Stretching by Megan Sween, PT, DPT

Stretching – we all hear about how important it is and how it is beneficial in terms of sports performance. But what is the ‘why’ behind the importance of stretching? Is there a correct way to stretch? What is the difference between static and dynamic stretching? How do I know what body parts to stretch and what should be prioritized when I stretch?

There are two different types of stretching – static and dynamic. Static may be what initially comes to mind when someone thinks about stretching. Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for usually 15-60 seconds. Static stretching is considered to be very safe and is widely accepted and used across general fitness. Dynamic stretching involves more functional movements. Dynamic stretching takes a movement to end range and then returns back to starting position about 10-15 times. Dynamic stretches are considered to be movement oriented, they help to generate heat inside the muscles, allowing them to be more pliable. This in turn can help with injury prevention. When stretching before playing a sport or performing some other exercise, dynamic stretching is preferred as it is better at properly preparing muscles for action.

There are three planes of movement that the body works in – sagittal (forward and back), frontal (side to side), and transverse (rotational). With all movements and daily activities, our bodies are constantly moving through multiple planes at one time. Knowing that, it would make sense that we need to warm our bodies up in all three planes before stepping onto the court.

So how should I stretch? Well, take your body through similar movements that you would perform when you step on the court. In pickleball and tennis, we generate a large majority of our strength and power through our hips, meaning we need to get those hips moving and warmed up before stepping on court. We also need to get our thoracic spine (mid-upper back) moving. The thoracic spine is an area of restriction for most people as it doesn’t move as much as it should. Lack of movement in this area of the body can often be a cause of injuries at the shoulder and low back. By lunging forward, laterally, and back at a 45 degree angle with each foot, we get the hips moving through sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes. If you raise your arms straight overhead when stepping forward (figure 1), out to the side when stepping laterally (figure 2), and across your body when stepping to 45 degrees (figure 3), you also get your core and thoracic spine warmed up.  Six simple movements performed 5-10 times apiece will get that body warmed up in no time!

All in all, there are no hard and fast rules or one specific stretching routine that is the ‘best.’ Get that body moving in all directions for 10-15 minutes before play and go dominate the court!

Figure 1 Stretching

Figure 1 – Sagittal plane stretch; Raise your arms straight overhead when stepping forward. Perform 10 times with each leg.

 

Fig 2

Figure 2 – Frontal plane stretch; Step straight out to side and place arms up overhead, bending core towards the same direction that you stepped out towards. Perform 10 times with each leg.

 

Fig 3
Figure 3 – Transverse plane stretch; Step back at 45 degree angle. Keep arms at shoulder height and rotate core to follow the direction of your foot. Perform 10 times with each leg.

 

About the Author: Megan Sween PT, DPT,  is a Physical Therapist at Spooner Physical Therapy in Ahwatukee.  You can contact her at m.sween@spoonerpt.com

 

 

Arrowhead Park Courts Nearing Completion

The 6 pickleball courts are Arrowhead Meadows Park in Chandler, AZ are nearing completion as workers start painting the play area.

Completion date is estimated to be Jan 29th and will included 2 tennis courts and 6 dedicated pickleball courts.

Each court will be fenced off for play.

All courts are free to play and open to the public 7 days a week.  Park hours are 7am to 10:30pm

 

What’s Your Strategy to Play?

You are in a tournament or league play, or you’re just going out with your partner to have a little competitive fun with other players, maybe it’s just a warm up practice session.   You have your paddle, the balls, all the equipment….but do you have the most important part…Do You Have A Strategy to Win?strategy-640x303

Sure you know how to hit the ball, you have great hand eye coordination, are you really ready?  Have you talked to your partner on how you are going to play? Do you have it in your head on how to minimize mistakes and force the opponents into making errors?  You already know the team the makes the most errors generally loses, so how do you go about causing that to happen?

The biggest aspect of the game that gets neglected most is the mental aspect.  You are not mentally prepared, yes, physically you stretched and warmed up, but what is your game plan.

Try this next time, go on the court, talk to your partner, warm up with him or her and in your warm up hit directly back to your partner and vice versa.  Most people like to warm up to hit winning shots, rather than hit accurate shots….if you are this person, or if your partner is, suggest to them the warm up is about accuracy and challenge each other to hit the shot directly to each other…shot placement wins points.

After your warm up, talk to your partner, develop a strategy, and keep it focused.

A good basic strategy might be as simple as hitting each shot down the middle (the net is lower, it forces the opponents to decide how is going to take the shot, and it general causes confusion as the opposition is still figuring who’s shot it should have been as it goes by…plus the middle of the court reduces the need for a high accuracy placement shot versus a corner or angle shot).

The second part of your strategy is to communicate with your partner, decide before the first serve is made on who is going to take what shot.  Generally speaking the forehand should always take the shot, so if you are on the odd side and your right-handed and your partner is also right-handed on the even side, you take the middle shots…your forehand is going to be a better shot than your partners backhand, plus you can see more of the court.

Work together as a team, communicating helps you as a team to decide on shot selections and there is less doubt about who covers the middle.

Hit less angle shots, angle shots have a greater degree of risk and require a greater degree of accuracy.  Sure they look pretty, but you are taking a risk.

Decide early who is the weaker opponent and focus on hitting to that person.  At the same time keep the stronger player honest, especially if you see them pouching.

Keeping your strategy simple and basic will increase your chances of getting more points, forcing more errors on the opponents side and hopefully add more wins to your game.

Pecos Park Pickleball Schedule

The class schedule for all fall pickleball classes are now available through the site.  Links are set to take you to the registration area and you can start registration at 6pm August 3rd.  You can also register directly at the Pecos Park Community Center front desk.

We are offering 4 Beginner Classes, 2 Intermediate Level Classes, 2 Advanced Level Classes.  We have also made available 3 skill level classes for the following level ratings: 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5.

We can add additional classes based on demand and will offer classes again in the winter and spring sessions starting in January, 2018.

Class sizes are limited to 8 participants.