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3 Cold Weather Warm-Ups to Protect You from Tennis Injuries

12/21/2020 - Jami Lewin - Racquets & Paddles

With winter setting in across the country and chilly weather even in south Florida, you may be concerned about how you will be able to play tennis in the cold conditions both safely and effectively.

If you do not have the option to move to an indoor court or do not want to until it is no longer possible to play outdoors, you will need to make adjustments for the cold.

In addition to dressing properly, adding ten to fifteen minutes and some additional exercises to your warm-up routine will help to prevent injuries and to optimize your performance even in the cold weather.

1. Walk it Out

Often underutilized, a simple brisk walk is the most effective way to begin your warm-up (and end your cool-down) to improve circulation, regulate body temperature, and give your muscles a chance to prepare for what’s next.

So, start out by taking a few laps around the court, making sure your heels continue to meet the ground to keep yourself from going too fast—at least for the first couple of laps.

Pay particular attention to your breath as you walk, finding an even rhythm and taking deep, slow breaths in and out through your nose. If you start to feel too warm, take a breath or two out through the mouth to release heat.

2. Static Stretches

After circling the court a few times, make sure to spend some time in one place doing some isometric stretching.

Begin with a cross-body shoulder stretch: hugging one bicep to your chest with the opposite hand, allow the arm and hand of the shoulder that is being stretched to relax and hang limp.

Next, interlace your hands in front of you, turn your palms away and reach upward for an upper back and shoulder stretch. Finally, to stretch the front part of your shoulder, interlace your hands behind your back (or reach for opposite elbows or wrists). For a deeper stretch, consider straightening your arms and lifting your hands up and away from your lower back if it feels accessible.

For the lower body, place your feet wide apart with the feet parallel for a wide-legged forward fold, stretching your hips, hamstrings, and calves. Bend the knees a lot or a little (depending on how tight your muscles are), especially when raising out of or lowering into the pose.

Next, with the feet still wide apart, rotate hips and shoulders towards one foot and turn both feet to face the same direction. As you lower into a lunge, your focus should be on the calves and quads if you keep your knee lifted; otherwise the focus is on your hips if you lower the knee all the way to the ground and sink into it.

3. Walking Lunges

Finally, bring these static stretches together in combined movement with walking lunges.

Begin standing comfortably with your feet together and your arms clasped above your head with the palms facing up. As you step forward and begin to lower with control into a lunge, release your hands, lower the arms, and reach them behind you, feeling the same stretch in the shoulders even if the hands do not meet.

As you prepare to raise back up with control, bring the hands in front of you and clasp them together, then reach them overhead as you rise and step forward to return to the starting position.

Alternate lunges and repeat until you feel comfortably warmed up.

By integrating these warm ups into your routine, you will ensure that your tennis game will be effective and safe.

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