Injury Prevention On and Off the Court

Information from THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE on injury prevention, as presented by Dinara Sharipova to Nassau Tennis Club’s Professional Staff:

Every workout must start with a warm-up and a cool-down.

A warm-up is necessary to prepare the body for exercise by increasing heart rate and blood flow to working muscles.

The warm-up should start slow and easy and consist of a general cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging or biking. The goal is to break a sweat. After five to 10 minutes, the warm-up should focus on muscles and movements more specific to the exercise activity planned. Creating a smooth transition from the warm-up to a specific activity is a great way to prevent injuries.

Flexibility exercises are an essential part of every good warm-up. Once the muscles are warm, they become more elastic and are ready to be stretched. You may choose to perform static stretches (by holding each position for 10-30 seconds), or perform dynamic stretches (by moving the body through a functional range of motion). Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort. Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch. Flexibility prepares the muscles, tendons and joints for work by allowing them to move freely through a full active range of motion. The more prepared the body is, the less likely it is to get injured.

An area that often gets ignored is the cool-down after activity. Just as the warm-up prepares the body for work, the cool down brings it back to its normal state. Time spent performing five to 10 minutes of low-intensity cardiovascular activity followed by stretching immediately after the workout will decrease muscle soreness and aid in recovery, both of which help to prepare the body for the next workout.

Rest is a critical component to any good workout routine and time spent allowing the body to recover is a great way to prevent injuries. A rest day must occur at least one to two times per week. Even small breaks during a workout are sometimes required to get the most out of the workout and prevent injuries.

A healthy, well-balanced diet can aid in injury prevention as well. A poor diet can lead to muscle weakness, decreased muscle strength and endurance. Equally important is maintaining hydration throughout the day, during and after your workout.

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