Tennis and Muscle Imbalances

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by BluDiamond, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. BluDiamond

    BluDiamond Semi-Pro

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    Does anyone know how pro players generally workout in order to even out the non-dominant side?

    I've noticed from playing tennis from a young age (and probably not doing as much work off-court as I should be) that my left lat is noticeable smaller and my shoulders don't seem to be the same height either.

    Even when I'm doing pullups/pressups it still feels as if my right side is dominant, does anyone have any recommendations/advice apart from doing twice as many reps on my left side compared to the right?
     
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  2. El Diablo

    El Diablo Hall of Fame

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    Who said pro players do anything to even things out? Ever notice that Laver's left forearm was about twice the size of his right? Likewise many current players, though the popularity of 2HBH means that for most players no arm is relegated merely to the ball toss.
     
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  3. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Posture of the Scapulas

    The arm and scapula (shoulder blade) are attached together by the rotator cuff as an assembly. That assembly is attached to the body by many muscles that attach to the scapula. To do balancing exercises the motions and muscles should be identified and strengthened by balanced exercises, equal weights and reps. Some exercises emphasize flexibility and endurance and may involve only small weights/forces.

    Since many people might not know how to strengthen, for example, the Rhomboids or Serratus Anterior, it takes some research. The posture of the most sport active scapula should be compared to the other scapula. That takes expertise. Search - scapula posture

    [​IMG]

    Shoulder injuries to baseball pitchers are often attributed to scapular posture and imbalances. Corrections involve specialized exercises such as the Blackburn exercises to align, strengthen and build endurance for the scapular muscles such as the Rhomboids. The Rhomboids are interior to the mid trapizeus and don't show that much.

    Just exercising without a posture evaluation and understanding the muscle functions may cause problems.

    Probably the Throwers Ten is a good general program and a book such as Complete Conditioning fro Tennis, Roetert, Ellenbecker, would provide some generally good information on exercises and stretches. Keep in mind that you may have a serious imbalance that a well qualified Dr or physical therapist might be able to see.

    Discussion of a few common imbalances not necessarily specific to tennis.
    http://www.duffyfitness.com/articles-four-most-common.html

    This Todd Ellenbecker video discusses shoulder anatomy and at minute 8 has important advice on shoulder orientation for the serve.
    http://www.tennisresources.com/index.cfm?area=video_detail&vidid=3712&ATT=&reso=hi
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
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  4. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Great question.

    This issue is specifically addressed on Sports Fitness Advisor, Tennis Training Section:
    "Phase 1 - Foundational Tennis Strength Training
    The objective of this 6 week phase is to build a solid base on which you build more intense, more tennis-specific fitness later.

    Like all competitive sports, tennis places uneven demands on the body. You swing with one arm and one side of the body. Certain muscle groups are overworked while others are neglected.

    Infamous over-use injuries like tennis elbow and damage to the rotator cuff muscles are less likely to occur in a balanced physique.

    So our goal during this first phase is to prepare the ligaments, tendons and connective tissue for more strenuous activity to follow."
    - http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/tennis-strength-training.html

    Click on the above site to get the specifics of the recommended exercise, and number of sets and repetitions, and how to proceed on to other phases of strengthening for tennis.



    You'll also notice the other area of emphasis during all phases of training is the following:

    "Special Considerations in Tennis Strength Training


    In sports like tennis and golf, overuse injuries of the wrist, elbow and rotator cuff muscles are all too common.

    Most weight training exercises predominantly target the larger muscles groups. So while they get stronger and stronger, the smaller, more isolated muscles get neglected...

    That doesn't normally cause a problem until you expose your body to thousands of repetitive movements that incorporate the larger AND the smaller muscle groups - like a forehand drive for example.

    So while you hit harder and harder shots (as the strength in your large muscles groups increases), those finer muscles are placed under a disproportionate amount of stress.

    The best way to compensate for this is to target and isolate those smaller muscle groups before they become over-worked.

    By adding a few choice exercises for the forearm and rotator cuff muscles to your tennis strength training program, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of stress injuries in these areas.

    You can start these exercises at any time or phase during the entire program. You can perform them at the end of a session or for 10-15 minutes on separate days.

    Click here for some specific forearm, wrist and rotator cuff exercises http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/rotator-cuff-exercises.html "




    But even though the above forearm, wrist and rotator cuff exercises are good, the most complete and BEST set of exercises for the entire arm is the Thrower's Ten Exercise Program: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/pdf/main/athletics/athletic_training/throwers10.pdf
     
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  5. BluDiamond

    BluDiamond Semi-Pro

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    Thanks everyone, the rotator cuff exercises sound like a good idea. I took a rest from tennis for a few days as I was having problems on impact while hitting serves and I've been told to add some rotator cuff exercises to my routine.

    The 'Thrower's Ten" programme also seems popular so I'll give that a try at some point too - finding the time to do all this is the hard part though!
     
