5 Essential Post Match Stretches for Tennis Players

Novak Djokovic's incredible flexibility helps him stay injury free and hit effective shots on the run.

Novak Djokovic’s incredible flexibility helps him stay injury free and hit effective shots on the run.

So you just finished your second match of the day with more tournament action scheduled for tomorrow morning.  What steps can you take towards recovery?

Arguably the most important action you can take is to sneak in all important cool-down stretch. This will help to ensure that your fatigued muscles do not remain stiff going into the next day of competition. Research has shown that static stretching performed after an activity can often be more important to athletic performance over time than when done before exercise. Yet it is important to get your stretching in very soon after the workout while the muscles are still warm. Below are five of my favorite stretches that you can do even before leaving the courts!
(NOTE: The stretches below should each last a total of 1-3 minutes)

stretch7Elevation Wall Hamstring Stretch
• Start close to a wall or fence lying on your back.
• Extend both legs together up on the wall with the soles of the feet facing up. The tailbone should stay in contact with the ground, and should be right up to where the wall meets the floor. You can enhance this stretch by pressing on the tops of your thighs.

 

stretch6Elevation Wall Gravity Groin Stretch
• Start close to a wall or fence lying on your back.
• Extend both legs up on the wall with the soles of the feet facing up. The tailbone should stay in contact with the ground, and should be right up to where the wall meets the floor.
• Keeping the legs extended, spread the legs as wide as comfortably possible. After a period of time, try to work the feet wider apart. You can enhance this stretch by pressing on the tops of your thighs.

 

stretch4Supine Glute Wall Stretch
• Start close to a wall or fence lying on your back.
• Place one foot up on the wall with the tailbone staying on the ground. If you are a proper distance from the wall the knee of the wall leg will be bent to 90 degrees.
• Place the ankle of your other leg just below the knee of the wall leg. You should feel a stretch near the outside of your hip, and you can enhance this stretch be gently pressing the crossover knee towards the wall.

 

stretch3Supine Low Back Twist
• Start on your back with both legs straight.
• Bend your right knee at 90 degrees and bring it across your body until it touches the floor. Keep your right shoulder on the ground with your right arm extended, looking in that direction.
• Hold this position with slow relaxed breathing, using your left arm to put gentle pressure on the outside of your thigh. Once you are no longer feeling a stretch, you may extend the bent leg, making sure the other leg also stays extended and in line with the spine.
• Repeat on the opposite side.

 

stretch2Sidelying Quad/Hip Flexor stretch
• Lie on your right side with your right leg and right arm extended.
• Flex your left knee, grabbing behind the ankle. Slowly try to work your heel to touch your backside.
• Stay perpendicular to the ground lying on your side and try to keep the hips forward during the stretch.
• Repeat on the opposite side.

 

stretch1BONUS STRETCH: Standing Calf
• Lean forward with arms extended pressing into a wall or fence.
• Place one foot forward with knee bent and foot flat on ground.
• Keep back foot in line with spine and press back to feel a stretch through the lower leg. Keeping the back heel flat on the ground with that knee extended will stretch the proximal calf muscle; bending the back knee and lifting the heel will stretch lower.

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Author CHRIS BORGARD is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and exercise physiologist who has served as an intern coach in both professional football and baseball for the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, and Oakland Athletics.  He has also worked as a college strength & conditioning coach, training numerous NCAA All-Americans, Olympians and Trials qualifiers in track & field, cross country, and tennis.  Chris earned his master’s degree in Kinesiology at Cal Poly, where he taught exercise physiology and group exercise classes.  He has designed rehab programs for ATP Tour tennis professionals, while also privately training minor league baseball players and elite members of the Asics Aggies professional running club.  Recently, Chris has led ongoing research investigating athletes’ use of sports drinks, along with body composition and metabolism research, and is currently working with a Cal Poly nutrition professor to engineer a collegiate performance nutrition program.

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