Let’s Play Safe

As the weather gets nicer, most people are starting to head outdoors and either return to or start a new activity. Cycling, tennis, kayaking, hiking – all popular summer activities that we can’t wait to get back too when the sun comes out again.


To participate in any sporting activity, whether recreational or competitive, you must be prepared. Picking up a tennis racket, golf club or hitting the hiking trails for the first time in the season requires some consideration:

tennis squirrel

1) Am I physically ready or capable of this activity? Be honest. If you haven’t done any activity since last summer, you will need to take it slow otherwise injury is likely to occur. Getting off the couch for the first tennis game and playing for 2-3 hours just might land you in the physio therapists’ or doctor’s office. And, even if you have been active and working out, this is a new activity at the beginning of a season, so start slowly and build.


2) What are the requirements of this activity? All of our summer activities whether it be tennis, golf, kayaking, etc. all have a set of skills and muscular requirments. For those of you that are already involved in a well balance strength and conditioning program, it may not be too much of an issue. For those that aren’t training, this will indeed be an issue. Activities such as golf and tennis can put a tremendous demand on lower back, shoulders, knees (tennis especially) and core muscles.

golf swing

3) What should I do before I play tennis, golf, etc.? A warm up is essential for all these activites. You are going to ask your body to perform movements with speed and power. Starting a game of golf or tennis without an adequate warm up is an injury waiting to happen.

If we look specifically at the game of tennis, you will see what muscles are involved in just a few of the movements required – the backhand, the serve, and the overhead. As you scroll through, you will note that most of the major muscles of the body are required in the game of tennis. And all of these movements need to be done quickly with speed and power.

tennis overhand

Muscles Used In The One-Handed Backhand Volley And Drive:

Action Muscles Used
Push-Off: Soleus, gastrocnemius, quadriceps, gluteals
Trunk Rotation: Obliques, spinal erectors
Backhand Swing: Rhomboids and middle trapezius, posterior deltoid, middle deltoid, shoulder external rotators, triceps, serratus anterior

Muscles Used In The Serve And Overhead:

Action Muscles Used
Trunk Rotation: Obliques, spinal erectors
Knee And Hip Extension Before Impact: Quadriceps, gluteals
Arm Swing: Pectorals, shoulder interior rotators, latissimus dorsi, triceps
Arm Extension: Triceps
Wrist Flexion: Wrist flexon

Some of the more common sites for injury with tennis are:

Back (overuse from transferring forces)
Shoulder (rotator cuff tears)
Knee (overuse and stress on the patella)
Ankle (ligaments in the ankle)
Elbow (degenerative changes in tendon base and splintering of tendon fibers)
Leg (muscle tears)
Wrist (overuse of ligaments)

There are several things you can do to prevent injuries, in whatever activity you undertake this summer:

Warm-up/Cool-down – perform a complete warm up of all major muscle groups.
Flexibility/Mobility – mobility drills should be done as part of your warm up. Stretches should be done after the activity has finished.
Strength Training
Conditioning – aerobic/anaerobic
Sport Biomechanics – seek out instruction as to the proper form for your chosen activity. You will not only help prevent injury, you will enjoy the activity even more.

Warm Up:
Needs to be dynamic: Arm swings, leg swings, lunges, T-spine rotations, mobility drills for hips, ankles.

If you are unfamiliar with what necessitates a warm up, please ask by leaving a comment on this blog or seek out the services of a fitness professional to assist in the design not only of a strength and conditioning program, but a warm up as well.

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