The majority of tennis injuries are due to overuse. The number of injuries varies depending on age, frequency of playing and skill levels. One of the more pesky chronic injuries is the lower back pain, which can happen due to poor swing mechanics, but more often due to poor tennis fitness. Many players play tennis to become fit, not realizing that they need to be quite fit to play at high level and injury-free. In the majority of players, some muscles are too weak and underactive, while the opposing muscles are too tight and overactive. Over time, this will cause more severe dysfunctions in the movement production and the player gets injured.
One of the culprits behind lower back problems is the hip complex: a weak gluteus and a shortened hip-flexors. In this modern world, we sit too much, driving to work or school, sitting at the desk, then sitting home later in the evening while resting and watching TV. Somewhere in between we had a couple of intense hours of training followed by no stretching, because there was no time or we were too hungry... do you recognize yourself? This is adding an insult to injury of the already dysfunctional hip complex.
I addition to your regular stretching routine after training (it doesn't need to be anything super advanced, even 10 minutes is better than nothing, see a simple routine here), put some attention to helping your hip-flexors to relax and elongate. It can be a lengthy process, but not that complicated. You can change your habits while working at the desk or other sitting occasions. Read the details how to care for your hips here. A little effort every day will produce big results over time.
If you want to do even more for your hips, make sure that you:
- do myofascial release for TFL and IT band, adductors and piriformis, 30-90 seconds, 1-2 times per day.
- stretch your hip-flexors and quadriceps, adductors and piriformis, 30-60 seconds, 1-2 times per day.
- strengthen the glutes with monster walk with tubes, single-leg bridges, hip abductions with bands, step-ups and single-leg squats; 10-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets per exercise.
After only a few weeks of giving attention to your hips, you will find that your lower back feels better and your tennis performance has improved.