Everything is connected in the human body. The muscular system, skeletal system, and nervous system are called the "movement system" or sometimes the "kinetic chain."
When the entire system works together, your performance will improve and you'll avoid future overuse injuries.
More: One Powerful Stretch to Prevent Injury
When some muscles are overactive (tight) or underactive (weak), they will disturb the balance in the entire kinetic chain and force other muscles or joints to compensate for that less than perfect movement. Injuries, aches and pains soon follow.
Aches and pain in the lower back, knees and ankles can crop up with greater frequency as we get older, limiting our ability to improve our fitness level or participate in sports, such as tennis, at all.
Below are three examples of faulty and dysfunctional movement systems and some recommendations on how to avoid the problem.
Lower back pain or strain
It often starts with your feet. If your feet pronate too much (or if you have flat feet), your knees will buckle in and your thigh and hip internally rotate. This changes the pelvic tilt and can cause lower back problems.
More: 7 Exercises for Fitter Feet
Make sure that your ankles are flexible and your feet muscles strong. Also the balance of the quadriceps and hamstring, in strength and flexibility should be maintained.
When your hip muscles that abduct and externally rotate your leg are weak, the alignment of your quadriceps and patella tendon may change.
More: How a Tennis Ball Can End Hip Pain
Even a 10-degree change can increase the stress on your knees by 45 percent. Each time you start and stop during your movement on the court, the extra forces on your knees are tremendous and you will encounter problems eventually.
Start strengthening your hips on a regular basis.
Studies have shown that athletes who sprain ankles often have weak hip abductors.
Increase your range of motion in your ankles by stretching your calf and performing foot circles, and improve your balance by standing on one leg and progress to balancing with closed eyes.
If you want to prevent future ankle sprains, start strengthening your hips with the 'monster walk' exercise described below.
Monster Walk Forward or Backward
Place a rubber band around your ankles. Stand with an open stance, knees bent with a neutral lower back and look forward. Make sure your knees are always aligned in one line from the hips over the feet and the feet are pointing forward.
Widen your stance and walk forward with small steps, about three to six inches. Keep you hips and chest facing forward and don't rotate your pelvis when you walk.
After 20 to 30 steps, reverse the movement and walk backwards. Your glutes should be burning now. Repeat the sequence two to four times.
Super fit tennis players have to pay attention to those small muscles in areas that are often ingored, such as the hips, feet, ankles and rotator cuff. If they are the weakest link, then the entire kinetic chain will break down and you won't be able to improve further.
More: 10 Fitness Uses for a Tennis Ball
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