Tennis fitness training: the key role of the physio!

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Tennis is a demanding sport. For pros, of course, but also for amateur players. Medical monitoring is therefore very important to last in this discipline.
Laurent Tort, physiotherapist and osteopath in tennis, answers our questions!

The physiotherapist role

Laurent Tort : 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to treat a pro tenniswoman into my osteopathy office, for recurrent physical pains. She liked my approach and offered me to follow her on various WTA tournaments and Roland Garros, which I did for several years. Besides, I joined the Open Sud de France 8 years ago. And since 2014, I regularly attend 2 French pro players on various ATP tournaments. A follow-up in osteopathy is essential both for professional and amateur players. Indeed, with his hands, the osteopath tests all the micro-mobility losses of the human body structures and prioritizes them. Once this diagnosis is made, osteopath manipulates the body, often gently, to restore the movement within the body. Thereby, osteopathy seeks to bring the body from a possible state of compensation (or decompensation) to a state of adaptation, so that it can normally handle the various constraints it is subject to.

 

As a physiotherapist, Laurent cares for players in the same way as explained above. But he works with a multitude of patients:

"When I am a tournament physiotherapist, like in Montpellier, I work with the ATP physiotherapists for players who do not have their own personal physiotherapy. Cares also consist of osteopathy sessions, recovery, rehabilitation, stretching, massages. The ATP medical staff has a computer software that lists all the treatments performed to players, which allows a treatment continuity."

 

Physio's advice

Let’s watch, whatever your level, these two videos which present you the main advices on 2 main aspects :

- How often do you need to take care of your body?

- Two sensitive areas to watch carefully for a tennis player: the shoulder and the hip.

 

 A follow-up in osteopathy is essential both for professional and amateur players
Laurent Tort
Professionnal Physiotherapist

Complementary physio tips 

1/ Sheathing

A global sheathing work is recommended to strengthen the muscle chains, and the back. The strengthening of these deep muscles, in addition to their protective role, helps to cushion the stresses experienced by the joints.

2/ The feet

The feet, especially during the hard-court season, must be carefully treated with massages, mobilizations and stretching of the plantar fascia.

3/ Stretching

A stretching protocol is recommended for some muscles: abs, adductors, hamstrings, triceps, forearm muscles, external shoulder rotators.

4/ Abs

As far as women are concerned, it is interesting to strengthen abs, while avoiding concentric contractions and promoting hypopressive exercises to protect the perineum.

 

A typical day as a pro player physiotherapist

"Generally, I try to arrive at the tournament 2 or 3 days before the 1st match of the player. I always start with an osteopathy session, in order to restore the tissues mobility losses. This session is made before the competition, so that the player can have some time to recover, because it can temporarily tire him.

The day usually begins with breakfast, and immediately after I make a session of postural stretching with the player. This allows to gently wake up and soften the different muscle groups, and to stimulate the different joints and muscle sensors.

Then, we go to the practice or match court. 30 minutes before training, I realize a warm-up in 10 to 25 minutes. Then, during the training, I'm next to the court. It is always interesting to be close to the player and to be able to follow up what is happening. This way I can control his actions, his movements, I can see if there is an injury, what could have caused it. And I am present to reassure and listen the athlete. 

Back at the hotel, after a nap, we can go to the gym for bodybuilding, sheathing, specific proprioceptive work, and rehabilitation if you have a particular pathology. During tournaments, we share the daily life of the player: evenings, meals ...

Then we go to the room where I bring a massage table to do the care. We usually start with the recovery based on massages, stretching. I complete with a global muscular aponeurosis relaxation work. Then I can retest in osteopathy the different joints and muscle groups to see if during training there were some tissue blockages. Before going to bed, we can do some relaxation.

On game days, the schedule is similar. We do not do weight training on these days. However, after the match we go back to the hotel to do some care. The priority is given to recovery, if the player replays the next day, and to the treatment of possible sores to make the tennis player operational. Sometimes, if the player is scheduled late, we return to the hotel around midnight, 1 am. Then we have to adapt to the athlete willing and determine if care is more important than sleep.

Let's take a close look at the "Next Gen’s", these young players who realized the importance of physiotherapy.

 

Laurent, you also have a Master's Degree in Sports Psychology and you told me about an unknown approach to injury prevention, can you tell us more?

"The sporting community has always assimilated injuries to medical problems, physical preparation (overtraining, bad preparation or schedule), unhealthy lifestyle or external causes (ground conditions, equipment, string...).

Nevertheless, since I became physiotherapist and osteopath in top-level tennis, I often hear medical professionals, coaches and athletes saying that injuries have psychological reasons. But concretely, nobody does anything to prevent this aspect of injuries. Yet, there are scientific models and academic studies that put emphasize on what is called the psychological determinants of injuries. Then, we can draw some actions to try to reduce the injuries, to better accompany the injured athlete, his rehabilitation, and his recovery in competition. "

There is a model, the “stress injury model”, which states that in a potentially stressful sport situation (competition, intensive training) athletes develop a stress response and the injury risk increases
Laurent Tort
Professionnal Physiotherapist

Stress Injury Model

There is a model, the “stress injury model”, which states that in a potentially stressful sport situation (competition, intensive training) athletes develop a stress response and the injury risk increases. This stress response would produce some changes in the athlete physiological and attentional level: muscle temperature increase, visual field narrowing and distraction increase ... as a result, the physique is weakening. By being stressed, less attentive, tense and by having a restricted field of vision, the athlete increases his injury risk.

Other psychological factors may also contribute to personal injury: personal life issues, earlier injury experience, personality subject to stress, difficulties to control emotions, etc. "

 

 

What about you? Do you do what it takes to avoid injury?