Stretching is crucial for tennis players to maintain flexibility and prevent injuries. It's also proven that the most dominant tennis players have incredible flexibility and as a result rarely become injured.
Here are five of the best stretches for tennis players:
Shoulder Stretch: Tennis players use their shoulders extensively and an injury can be long term and difficult to repair. To stretch the shoulders, stand or sit with your back straight, then extend one arm across your chest and gently hold it with your opposite hand. Hold the stretch for about 15-30 seconds on each side.
Quadriceps Stretch: The quadriceps are essential for powerful leg movement. Stand on one leg, bend your knee, and bring your heel towards your buttocks. Hold your ankle with your hand and gently pull it closer. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds on each leg.
Hamstring Stretch: The hamstrings are also heavily used in tennis. Sit on the ground with one leg extended and the other bent so that the sole of your foot is against your inner thigh. Reach forward toward your toes while keeping your back straight. Hold for 15-30 seconds on each leg.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Tennis involves a lot of lateral movements and quick changes of direction, which can strain the hip flexors. Kneel on one knee and push your hips forward while keeping your back straight. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for 15-30 seconds on each side.
Calf Stretch: Good calf flexibility is crucial for quick and powerful movement on the court. Stand facing a wall with your hands against it. Step one foot back, keeping it straight, and press the heel into the floor. You should feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 15-30 seconds on each leg.
BONUS STRETCH: Seated glute stretch. The seated glute stretch involves sitting on the floor with one leg crossed over the other, hugging the bent knee with the opposite arm, and gently twisting the torso towards the bent leg. This stretch targets the glutes of the bent leg and should be held for 15-30 seconds on each side. This stretch is especially beneficial to prevent lower back injury from serving.
For exercises to prevent lower back pain and strengthen the lower back see here.
HOT TIP: Remember to perform these stretches gently and not force your muscles. Warm up with some light aerobic exercise before stretching to increase blood flow and make your muscles more pliable.
P.S. To improve your overall movement on the court, check out Clay Active's range of tennis socks. Our Retro Court tennis sock series is a dedicated court sock that we built from the ground up to withstand high intensity movement and support the foot inside your shoe. Our Shapes crew socks are a general sport sock but overall have excellent performance for the requirements of tennis.
All socks are made in Australia, are extremely comfortable and super durable. They last incredibly well. See here for more.
It's also a good idea to consult with a sports trainer or physical therapist for personalised advice on stretching and injury prevention based on your individual needs and any existing injuries.