Cause and effect of tennis injuries: Injury culture

As far as tennis goes, we all know injuries come with the territory.

Sharapova had shoulder surgery. (Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lum)

Sharapova had shoulder surgery. (Photo courtesy of Cynthia Lum)

Tennis is a year-round sport. There is no “off season,” and high performance and athletic prowess are not only required for years upon years by the athletes themselves, but also demanded by their fans.

With my personal experience (which, granted has been worst than most) I find the culture surrounding injuries in modern tennis interesting. In a sport that puts the human body under extreme strain, injuries are prevalent, yet the response from the world is usually less than understanding. This is not always the case, but often: If you’re playing injured you’re criticized for mentioning it because it’s seen as creating an excuse for poor performance or loss. If you’re playing injured and don’t mention it, then have a bad performance because of that injury, you’re criticized for playing horrible tennis. If you’re not playing because you’re injured, it’s common to get criticized about whether you’re not being tough enough or why your recovery is taking so long.

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Jump Start Your Spring Workout

Now that winter has officially ended and the sun is out, the warm weather is the perfect motivation to get out and get moving. Since graduating college almost two years ago (where has the time gone?!), I went from playing 4 hours a day of tennis to 1 hour a day. I have had my ups and downs when it comes to working out after graduating. I had a bout with spin classes (so much fun and so much sweat!) and a bout with eating out and drinking wine (we are in wine country, I can’t help it!). However, I found a new motivation a couple weeks ago. It’s called Mud Mash X, a 10-mile obstacle course that is not for the faint of heart and, you guessed it, includes mud! I was hooked by the mud run craze after completing a 5K Warrior Dash two weeks ago with fellow TW playtesters Siobhan and Jason.

Jason, Siobhan and I at Warrior Dash

Now that the Mud Mash X is 5 weeks away, I have put in 1 week of training and let me tell you it is not easy. I do have a background in long distance running and have completed 2 half marathons in the past so I know how to get in running shape. Besides the weather, what are some good motivations to go out and go? Here is my list to get me through the tough days:

1)    New music- adding some new fast paced music to my iPod always helps

2)    Workout with buddies- I tend to hold myself more accountable to run/hike when I have set up a date with a friend. I even don’t mind my friends with bad knees riding a bike next to me!

3)    Setting a goal- mine is the Mud Mash X!

4)    New workout clothes- nothing beats it!

And luckily, Tennis Warehouse has gotten in a new crop of training and workout clothes that I am absolutely drooling over. The first outfit is the adidas Summer adiStripe Tank and adidas Summer Blitz short. I love the summery feel of the striped tank matched, and with the sporty short, it’s perfect for a long run or tennis clinic.

adidas Summer adiStripe Tank and adidas Summer Blitz Shorts

The next outfit can be found in the Puma section. The Puma Summer Faas Tank comes in two bright colors with a bonus of being reversible so you get two different color shirts in one. Pair the tank with the Puma Summer Faas Short, which is perfect for a yoga class or practice match!

Puma Summer Faas Tank and Short

Under Armour is known for its workout clothes and doesn’t let us down in the tennis department. One of my favorite shorts – the Under Armour Spring Play It Up Short is a loose short that’s perfect for a weekend hike or private tennis lesson. Match it with the Under Armour Spring Tech Sleeveless Tank to complete the look.

Under Armour Spring Tech Sleeveless Tank and Under Armour Spring Play It Up Short

Lastly, by the end of your workout kick, you will want to show off your body. Head toward the Nike Training section for a variety of workout bras and shorts and skorts. Combine the Nike Summer Racerback Bra with the Nike Summer Woven Skort to use for a beach run or throw on a Nike Summer Legend Tank to be tournament ready!

Nike Summer Racerback Bra, Nike Summer Summer Woven Skort, and Nike Summer Legend Tank

What do you like working out in?

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Get flexible with the Athlete Stretch Strap

Fine. OK. Since we’re being honest, I will admit that when it comes to stretching I have not always been the most disciplined. Old habits die hard, and you could in fact say, that as a youth, I hated stretching. My flexibility has always been varied. I can touch my toes easily, but my hips are like steel rods. So stretching always consisted of a quick quad stretch, calves, achilles. Maybe sit on the ground and stretch my butt or hamstrings but in terms of quality or quantity? It was neither. Stretching is like flossing. I know it’s good for me. I know it’s going to help me be healthier. Growing up, my parents used to yell at me for not doing it. You could even offer me incentives for doing it, and I still wouldn’t want to. It was just one of those things. It took ages, it was uncomfortable and because I was playing so much tennis and was always tight, it took a lot of effort for very little payback. I even unwittingly signed up for a yoga class in my freshman year of college and spent the entire time either in serious amounts of pain because I couldn’t cross my legs like a normal person, or asleep on my yoga mat. The solution? The Athlete Stretch Strap.

Athlete Stretch Strap

With age comes wisdom, a general tolerance for things I previously hated and the realization that my back pain (I have a chronic lumbar injury) is greatly reduced with stretching. This is where the Athlete Stretch Strap comes in. I think a lot of people are discouraged because if it’s hard to touch your toes, then where do you even start without being in a lot of pain? Yeah, we all want to do everything we can to be better athletes or tennis players, but the level of discipline needed to consistently stretch is pretty high. The Stretch Strap simplifies everything. It really works as an extension of your arms, with convenient loop holes that cater to the measurements of any athlete.

The Athlete Stretch Strap is great for both before and after practice, as an injury prevention tool or recovery aid. What I like most about it is that it can be an aid for really getting into your stretches and pushing yourself or as a way to gently stretch areas that are otherwise really hard and painful to reach. It’s particularly good for stretching legs while lying on the ground, but it’s also good for arms and back while standing up too. It has loop holes along its whole length so it’s adjustable to whatever stretch or level of difficulty you’re looking for.

Examples of just one of the ways to use the Athlete Stretch Strap

As with most of my favorite products, these come in different colors: blue and the ever-so-feminine pink. The Athlete Stretch Strap is definitely one of those products that, with a little bit of commitment to a greater cause (your flexibility), makes a mundane and annoying task really that much easier. The joy of it is that it’s not limited to a certain type of person. Use one as a way to help with your regular stretch routine or as a way to increase general flexibility for greater well-being. It’s hard not to sound like a commercial going on about the benefits of this product so let’s put it this way: Stretching makes you feel great, can reduce pain or (hopefully) prevent injury. So do it. Want to make stretching easier? Use the Athlete Stretch Strap.

If you’ve been a slacker like me, find stretching never gets you anywhere or, I’ll just say it because I’ve been there, are just plain ol’ lazy, then heed my advice: take it from the stiffest, previously-most-stretch-lazy Kiwi in the US. The Athlete Stretch Strap is worth it. And the sense of achievement you feel when you can do basic movement without hurting? Worth it, mate.