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  6. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    I'm going to say Pilates is great for balancing out those things to a good degree. Stay away from yoga, you dont want to be too flexible and people like the stretch what feels tight (which doesn't work - just leads to more stretching progressively more) rather than get to the actual problem of imbalance.
     
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  7. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

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    I disagree with this. I find a combination of weight training and hot power yoga to be the perfect adult fitness regimen for tennis to prevent injury.
     
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  8. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    I think mikespinmusic and Pbarrow are both right about yoga.

    Taken to an extreme, yoga could lead to excessive flexibility at the joints, leading to less effective muscle contraction, and even injuries like from instability around the shoulder.

    But I'll bet few who also do weight training ever see this potential downside.

    It sounds like Pbarrow has just the right combination.
     
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  9. BluDiamond

    BluDiamond Semi-Pro

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    Sharapova and Murray are keen on yoga, as long as it's part of a balanced training programme I'm sure it would be of benefit to many tennis players
     
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  10. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    When you increase flexibility you decrease stability. Finding the right balance is key yes. But people misuse yoga. I find pilates pilates has a better success rate.

    My background is 7 years in the Fitness Industry, including sports rehabilitation and including a stint as a fitness director even for carnival cruiselines as both a yoga and pilates instructor. My argument is, that yoga was more popular because people felt they could get immediate relief from tightness but they weren't actually fixing the problem.

    The body tends to refer pain elsewhere. For example there's a lot of people in the world that love to stretch their hamstrings and lower back all the time. Thats a big no no.

    The hamstrings and lower back are tight because they're compensating for weak glutes. But everyone with this problem hears about yoga doing wonders and they go straight to the "Pain relief" excercises. Then they eventually come to me for rehab with additional spinal problems (because all that bending forward is bad for the water in the spinal discs) and it takes 6 months longer or more to help them improve ....
     
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  11. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    I'm sorry I meant "Pain relief" stretches*
     
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  12. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    Good Read

    This is some good stuff. There's a lot of people out there who's scapula doesn't move with the rest of their arm. They're upper trapezius muscles (the big ones left and right of the neck) compensate for the weak muscles surround the scap. If only people worked these muscles more often. We'd a have a lot less shoulder problems in the world...
     
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  13. comeback

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    That is interesting and seems to make sense Mike, I know that Pro sports teams frown on long stretch holds as it weakens the muscles (and stability as you say) i am a certified trainer and tennis pro but 62 now..I do stretch frequently but short stints. i have had 2 serious injuries, tennis elbow which i was able to rehab with
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVhlgBDy_F8
    and terrible back pain but had great success with this
    http://www.rebuildyourback.com/
    What kind of exercise or program do you reccomend?, i'm always looking to find new ways to improve ,thanks
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
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  14. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    i was typing a lot of stuff and the tw forum timed me out so it never went through... thanks for that..
     
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  15. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    What is the solution if I have tight lower back and hamstrings (range of motion 30 degrees less than the normal)?

    And how does one know if they have weak glutes? I have been running regularly for years. Is it possible for runners to have weak glutes?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
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  16. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    i balance my muscles with fat...

    seriously though, interesting discussion here.
     
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  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    The main 'glute' has a much different function than the two smaller glutes.

    The gluteus maximus is the large powerful muscle that acts over two joints, the hip and knee. Force for running and squatting.

    The gluteus medius is much smaller, acts over the hip joint and, by keeping the pelvis level, is very important for balance. Ice skaters and ballet dancers have particularly well developed gluteus medius muscles. Not sure how the gluteus minimus functions but that may also be for balance.

    The Trendelenburg Sign
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trendelenburg's_sign

    Illustration gluteus medius. Normal on left, weak gluteus medius on right.
    [​IMG]

    If the gluteus medius is not functioning properly it causes posture issues and added stress to the lower body parts, knees etc.
    My gluteus medius was weak after many years of tennis and several years of gym work. Did it contribute to my meniscus injuries, one in each leg,....? Simple exercises such as clamshells, fire hydrants, monster walks, strengthen this muscle.

    I've posted in more detail in other replies. Search: Chas Tennis trendelenburg

    These issues and related exercises are briefly discussed in Complete Conditioning for Tennis, Roetert & Ellenbecker. More intended for conditioning healthy players for performance and injury prevention as opposed to rehab of injuries.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
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  18. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    From Runner's World:
    "When we run, the glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hip, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. So when our glutes are faulty, our entire kinetic chain gets disrupted. Studies link glute weakness to Achilles tendinitis, shinsplints, runner's knee, and iliotibial-band syndrome. Indeed, many injured runners I treat come to physical therapy with strong abdominals and backs but weak glutes.

    Part of the problem is that glutes aren't as active as other running muscles during routine activities, which can make your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves disproportionately stronger. Another issue is that most strength-training routines don't isolate the glutes. If an exercise requires several muscles to perform the movement, the majority of the work will be done by the strongest of those muscles. Also, tight muscles, specifically the hip flexors, can inhibit the glutes and prevent their muscle fibers from firing.
    -http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/glute-strength



    One exercise can potentially fix your glutes, back and hamstrings - the squat.

