The hips are the powerhouse for tennis players.
You have to make sure that your hips are always in good muscular balance. You want them strong, powerful, evenly flexible, and explosive. They connect the lower body and the upper body to work in unity, while providing stability, strength and flexibility to both upper and lower body.
If your hips are not properly aligned, your movement pattern is not correct and your joints will be exposed to extra forces and frictions.
Misaligned hips can cause you many troubles, such as pain in your lower back, knees, shoulders or ankles, and will possibly even create some more serious future injuries. It's extremely important to take good care of your hips to keep them strong, flexible, and properly aligned.
More: 9 Steps to Improve Stability and Prevent Injuries
Align hips regularly with this straight-leg hip twist, an important stretch for tennis players and all athletes because it rotates and relaxes the muscles of the spine while the muscles of the hip are contracted.
Besides a regular realigning, strengthen the hips and glutes regularly with different versions of squats, lunges, glute bridges and glute kicks and other hip-strengthening exercises. Additionally, stretch your hips with the seated groin stretch, supine groin stretch, glute stretch and cats-and-dogs exercise. Piriformis myofascial release will reach the deeper muscles in the hips.
More: 6 Exercises to Put Your Body Back in Balance
Straight-Leg Hip Twist
The straight-leg hip twist isn't known to many, but it's really effective stretch to balance and align hips. If you don't know whether you have problems, just try this stretch. If both sides feel about the same, you're doing fine. If one side is considerably tighter or less pleasant, you have issues and you need to keep working on getting the hips even.
Directions to Align Hips
- Lie down on your back with straight legs and feet flexed.
- Spread your arms 90 degrees away from your body with palms down.
- Place the right heel on top of the left foot and keep both feet flexed at all times.
- Contract the quadriceps of both legs and start lifting the right hip off the floor.
- Continue to twist until the right hip points toward the sky.
- Keep your upper body relaxed and turn your head the opposite direction.
- If you cannot twist your hips completely at this time, that's okay--one day you will be able to.
- Keep your quadriceps and glutes contracted and hold the stretch for 30--60 seconds, while breathing deeply.Reverse the feet and stretch the other side.
You may feel tightness in different locations, such as your hamstrings, adductors, knees or lower back. Continue doing this stretch after your training, running or tennis practice until it feels quite comfortable. Align hips on a regular basis and feel and perform better.More: The 3-Minute Stretch to Prevent Tennis Injuries
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