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Ouch!! Avoid Cold Weather Groin Pulls

Groin Injury
Groin Injury
It’s the end of March and spring is arriving across North America. For outdoor tennis players on the West Coast spring is already well underway. For players in the Northern US and in southern Ontario, tennis has been plausible if not convincingly possible everywhere for a couple of weeks now.

In Western Canada, where I live, hardcore players will begin hitting the outdoor tennis courts sometime in April. Nets are already up and waiting in many cities. Community nets will follow by about the middle of the month — weather permitting.

But is it wise to play tennis when the mercury is sitting at or below the 5° mark? Depending on who you talk to, that’s a debatable question.

Experts generally recognize five risk factors when it comes to groin injuries.

  1. Explosive movements
  2. Fatigue
  3. Tight groin muscles
  4. Overexertion
  5. Cold weather

Tennis requires explosive movements. Even players who are “just rallying” will often move explosively when a sudden burst of speed is needed to chase down a wide or shallow return.

Tennis also leads to fatigue and overexertion. And for many recreational players — especially those who have not spent the winter playing indoor tennis — their fitness level is especially poor at the beginning of the season when the weather is the coldest.

Cold weather, therefore, presents a real danger to recreational tennis players. The chances of suffering a level 1 or level 2 groin pull when the temperature is hovering just above zero is real and substantial.

Players must take great care to undertake a full and proper warm up. They must also be vigilantly aware of their body temperature, especially when playing rec-level doubles matches during which there can be long periods of little activity.

Whenever this happens, it is likely that their groin muscles will cool down and tighten up. At this point, the risk of suffering a muscle tear from a sudden, explosive movement becomes a very real possibility.

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Play Your Age and Avoid Injuries

Brent Johner is a certified tennis, squash, badminton and pickleball coach
Brent Johner is a certified tennis, squash, badminton and pickleball coach
Remember when you were 19? You were young and athletic, in the best shape of your life. You hit the ball as hard as you could; you ran as hard as you could. Injuries? Nonsense. It didn’t matter what you did to your body, it would heal in a few days anyway.

Playing in the heat? No problem. Forgot your water? No worries. Six hours on the court? No sweat. A half-dozen cold ones after the game could fix all of that. You were 19! You were indestructible!!

Too bad it only lasted a year. First you were 19, then you were 20 and now, suddenly, you are on your way to 40+. Yikes! That 19-year-old who used to sprint out wide and make those impossible returns now has a 30 pound fanny pack attached to his waistline — courtesy of too many years of too many post-match cold ones.

Injuries that used to heal in a few days now take a few weeks, sometimes a few months. And they long ago stopped healing fully. Now you’re lucky if injured body parts heal to 90 per cent of their former selves.

The magic number, 19, has come and gone. You are wealthier now and your life overall is better that it has ever been. But you are older, slower and heavier than you have ever been too. Your body’s healing cycle has changed as well. Things that you could once walk off now require REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION.

So have you changed the way you play? Have you changed the way you prepare to play? Or are you still acting like a 19-year-old — walking onto the court with no advanced preparation and ready to run and hit as hard as you can?

Take a moment and imagine that you are 19 and playing tennis again. Now imagine playing tennis at 19 with a 30 pound pouch tied around your waste. Would you play any differently?

Most people would. Running around the court with an extra 30 pounds tied to your body puts a lot more strain on your joints and connective tissues. The extra weight also changes your balance considerably. The heavier you are, the harder it is to stop and change direction.

Off court preparation, therefore, becomes critically important for older players who have been away from the court for awhile and have put on some extra pounds in recent years. Strengthening the small muscles around the knees and the rotator cuff in the racquet arm is absolutely essential. Core training, too, will help with balance and general injury prevention.

Is it necessary to hire a personal trainer? Probably not. For those who can afford it, it might be a good idea. But for the rest of us, fitness training at the community gym or the local YMCA will do just as well.

The important thing is to recognize that your age and weight have changed. So has your body’s ability to heal itself. So now, more than ever, it is important to do something off court in order to help you perform better — and avoid injuries — on court.