Tips From The ProsImprove Your Game

I don’t feel ready to play when my tennis match starts! What can I do?

Josh IktorMaybe you need a Dynamic Warm-Up Routine.  I find that most athletes don’t warm-up properly or prepare for their sporting activities.  My wife Anneliza is no exception!  Neither are her friends, her opponents, or the other teams that I watch on the nearby tennis courts.  Most people step on the court and immediately begin hitting and running after the ball.  I rarely see much stretching or preparation.  Not only does research show that athletes perform better and reduce their chance for injuries following a dynamic warm up, but even Anneliza (After having changed her ways!) admits that she feels better prepared to play when she makes time for her pre-game routine.

So what is a Dynamic Warm-Up Routine or Dynamic Stretching?  Dynamic stretching involves flexibility during sport specific movements and utilizes speed of movement, as well as other movement patterns.  Dynamic warm-ups usually begin with smaller slower movement patterns and progress to larger movement patterns with a gradual increase in speed and range of motion.  This does not imply that these exercises must be fast or explosive.  The choice of exercises and pace of a dynamic stretching routine depend largely on the sport or activity and the individual’s physical abilities.  Dynamic Stretching greatly increases the temperature of the muscles and soft tissues, muscle pliability, heart rate, and excites the neuromuscular system thereby better preparing you to play.  An example of a dynamic stretching routine may include walking on your toes, walking on your heels, followed by some deep squats, straight leg raises, side bends, arm circles, and some torso rotations.  Generally speaking, dynamic stretching has been proven to better prepare you to perform a given exercise or sport activity than static stretching prior to your activity.

So what are Static Stretches and when do I use them? Static stretches are slow and constant with the end position of the stretch held for approximatley 30 seconds. Static stretching includes the relaxation and simultaneous elongation of the stretched muscle. Static stretching has been proven to effectively increase range of motion. An example of static stretching would be standing on 1 leg while resting the other leg on a bench or chair and reaching forward with both hands towards your foot. Generally speaking, static stretching is most effective when implemented post exercise as it can greatly increase flexibility as a result of already warm and pliable muscle tissues. Unlike dynamic stretches, holding static stretches for extended periods of time will have a greater increase on your flexibility and range of motion.

Josh Itkor   BA, CPT, CSCS

Fitness Consultant / Strength & Conditioning Coach

President / Owner – The Center for Health, Fitness & Sports Performance


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