Work It Out: 3 yoga poses for tennis players | SummitDaily.com

Work It Out: 3 yoga poses for tennis players

Pinna Gallant
Work It Out

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Tennis requires multiple aspects of fitness: strength, speed, agility, flexibility and focus. Thanks to its one-side-dominant nature, though, tennis can take your body out of alignment and possibly result in repetitive-use injuries, affecting your shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and spine.

Yoga can help tennis players re-balance their bodies, improve alignment, increase range of motion and tone the muscles essential for a powerful, long-lasting game. In addition, yoga's emphasis on breath can also foster the ability to focus and calm your mind before a match.

Below are three poses (with variations) to help open your hips and shoulders, tone your lower body and core, and bring additional strength to your game.

Cow Face Pose

Serving a tennis ball requires upper-arm internal rotation, which can yield very strong — and very tight — shoulders. Cow Face Pose helps strengthen your upper back and relax the muscles that create internal rotation, while also opening hips and returning these joints to a greater range of motion. If it's difficult to get your hips to relax to the floor, sit on a cushion or a block.

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From Downward-Facing Dog:

Bring the right knee to the floor between and behind your hands. Tuck the left knee behind the right.

Sit back and tuck your feet on either sides of your hips. Try to stack the knees and sit tall.

Take a strap in your right hand, lift your right arm up and bend your right elbow so that your hand (and the strap) hang between your shoulders.

Reach your left hand out to the side, thumb facing down.

Bend your left elbow and bring your left hand behind you, grasping the strap in your left hand.

Try to walk your hands closer together along the strap while balancing your body weight on both sitting bones. Lift your heart and pull your ribs in.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Repeat on opposite side (left hand holding strap).

From Cow Face Pose with right leg on top, add a twist:

Inhale and stretch both arms overhead.

Twist your upper body to the right.

Place your right hand on the floor or on a block behind your low back.

Sit tall and try not to lean back.

Place your left forearm on the outside of your right thigh.

Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Repeat on opposite side.

Crescent Lunge

Tennis requires powerful thighs and glutes for quick movement across the court. Single-leg exercises like Crescent Lunge strengthen quadriceps, glutes, knees and ankle joints while opening hip flexors. You'll also find that Crescent Lunge improves balance and develops core awareness.

Begin in a low lunge, with your left foot forward.

Place both hands on the floor and lift your right knee.

Ensure the front knee is directly over the front ankle and engage thighs and core.

Lift your torso and bring your arms overhead next to your ears, with palms facing each other.

Hold for 5 breaths.

For an additional shoulder stretch:

From Crescent Lunge, interlace your hands behind your back.

Reach your interlocked fists toward your back knee as you lift your heart.

Keep your core engaged to protect your low back.

Bend your back knee and let it hover a few inches off the floor.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Switch sides.

Forearm plank

Tennis serves are powered by rotation in both your arm and your torso. If your core is weak, you lose a lot of power and risk overuse injuries, especially in the low back. Forearm plank and side plank target the muscles that enhance stability and increase core strength — on and off the court.

Kneel on the floor.

Place your forearms on the floor in front of you and interlace your fingers.

Ensure that your elbows are directly under your shoulders.

Step your feet back one at a time until your knees are straight and you are in a push-up position on your forearms.

Fire your core muscles and keep your hips as high as your shoulders, broadening through both your collarbones.

Hold for 10 breaths.

Repeat 2-3 times.

For an additional challenge, add hip drops:

From forearm plank, bring your big toes to touch.

Keeping the inner edges of your feet touching, roll to the outside of the right foot and drop the right hip to the floor.

Return to center.

Roll to the outside of the left foot and drop the left hip to the floor.

Return to center.

Repeat 9 more times on each side.

Side plank

Like forearm plank, side plank strengthens and tones your core. It also works your arms, shoulders and wrists.

Come to the top of a pushup and separate your feet a bit wider than your hips.

Roll onto the outside of the right foot and the inside of the left foot, resting weight on your right hand.

Reach the left hand overhead.

For additional challenge, stack your feet:

Stack your feet and press your inner thighs together.

Lift your hips so that you create a straight line from heels to hips to shoulders.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Release and switch sides.

For one more challenge, lift your top leg:

Keep both feet flexed.

Keep your hips lifted as you raise your left leg.

Hold for 5 breaths.

Release and switch sides.

Pinna Gallant is the owner of Peak Yoga, Dillon's only dedicated yoga studio. Designed to challenge both the body and the mind, Peak Yoga classes build muscular strength, physical endurance and emotional resilience. You can find out more about Peak Yoga at PeakYogaStudio.com.

Where to play

Summit County is home to five public tennis complexes, including indoor turf courts in Keystone and Breckenridge. The Breck outdoor courts are currently under construction, but town tennis pros will still host private clinics this summer. A glimpse at the rest of Summit’s tennis scene:

Silverthorne

Rainbow Park — two composite courts (first come, first served), adult and youth lessons through the rec center at Silverthorne.org

Trent Park — two composite courts (first come, first served)

Dillon

Town Park — four composite courts (first come, first served)

Keystone

Keystone Tennis Center — two indoor turf courts ($25 per hour), eight outdoor composite courts ($12 per hour), adult and youth lessons through center pros at KeystoneResort.com

Frisco

Pioneer Park — two composite courts (first come, first served)

Breckenridge

Varies — Head tennis pro John O’Connor offer drop-in clinics throughout the summer. For details, see BreckenridgeRecreation.com.

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