Repetitive motions cause injuries. Even worse, repetitive motion injuries make up over 50% of all athletic-related injuries. While this is true, it can be also false. If your joints are stable and functional, and you repeat the same motion over and over, your muscles get tired before the healthy joint would get damaged. But if your joints are not stable, which means that they have lost their kinetic connections and are not moving properly, then the repetitive motions will certainly cause an injury eventually.
Our lifestyle without proper ergonomic care causes small changes in our posture and movement. They are small enough that we don’t notice them at first, but over time they accumulate and the problem becomes big. Here are a few examples of ergonomically incorrect movements that we do daily:
- Sitting at the desk and slouching
- Working in front of computers
- Typing on iPads, smartphones, Kindles and other pads, while the head is forward and shoulders slouched.
- Driving, flying, riding bike, traveling
- Cooking, cutting vegetables, playing electronic games, painting
- Sleeping with high pillows, sitting in uncomfortable positions, sitting in the same position for prolonged periods
- Holding phone between head and shoulder, carrying a shoulder bag always on one side, carrying heavy backpacks, etc
If you feel that you are developing pain symptoms of repetitive motions, you need to think about the exercises that stabilize your joints, rather then to sedate yourself and your joints with medications, which only correct the symptoms and mask the underlying problems. A helpful exercise to re-align your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders is a wall squat.
The wall squat will teach your quadriceps muscles that they are supposed to support your upper body during your activities, instead of letting the hip flexors to do all the work. When your quadriceps learn how to support your trunk, you will find that staying low on the tennis court and changing directions will become much easier and less stressful. The wall squat also strengthens the hip extensors: gluteus and hamstrings, which often are weak and overpowered by the strong hip flexors. In the wall squat, the hips, knees, and ankles are under the workload in a position that disables the assistance of the hip flexors.
- Lean toward the wall and keep a 90-degree angle in your hips, knees, and ankles.
- Walk your feet away from the wall so your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart and parallel with each other.
- The knees should be over the ankles, not the toes, and in line with the feet. Do not let them move in or outward. Maintain your ankles, knees and hips in one line and symmetrical.
- Press your lower and mid back against the wall and feel how your quadriceps muscles are working on the top part of the thighs.
- Focus on working and feeling both your quadriceps evenly—always remember the balance.
- Hold the position for 2 minutes. It can be a struggle initially and you may need to start with 1 minute only and work yourself up to 3-5 minutes over time.
You will know that your body is becoming more balanced and functional, when the wall squat gets easy. You will feel better in all your daily activities, and you will notice that your movement on the court will be quicker and your tennis game will improve.