Tennis and Weakened Posture

Ask the Expert

Q:

In the summer, I like to stay in shape by playing lots of tennis. Now my posture seems to be getting worse. Could this be from playing too much tennis?


A:

It could be. Most sports require lots of repetitive movements that can lead to muscle imbalance. The tennis swing is a pushing motion that emphasizes the muscles on the front of your shoulders, chest and abdomen. Done repeatedly, your chest and shoulder muscles can shorten and start to pull your shoulders forward, giving them a rounded appearance.

What's more, the strong upper abdominal work needed for a powerful tennis serve can start to round the upper back. To counteract this, stretch these overused muscles after a game. Doing resistance exercises for your upper back and rear shoulders also will help keep your posture in check and make you less prone to injury.

Try these posture-strengtheners.

Chest opener:

  • Stand with your back against a wall, holding your abdominal muscles tight.
  • Bring your arms up until your elbows are the same height as your shoulders.
  • Rotate your arms to bring your hands as close to the wall as possible.
  • Slowly, lift your arms toward your head by sliding your hands upward. Go only as far as you can without letting your back come off the wall.
  • When you reach that point, slowly slide your arms back to the beginning position.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Note: If your head doesn't touch the wall, prop a pillow behind your head.
    Chest Opener

Shoulder external rotation:

  • Hold an exercise band (available at sporting goods stores) in both hands. with your palms up and elbows bent next to your sides.
  • Keeping the elbows by your sides, slowly start to rotate the upper arm bone and move your hands away outward to expand the band. Do not let your back come away from the wall.
  • Return to starting position slowly.
  • Repeat 10 times.
    Shoulder external rotation

Rear deltoid (back of shoulder):

  • Hold an exercise band in front of you at about shoulder height with straight arms and palms facing up.
  • Move your arms to the sides. Keep your hands at shoulder height or slightly below.
  • Return to starting position slowly.
  • Repeat 10 times.
    Rear deltoid

Upper back extensors:

  • Lie on your stomach on the floor. Place your hands on top of your head, finger tips together.
  • Lift elbows off the floor without moving your hands.
  • Then, slowly, lift your head and upper body off the floor while holding your abdominal muscles in. Imagine your upper back and shoulder muscles pulling your upper body off the floor.
  • Return to starting position slowly.
  • Repeat 10 times.
    Upper back extensors
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