, position your arms so that you look like an I when viewed from above.  Rotate your shoulders so that your thumbs are pointing up towards the ceiling.  Squeeze your shoulder blades in and downward towards your mid back spine, and, while keeping your arms straight, raise your arms up towards the ceiling.  Let your arms drop, and then repeat.  Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

Incorporating these exercises two to three times weekly is the first step to improving your tennis game.  Developing and implementing a strength and conditioning program 2-3 times weekly is tantamount to continuing to play tennis as you get older with less interruptions for injuries.
           Viktoria Brautigam MS, CSCS is a personal trainer with 12 years of experience preventing and post-rehabing injuries, improving performance on and off the court, and weight management.  Contact viktoria@fitathletic.com for more information.

No comments:

Post a Comment