    [​IMG]

    It is not called the "king of exercises" for nothing.

    It takes your legs, core and the muscles that connect the legs and the core, through a full range of motion that will help correct muscle imbalance that runners frequently exhibit - strong hamstrings but weaker glutes/quads.


    Don't let the above illustration worry you.

    You can start squats just as a body weight exercise:

    [​IMG]

    You can add a little weight in gradually just with dumbells:

    [​IMG]




    It is also possible that you have such severe muscle imbalances that you should start to work with a physical therapist to perform smaller movements to regain some flexibility before being able to squat correctly.

    For instance, doing "cats and dogs" might be a better way to start to get your back moving again:
    "Cats & Dogs Exercise Helps Painful Shoulders, Elbows, Wrists, Lower Back and Knees" - http://www.examiner.com/article/painful-shoulders-elbows-wrists-knees-or-hips-dogs-and-cats-can-help
     
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  19. tlm

    tlm Legend

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    Muscle imbalance is one of the leading causes of injuries in all sports. So working out to keep your strength balanced is a key in preventing injuries.
     
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  20. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    You're reply was the one that got timed out.... I'll try and sum it up quick for you.

    Slow and controlled movements are the key. Slow down all your glute exercises especially on the way back to the starting point. (e.g when you do a push up... you go up, then down.) Focus on going slow and controlled on the way down.

    Look up plenty of core stability exercises about keeping neutral spine.

    And of course balance work is good. Standing on one leg with your eyes shut is a good start. Also in your case, stretch your quads and calves more. Dont bother stretching your lower back or hamstrings.
     
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  21. comeback

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    ok thanks Mike, i can do slow and controlled movements..i do stretch my quads and calves a lot but i'll cut down on the hams and lower back..I like squats but get terribly sore with DOMS..any suggestions?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
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  22. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    There is no need to push into doing lots of squats with heavy weights.

    Tennis players don't need to squat huge weights - it is not football.

    It is far better to "go slow", but continue to include squats in your off court program. (Although there may be an "offseason" period where you are prepared to be a little more sore for some increased strength.)

    Being satisfied with a reasonable increase in strength without being continuously sore is the way to go.

    Unfortunately, there is no prevention of DOMS if you overdo it.
     
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  23. comeback

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    Thanks Charlie, have you ever heard of Hindu Squats?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPSVpo4mzNI
    They seems fast and you go up on your toes. Do you recomend staying on your heels?
     
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  24. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    I am not familiar with Hindu squats, but from the video it looks like the swinging arm movement is meant to help you unweight back up, and get into a rhythm to do a lot of squats.

    Exercise like this will help build endurance, and maybe a little strength.


    To really improve strength you'll have to add in some weight - I was mainly cautioning against trying to increase your weight too fast during a tennis season to avoid DOMS.

    Many have a period of the year when they are playing less tennis, and are willing to put up with some DOMS to get real strength gains.
     
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  25. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    I will avoid information overload. Doms means fat burning mode. This is a good indicator that the workout is doing its job. When it no longer gives you doms. Change it a bit or go up in weight. Otherwise look up pilates/glute exercises. Neutral spine during the exercises is key. The easiest way to hold neutral spine/activate core is to pull your belly in a little bit (retract naval) during the exercise.
     
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  26. comeback

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    Hi Mike, i just wanted to give you an update. I stopped overstretching my hamstrings and lower back..I do stability/core ie: reverse very short crunches and stretch my hips and quads more..IT'S WORKING GOOD. i sometimes do the superman exercise...thanks for the advice Man i really appreciate it
     
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  27. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    No worries man. Ask away anytime.
     
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  28. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    Yes runners can have weak glutes. A lot of them do.
    Sorry I took so long to answer this. Usually the person's balance is screwed. There's heaps of ways to find out. Best example for a runner is if their heals start kicking outwards during their run. Also, doing some squats. If you feel the burn in the quads its because the glutes are weak.

    Please look at my posts i sent to comeback for helping this :D
     
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  29. comeback

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    Hi Raul, i am 62 -40 years of hard tennis in good shape 5'9" 175lbs pretty good condition..I have been plagued by back problems and tight hamstrings for many years. I'm not sure if my condition is the same as yours though. My MRI shows 3 disc herniations and 5 degenerations L1-5..I have tried everything available..Some help,some don't ..Most recently i was stretching a lot and Mike advised to to stabilize my lower back with specific exercises instead and stretch my quads, calves and hips more. I started almost 3 weeks ago and it's working good. I keep it simple by doing very short bent leg crunches and feeling the squeeze in my lower back.I also squeeze a pillow between my knees and the superman extension (look it up for a graphic)..I stopped extreme stretching of the hamstrings and lower back. I still stretch my quads the most, hips (a little) and calves..I also do some free standing squats. So far so good..Thanks Mike, sometimes it's just a little change in a routine that makes all the difference.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
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  30. comeback

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    deleted by user
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
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