Week 9: Warming up with Yoga for Tennis
It is common knowledge that a proper warm-up before tennis is important, but how often are you running late for practice or a match and when you get there you do some of “these” (holding your foot to your rear end to stretch your quads) and some of “those” (arm across your chest to stretch your shoulder) because you were taught these stretches way back in high school.
In Week 1 you learned about the common injuries in tennis which included acute injuries such as sprains and pulls and chronic injuries of the shoulder and low back. How many of these injuries could be prevented if only a proper warmup had been implemented?
You may decide to ditch those stretches and start setting the time aside to give yourself a proper pre-court warm-up once you understand the purpose of warming up before you hit the courts. Warming up the body in all directions of movement is important since tennis is considered a multi-directional sport. Therefore, movements done forward to back, side to side and across the body are important elements to a good warm up program.
Purpose of Pre-Court Warm-ups
to increase the body’s temperature to prepare it for work
warms up the muscles and joints
by increasing the body’s temperature it means the muscles will have to stretch further before being torn
Adding yoga in addition to a dynamic warm up gives you additional benefits that can give you the performance advantage in your match.
prepares the body for pre-court warm-up
prepares the mind for the event and helps reduce prematch anxiety
connects your breath to your movement
These movements, courtesy of The Institute of Yoga Sports Science®, can be completed in about 5-7 minutes prior to your dynamic court warmup. Most importantly, pay attention to your breath and how you use it to move you through your movements. The more connected your breath is to your movement, the more fluid your body will become. I recommend you completing this sequence in its order but you can also use any movement by itself.
Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your eyes closed. Place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest.
Movement: If you recall from Week 5 on breathing, we did this exercise in a seated position. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath and notice which hand rises and falls as you breathe. Begin to bring your breath into your right hand and feel it rise as you inhale and descend as you exhale. Continue with this for a few minutes as you focus on counting your breath — this will give your mind something tangible to focus on so you stay in the present moment.
2. Lower Back Release
Starting Position: Lie on your back raise your knees off the ground.
Movement: Place one hand on each knee. Gently rock your knees to the right and left. As your knees go towards the right let your chin roll towards your left collar bone. Repeat 5-7 times each direction
Tip: Link the movement with your inhale and exhale. You may just need to go very slow in the beginning to be able to practice.
3. Rotating Feet & Hips
Starting Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet away from the body. Heals on the floor, toes lifted.
Movement: Begin to move both feet in a circular motion to the right for 5 times. Repeat to the left for 5 times.
Transition - Hug your knees back into your chest and roll to one side and come up to hands and knees.
Starting Position: Kneel on your hands and knees. Place your hands with your wrist below your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
Movement: As you exhale round your spine in a C like shape letting your head relax and hang towards the floor. Inhale - let your belly drop, tailbone lifts and chest lifts as you bring your chin parallel to the floor. Continue with this motion, exhaling as you round your spine and inhale as you extend. You can add circular motions with the hips as well or any other movement that feels right to you. Repeat 5-10 times.
Tip: Take this movement slowly, integrating your breath, and you will discover that you won’t push further than your body needs today.
Transition - Stand up slowly
5. Angel Wings
Starting Position: Stand with your knees slightly bent and shoulders relaxed, place your finger tips on your collar bones.
Movement: Inhale - lift your sternum and elbows towards the sky. Exhale - release shoulders and release elbows down beginning a circular motion backwards with your elbows. Repeat 5-10 times.
Tip: Practice integrating your breath — inhale as your elbows lift up and exhale as they release down.
6. Body Hug
Starting Position: Stand with your knees slightly bent and shoulders relaxed, arms open out to the sides at shoulder level.
Movement: Inhale - lift your chest and chin, open your arms wide. Exhale - wrap your right arm under your left arm and take both arms around to the back of your body giving yourself a hug. Feel the skin on your back expanding. Repeat this movement 3-5 times.
Standing ease-fully, shake your arms and legs out and release any additional tension in your body.
A Dynamic Warm-up can consist of the following movements (you can find these on the web):
Jogging - forward and backward with arm circles
Cross over steps
Lunges with a twist
Shadowing tennis movements