Strengthening up specific areas of our bodies can help prevent many tennis related injuries. Stability, Strength and flexibility play the biggest part in reducing the risk of spending time off court. Strengthening the smaller “stabilising muscles” around joints can eliminate a lot of joint related tennis injuries e.g. tendinitis. Muscle tissue strength helps prevent muscle tears and connective tissue injuries by providing a more robust athlete, the stronger the muscle tissue the more resilient it will it be. Having the flexibility capacity to get into certain positions, more positions and utilise more muscle is what you need to prevent flexibility related injuries (muscle tears, overuse injuries etc.)
Due to the physical complexity (strength, stability, flexibility, agility, power, high aerobic capacity etc.) as players we need to deal with and given the time constraints most players have. More often than not our recovery and injury prevention regimes get put at the back of the line. This opens us up for the possibility of injury. We tend to go straight for what we feel will boost performance over what will keep us playing longer and feeling better on court.
One heavily neglected area for most players is the forearm muscles.
Forearm muscles link directly to your hand and fingers; this alone shows you how important getting them strong is. Specific forearm exercises are something you should perform on a weekly basis. For tennis athletes they play a vital role in - grip strength, racket control, force absorption. From an injury perspective having good forearm strength reduces the risk of elbow and wrist injuries.
The stronger and more robust the forearm, the more support and protection the wrist and elbow get. This is due to the fact that most wrist and elbow injuries are overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are generally associated with an over worked muscle/joint, weak muscle/group of muscles and fatigue. This leads to tears in connective tissue, causing pain, inflammation and weakness.
Brachioradialis - The muscles of the forearm that flex the forearm at the elbow. The brachioradialis helps support the elbow and plays important role in the kick back on the serve.
Flexors - Forearm flexors are a group of muscles found on the underside of the forearm. They are responsible for the flexion of the wrist and fingers. They also play a vital role in gripping and squeezing the hand.
Extensors - A group of muscles located on top of the forearm. They are involved with wrist extension and also wrist abduction and adduction (moving the hand side to side)
Implementing Tennis Forearm Exercises into your program will have a large impact on many levels, by;
Players are always amazed how much of a difference they feel when we implement these Tennis Forearm Exercises into their routine. We often get feedback like “I have so much more control at the net” “I can do more with my serve now” “I can feel my racket better on contact” “I have more finesse and softer hands when needed” “My arm doesn’t feel tired and numb during long matches”
You might be someone who has never trained your forearms or done it consistently.
Check out some introductory Tennis Forearm Exercises to get you on your way. We have found the best approach is to get players to do the exercises post practice. What this does, is fatigues the forearm muscles once they have already been pre fatigued, it finishes them off. This ensures you have the longest recovery time before your next hit. It also saves you having to train them at another time, so it doesn’t cut into your training.
To help you out even more - Here is a video with some additional exercises you could introduce into your program.