This article is specific to tennis but the exercises below for your rotator cuff, wrists, and forearms will help build strength and protect your muscles in any sport that you do.
Tennis places uneven demands on the body. You predominantly swing with one arm and are twisting one side of the body. Certain muscle groups are overworked while others are neglected. Overuse injuries are more likely to occur in an unbalanced physique. In sports like tennis and golf, overuse injuries of the wrist, elbow and rotator cuff muscles are all too common. Most weight training exercises predominantly target the larger muscles groups. So while they get stronger and stronger, the smaller, more isolated muscles get neglected.
That doesn’t normally cause a problem until you expose your body to hundreds of repetitive movements that incorporate the larger AND the smaller muscle groups – like a forehand or serving motion. As the strength in your larger muscle group increases, you will hit harder and harder shots, but you will also place the finer muscles under a disproportionate amount of stress.
The best way to stop injuries from happening is to target and isolate those smaller muscle groups before they become over-worked. By adding a few exercises for the forearm, wrist, and rotator cuff muscles to your tennis strength training program, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of stress injuries in these areas.
For your wrists and forearms, use small weights and practice curling your wrist. Get on your knees and rest your forearms on a bench. Start with 3-5lb weights. Have your palms face down and bend your wrist towards you (10-15 reps) – make sure your forearms stay on the bench; have your palms face each other with your thumbs pointing to the sky and bend your wrist towards you. (10-15) reps. Have your palms facing the sky and curl your wrist towards you (10-15 reps).
For your rotator cuff, use a band or a SMALL weight and work on both internal and external rotation. Rotator cuff exercises can be performed lying down or standing up, but it is very important that you make sure your elbow stays glued to your side so you can isolate the rotator cuff.
Give me a call if you have any questions, and I can help you put together simple routine that will strengthen these muscles and protect them from injury.