by Lauren Freitas, DPT
For tennis players, volleyball players and golfers, the combination of hip and thoracic range of motion with trunk and hip strength translates to increased power capacity of your shots. Most injuries in the shoulder and lower back can be prevented by strengthening your core and utilizing your hips and trunk for power, rather than relying on your shoulder and lumbar spine to power your shots. Research has shown that elite tennis players have significantly more trunk rotational strength than novice players. But more importantly, elite players had SYMMETRICAL rotational strength, meaning there was no difference from side to side! This implies the value in training both sides for rotational strength at the same intensity to decrease muscular imbalances.*
In order to set yourself up for success in power training, start by addressing any restrictions in mobility here: Thoracic Mobility for the Overhead Athlete. Then, target strength and power. Developing strength and power in trunk rotation can be done with a variety of equipment and drills. But this part is crucial: do them on BOTH SIDES to maintain muscular balance. Below are some of my favorites.
Chops (3 sets x 15 reps each side)
Start in a staggered lunge position with leg closest to the band extended back. Elbows stay extended as you drop into a lunge and chop across your body with the resistance band.
Rotational Slams (3 sets x 10 reps each side)
Using a medicine ball for resistance, start with weight overhead, abs engaged and trunk slightly extended. Twist hips and trunk to the right as you slam the ball down on the ground outside of your right foot. As you slam down, lower into a lunge to grab the weight and return to start position. Repeat on opposite side.
Standing Resisted Trunk Rotation (3 sets x 10 reps each side)
Using a belt (or your robe tie) make a loop around your long resistance band and secure the band into a door. Hook the belt around your right shoulder with band crossed in front of your body as you rotate 360 degrees to the right, having the band contact the front of your hip. Slightly bend at your hips and knees and drive with your hips/pelvis to rotate to the right into the resistance band, simulating a tennis groundstroke or golf swing.
Side Plank w/ Rotation (3 sets x 15 reps each side)
Holding a side plank on your right with left arm extended overhead, rotate down to the right as you reach your left arm under your trunk, twisting through your torso. Return to start position.
Try these exercises out and if you have questions or notice any restrictions in your thoracic strength or mobility, reach out for an appointment with a physical therapist to help address them.
*An Isokinetic Profile of Trunk Rotation Strength in Elite Tennis Players.
ELLENBECKER, TODD S, ROETERT, E PAUL
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
November 2004-Volume 36- Issue 11- p1959-1963