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Ways to Prevent Common Tennis Injuries Part 1

January 15, 2017

Lower back pain is the number one injury among tennis players, accounting for approximately 23% of all reported tennis injuries. There are several factors that may contribute to lower back pain which include improper conditioning and warm up, weak core muscles, and tight hip flexors. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on tight hip flexors and how it relates to lower back pain.

What are the Hip Flexors?

The hip flexors are a group of muscles that work together to flex the hips,

drive the knee forward, and help to provide stability for the lower extremity. During a game of tennis, players are constantly starting, stopping, lunging, changing direction, and maintaining a low center of gravity while moving to the ball. All of these motions work the hip flexors sometimes causing them to become tight and short. Tight hip flexors can contribute to lower back pain by causing the pelvis to tilt forward while pulling on the lower back. When a muscle becomes too tight and shorten, this may also cause a muscle imbalance.

What is a Muscle Imbalance?

A muscle imbalance is a condition in which there is a lack of balance between certain muscles. When muscles become tight and short, they sometimes inhibit the opposing muscles causing them to become weak and lengthen. In the case of tight hip flexors, the opposing muscles that become inhibited are the glutes. While the hip flexors work to flex the hip, the glutes extend the hips. The body is very efficient and will find a way to produce the movement even when muscles are inhibited using the next best thing. In this case, the next best thing is the lower back and the hamstrings.

Stretching the Hip Flexors

When it comes to playing tennis, stretching properly is very important. Before practice or a match, a player should warm up and stretch dynamically, moving your joints through a full range of motion. This helps to prepare the body for playing. After practice or a match, stretching can be more static. Static stretching focuses more on elongating the muscles. When stretching, one of the most important elements is breathing. Allow your breath to help take you through the stretch so that you are more relaxed versus trying to muscle through the stretch.

Your Metabolism

August 1, 2017

The rate at which a person burns calories is called their metabolism. The metabolic rate can be measured in a number of ways, but it is important to understand that it is a measure of the rate at which we extract energy from nutrients and use it to fuel the body’s processes as well as your physical and mental activities. Total metabolism is composed of the following major components:

1. Maintaining body functions measured by your resting metabolic rate (RMR) such as breathing which is 60-75% of your daily caloric expenditure.

2. Activity (occupation, sport and lifestyle) which accounts for 20-30% of your daily caloric expenditure.

3. Digestion accounts for 5-10% of your daily caloric expenditure.

RMR represents the calories the body burns to maintain vital body functions (heart rate, brain function, breathing, etc).

Exercise raises your metabolism and controls your weight by burning fat and building muscle mass.

Eating and digesting food requires energy and consequently increases your metabolism. Therefore, by eating more often, every 3 to 4 hours, you keep your body working throughout the day without giving it a chance to slow down its metabolism or pack away calories as fat. When you skip meals, the body aims to preserve itself by slowing down the metabolic rate and storing energy as fat. However, this can vary in that if you eat too much, your metabolism will actually slow down due to energy being diverted to digest the overabundance of food in your stomach.

Take a Drink

August 7, 2017

While visiting, my mother asked me to water the flowers. After only missing a couple of days, the flowers had already started to wither. I remembered thinking to myself, “Wow, I can only imagine what happens to people when we don’t drink enough water.”

Our bodies are composed of 2/3 water. All cell processes and all organ functions depend on it including the regulation of metabolism and body temperature, digestion, absorption of food, transporting oxygen and nutrients to cells, detoxification, helping to protect joints and weight loss .

Water is necessary for good health and needs to be replaced daily. In 2002, The American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who drank more than 5 glasses of water a day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack than those who drank less than two glasses.

Dehydration severely limits our performance throughout the day. Your body loses about 2-3 liters of water daily through urination, elimination, perspiration, and respiration. Beverages that contain water including juice, soda, tea, coffee, etc are not good enough. Drinks containing caffeine stimulate your adrenal gland and dehydrate your body while also robbing your body of important minerals and vitamins.

There are several types of water to choose from:

1. Tap Water – A form of municipal water that has been treated, disinfected, and processed.

2. Distilled Water – Water that has gone through a vaporization process.

3. Reverse Osmosis – Water that has been forced through a semi-permeable membrane that removes particles, pollutants, and minerals.

4. Deionized Water – Water that has had its mineral ions removed.

5. Spring Water – Water that is derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface.

All of the different types of water have their advantages and disadvantages which could be anything from cost to convenience. The most important thing is to just get in the habit of drinking water even when you feel you don’t need it. First thing in the morning is a good place to start. As far as how much to drink, everybody’s body is different. It is good to drink enough water until your urine is clear.

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