Tennis players make a wide variety of shots, all engaging their forearm, wrist and hand. To offset the high force absorbed by the upper body, perform these five foam rolling exercises. This routine assists the main muscles controlling movement in tennis to help players avoid common injuries such as tennis elbow and general wrist and forearm pain.
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1. Wrist Extensors
Working this muscle group, which originates at the lateral (thumb) side of the elbow and goes to the wrist, can help prevent tennis elbow.
Using a mini-foam roller, roll up 2 inches down 2 inches and repeat. Spend extra time rolling over trigger points, rolling shorter, 1 inch at a time, to break up those problem areas. Your strategy should be to roll the entire side in about 60 seconds.
2. Wrist Flexors
The wrist flexors (palm side) can develop trigger points similar to knots in a shoelace. Use the foam roller to break them up and elongate the muscles. Muscles that are chronically tight accelerate wear and tear on the forearm and wrist. Foam rolling techniques help eliminate unnecessary pressure on the arm. The same technique applies, as above: Use a mini-foam roller to roll up 2 inches, then down 2 inches. Repeat until you cover the entire length of the muscle.
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The pronators work to rotate your forearm from a palms-up to a palms-down position. Roll from the inner elbow joint to the middle of the forearm. A wrist roller is good for working these small muscles, increasing blood flow, removing lactic acid, releasing muscular tension and increasing range of motion.
photo courtesy of Rist Roller
The supinators work to move the arm in a palms-up position. Located on the inside (thumb side) of the forearm just below the elbow, they connect the upper arm to the lower arm. Symptoms to watch for include:
- Pain in the back of the forearm near the elbow
- Pain in the back of the hand at the base of the thumb
- Numbness and or tingling in the thumb side of the hand
Foam rolling can address these symptoms and improve muscular performance.
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Roll up 2 inches and then down 2 inches; repeat. Spend extra time over trigger points, rolling 1 inch at a time to really break up those problem areas.
When foam rolling, don’t neglect your hands, as small muscles are also susceptible to injury. Use the same technique, spending a few minutes on each hand. After a few weeks of foam rolling, you can switch to a denser foam roller to help find more trigger points.