With Labor Day approaching, tennis will be center stage in New York at the US Open. For some tennis players, it will signal the winding down of their season. However, for others, tennis is a year round activity. Either way, one of the great things about the sport is that it can be played by people of all ages. Staying active is one of the best ways to remain healthy. In this week’s HSS on the Move blog post, Dr. Joshua Dines, Orthopedic Surgeon, is going to provide some tips on maintaining ones tennis game at an older age:
Provide yourself with enough time to warm up and cool down: One of the biggest mistakes amateur players of all ages make is not allocating themselves enough time for warm up and cool down. Prior to match play, make sure to gradually get your heart rate up then stretch all the major muscle groups paying particular attention to your shoulders, back, and legs. At the conclusion of play it is equally as important to stretch and cool down appropriately.
Use the correct equipment: For example, the best racket for Rafael Nadal or Andy Roddick is not necessarily the best racket for a mid-level player in their 60s. Today, there are dozens of racket and string combinations from which to choose. With the help of a professional, one can choose a racket that provides the benefit of increased power and control while at the same time decreasing the stress placed on the athletes shoulder and elbow. Similar principles apply to footwear. Make sure the sneakers you use fit well and provide adequate support. Make sure to change them every six to nine months.
Strength train: One of the best ways to continue playing tennis at an older age is by strength training regularly. Even though tennis isn’t a contact sport like football, workouts that strengthen one’s back, core, legs and shoulders will help prevent injury while at the same time improving one’s strokes.
Take lessons to make sure your technique is good: Another way to prevent injury and improve one’s game is by using good technique on all strokes. Lessons, either individual or in groups, are a great way to make sure you continue to improve as you get older.
Listen to your body: Tennis subjects ones body to the potential of both acute and chronic injuries. Rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, ankle sprains, etc. are amongst the most common injuries. When these injuries do occur, it is critical to treat them appropriately and not return to play before you are completely recovered.
Dr. Joshua Dines is an orthopedic surgeon and a member of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. He is a team doctor for the U.S. Davis cup tennis team, an assistant team physician for the New York Mets and a consultant for the Los Angeles Dodgers.