Whether you’re a professional tennis player or a tennis enthusiast, you’ll know how strenuous a sport it can be. The repetitive movement and forceful impact on the joints and muscles makes tennis a sport that can cause many injuries, meaning tennis players are prone to muscle tears, joint pain and sprains. Massage therapy can help tennis players manage pain and assist in supporting active recovery and relaxation. This means that incorporating massage into your routine as a tennis player is a great way to help you show up to the court relaxed, pain-free and focused.
Benefits of massage for tennis players
As previously mentioned, a tennis player’s body is under a lot of stress on the court. Players must run across a hard surface while performing repetitive swings with their arms. This constant movement places the body under a lot of stress, and there’s a risk of inflammation and injury when coupled with short rest times in between sets. The body parts most utilised during a tennis game and therefore most prone to injury are:
- The shoulders/rotator cuffs
- The ankles, feet and calf muscles
- The elbows and wrists
- The back
- The bicep muscles.
‘Tennis elbow’, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is one injury that’s common in tennis players, hence the name. The condition is caused by overuse of the elbow from the repetitive swinging motion the arms make when hitting a ball. Tennis elbow can affect a player’s game, as well as regular activities such as writing, driving or working with weights during training. Ankle sprains are also common amongst tennis players due to the stop-start movements they use as they run across the court and change directions.
Tennis players also place a lot of emphasis on recovery between matches. In order to perform at the highest level all year round, players must maintain their bodies so they’re energised, relaxed and pain-free for all matches. Massage can help tennis players by supporting their recovery and treating any injuries or ailments suffered while playing or training. Some of the benefits of massage therapy for tennis players include:
- Decreased inflammation of joints
- Improved muscle recovery
- Prevention of muscle tightness
- Injury prevention
- Improved relaxation.
Types of massage to support tennis players
While various types of massage are effective for improving overall health and relaxation, there are specialised forms of massage that can benefit tennis players the most. If you’re considering massage therapy to support your tennis training, you should consider incorporating the following types of massage into your schedule.
For post-game and between matches: Whole Body Massage
Whole body (also known as ‘full body’) massage directly after a game can help to kick-start recovery and reduce fatigue. This is due to whole body massage’s focus on lengthening and relaxing the body’s muscles. This also can have a luxuriating effect on your state of mind, as a massage therapist trained in whole body massage can apply firm yet gentle pressure leveraging their own body to ease muscle tension and ensure a safe experience.
For injuries: Sports massage or deep tissue massage
Sports massage can be particularly effective for athletes, including tennis players suffering from common court-related injuries such as tennis elbow. With this type of massage, the massage therapist will focus on the affected area to help relieve pain and promote flexibility. Sports massage therapy borrows techniques from fields like physiotherapy to strengthen and condition pain-afflicted areas. Deep tissue massage can also be effective for treating sports-related injuries. This technique focuses on the deep layers of muscle and connective tissues to reduce tension, support recovery and improve healing.
For recovery: Relaxation massage
Playing tennis can leave the muscles feeling sore and swollen. Having a relaxation massage after your game can help to reduce recovery time and soothe the body and mind. Light, flowing strokes are used to align soft tissue fibres, promote blood flow and to quieten the nervous system, relaxing the whole body. When properly relaxed, the body can perform better both on and off the court.
Get match ready with massage therapy
Scheduling a massage regularly into your training program can help keep your body in peak condition. A qualified massage therapist can assist your recovery and injury management process as a tennis player. Find a massage therapist with recognised qualifications in courses offered by Discover Massage Australia to help assist you in your match readiness and recovery today.