The Negative Effects of Sitting and One-Sided Training on Tennis Players: Results and Insights from Expert Testing
A worrying development due to a combination of “too much” sitting and one-sided training.
Together with our expert Silvester Neidhardt, who has not only trained thousands of athletic trainers, physiotherapists and doctors in his career, but has also tested and trained hundreds of players and athletes from a wide variety of sports, we put several players under the microscope. Among them were world-class players, top juniors, club junior players, young children, ITF seniors, and many club and recreational adult players.
Silvester used various “tests” to check joint functionality, mobility and stability and the results were – in his words – too often “in the red zone” in several areas.
A quick explanation is needed here:
A result in the red zone means “anatomically very limited”. The yellow zone results mean, movements are performed with compensation and the green zone means everything is working well.
Interestingly – and unfortunately also frighteningly – the results for tennis players (as well as for many other athletes in other sport arts) are almost always the same: Despite the fact that many players specialized in their sport, their ROM (Range Of Motion) and associated stability is usually quite deficient.Silvester Neidhardt
Here is what it meant to be in the “red zone” for our players
Feet can suffer from the negative effects of poorly supporting shoes, resulting in visible deformities such as flat, splayed, or bent feet, as well as restricted control of the toes. However, the soles of our feet possess a high level of intelligence, containing up to 200,000 nerve endings and sensors – more than our faces. This allows for ideal feedback in regards to foot position relative to the ground and the regulation of musculature to maintain or restore balance even during rapid movement.
The ankle joint exhibits excessive rigidity and limited flexibility, coupled with select areas of hypermobility resulting in the development of valgus formations or a knock-kneed orientation during weight-bearing activities. This inflexibility impairs the ability to execute rapid push-offs, change direction seamlessly, and maintain equilibrium upon landing. Furthermore, ankles with restricted mobility are at a heightened risk of injury, which regrettably occurs with frequency in the sport of tennis.
The players struggle to rotate into their strokes due to the stiffness of their hips in both internal and external rotation. Additionally, tight hips result in slower side-steps, making it challenging to use crossover steps to escape from the corner.
Besides hip immobility, the lack of activity in the gluteal muscle, known as “dead butt syndrome,” was another alarming factor that had a deadly impact on hip and upper body stability.
Prolonged sitting can cause the buttocks to weaken and lose their ability to support the upper body. Additionally, it can cause tightness in the muscles at the front of the hip, limiting the natural rotation of the pelvis and causing other muscles to compensate. This frequently leads to discomfort in the lower back.
The irony is that hip extension is essential for every tennis stroke.Silvester
The thoracic spine
The thoracic spine’s contraction causes forward rolling shoulders and folded shoulder blades, which impede the groundstrokes or overhead strokes’ fluidity.
Shoulder and arm movements
The shoulder and arm movements presented the following problems:
- Motor system dysfunction resulting from inadequate scapula control.
- Hunching shoulders is a common occurrence resulting from routine activities such as prolonged sitting or unbalanced physical training.
- The gym lacks three-dimensional training, and prioritizing weight quantity may compromise quality. Poor posture, misalignments, and compensatory movements can undermine a well-intentioned training program.
Our study’s players were initially surprised by our findings, but soon recognized the benefits of enhancing mobility and optimizing stability for improved performance. Each player left with a plan, and we have already observed numerous positive changes. We are eager to see further developments, not only for performance enhancements but also for injury prevention, faster recovery, and career longevity.
Players, coaches and parents were very grateful for this testing and the resulting insights.