HOW DO THE PROS DO IT?
USTA Eastern | March 14, 2018
How do the pros do it? Some simple tennis health tips
Ever wonder how the world’s best tennis players make sure they stay fit and healthy? Sure, they have access to personal trainers, nutritionists, and massage therapists that the average player can only dream about. But they also follow some of the same basic rules that will work for you.
Alexis Colvin, MD, an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, is in a unique position to know. For the last five years, she has traveled with the U.S. Fed Cup team as the team physician. This is also her tenth year treating players at the US Open, leading a team of Mount Sinai doctors and sports medicine experts responsible for caring for players throughout the event.
At the Fed Cup matches, most recently in Asheville, N. ADVERTISEMENT C., she sits courtside for all practices and matches, her medical bag at the ready, in order to attend to the best U.S. women’s players. So she has seen a lot, and she knows that the best players in the world are paying more attention to basic health and fitness as they continue to play at the top of their game well into their 30s.
This unique perspective is one she uses to help her patients, whether young or old, tournament player or novice.
“My philosophy is that you don’t need to be a professional athlete to see a sports doctor. I am going to treat someone no matter what their level because they have a goal. It’s just as important to want to be able to play doubles on the weekend or run the local 5K as it is to win the US Open.”
Here is her tennis fitness checklist:
It may be more fun to hit forehands and backhands. But you should also work on your strength, your flexibility, and your endurance. There are plenty of complementary activities to choose from, including running, swimming, or exercises in the gym. This is more important than ever with the techniques of the modern game, and also critical for older and younger players alike. You can find some specific suggestions for avoiding injuries on our sports medicine web site.
Rest and Recovery
There are a number of activities that are helpful for recovery after a strenuous outing on the court: everything from massage to stretching to using foam rollers to taking an ice bath. Scientific research papers have been prepared on this topic for the pros. But it doesn’t need to be that complicated if you use common sense. You can find some helpful tips in this booklet from the USTA. One thing to keep in mind: The pros may take one or two days off after matches, but they may cross train on those days.
Diet and nutrition
Tennis can be vigorous exercise that requires plenty of running around, so you should have a plan for pre-match, during match, and post-match nutrition. Most importantly, make sure you drink enough fluids. Plain water is normally enough, but sports drinks can be of some help when you are sweating a lot especially with extended match play. You can learn more from this video on hydration from one of my Mount Sinai colleagues. One more reason to watch what you eat: many lower extremity sports injuries are aggravated if you are not at your ideal weight.
You might be surprised how even the smallest things can make a big difference. Make sure that you have the right grip size and that your racquet is strung properly. When weekend players complain about a new injury, their equipment may be partly to blame.
Make sure you use sunscreen every time you play outside. One of the things you don’t see on the Tennis Channel is that the pros always slather on plenty of sunscreen before walking on the court. You can find more details in this post.
Alexis Colvin, MD, is an Associate Professor of Sports Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the Leni and Peter W. May Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Colvin specializes in the surgical treatment of knee, shoulder, and hip disorders. She has authored numerous scientific publications and has presented both at national and international meetings on sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery.