Last month professional tennis coach Marcin Bieniek joined Women's Tennis Blog's team with his article "5 portable fitness tools for serious tennis players" and now he'll teach us the best ways to use a foam roller, one of the five pieces of equipment he recommended in his January's contribution, as our reader Helen of 40ish-love suggested that we explain a few key exercises with the recommended tools.
By rolling your body, you improve soft tissue extensibility, which results in muscles being relaxed. It is another form of stretching that helps to keep your body strong and flexible, provides faster recovery and improves your on-court results.
There are THREE COMMON TECHNIQUES used by athletes around the world that you should know.
1. Rolling over entire muscle
This technique was the first one that players and coaches started to use. If we take thighs as an example, you have to roll your body from hip to the knee. Motion should be slow and controlled, to make sure that you get all the benefits from this action.
2. Rolling 1-2 centimeters at the time
Complete opposite technique is applied if you roll your muscle 1-2 centimeters at the time. This technique allows to massage the muscle more precisely, but it takes much more time than the previous one.
3. Finding and pressing on trigger points
Trigger points (spots in the fascia surrounding skeletal muscles) are spots responsible for pain. If you take care of these spots, you will significantly reduce feelings of tiredness. With this technique, you should roll your body until you find a trigger point, then you should stop and maintain position for 20-30 seconds.
You should try all the three common foam roller techniques, see the benefits of each of them and apply the most effective for yourself on a daily basis.
Now let's move on to the BEST FIVE DRILLS that you can use to recover faster and improve your on-court performance. Because in tennis your legs work enormously hard, all the drills will be focused on lower body parts.
1. Roll your calves
Reason: When you move effectively on the court, you spend a lot of time on front part of your feet. It means your calves are working really hard. If you don't help them recover, you can get seriously injured soon.
2. Roll your quadriceps
Reason: Power for serve and groundstrokes comes mostly from your big muscles in legs. Quadriceps do a lot of good for your tennis, so you should also make some good for them.
3. Roll your hamstrings
Reason: A lot of people take care of quadriceps, but they neglect hamstrings. That is a big mistake. Hamstrings are crucial muscles during deceleration process, so if you take tennis and your health seriously, you have to roll these muscles too.
4. Roll your IT band
Reason: Outside part of your legs is responsible for quick change of directions. It doesn't matter on which surface you compete, if you want to push from your outside leg and recover after the shot, you need these muscles in top shape.
5. Roll your glutes
Reason: More big muscles that help you playing with a lot of power. If these muscles are tired, you can't be explosive, so your offensive weapons will be significantly limited.
Foam roller stole hearts of athletes around the world. Tennis players, basketball players, soccer players — they all use self-massage to help their bodies get quicker to the pre-game state. Foam-rolling is kind of a new phenomenon in athletic world and you will never assess anything effectively if you don't try it yourself.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website TennisIsland.us. He is also an author of Enjoy Tennis Blog. Marcin has been working with USTA, Top 100 ITF and WTA/ATP players. Currently he is working with Top 200 ITF female junior. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.