Tennis is a difficult sport both mentally and physically, due to the numerous psychological pressures of the game. Lets also not forget the physiological motions that players’ bodies must endure to execute, forehands, backhands, serves and volleys. It’s no wonder that the sport places tremendous stress on a player’s joints, ligaments and muscles. As such, a focused massage concentrates on key areas that affect a player’s body and performance the most.
Massage therapist, Steve Jurch, who used to work with the WTA, wrote on Massage Magazine that massages are vital in reducing delayed-onset muscle soreness. This kind of muscular pain usually appears 12 to 24 hours following a tough match. A targeted massage helps prevent this soreness by encouraging increased circulation, which helps remove muscle toxins and keep muscles fully pliable. We mentioned previously how Nicolas Mahut needed a serious massage after his epic encounter with John Isner at Wimbledon. A massage increases the overall range of motion and helps muscles heal faster. Venus Williams’ routine to prepare for last year’s US Open included pre-match, as well as post-match, massages to help her play better and stay on the court longer.
After competing at the top level for over 20 years, Roger Federer’s longevity can be attributed to his massage therapists as well as the support of his wife, Mirka. In their feature on massage therapist Juan Reque, La Jolla Light reported how he treated Federer at his clinic, and just like Mirka, he became a vital part of Federer’s camp. Reque has been one of the therapists who helped Federer stay on top of his game for over 1,400 tennis matches throughout his career.
Federer has often spoken about how Mirka, herself a tennis professional, having played in all four Grand Slams, supported him and helped him reach new heights in his tennis career. A good support system is vital for successful tennis players, whether pro or not. While not all players can have a dedicated massage therapist, it is still possible to create a similar support system. In the same way Federer and Mirka support each other, FoxyBingo recommends learning to massage with your spouse. It can provide quality time together, and if you are both active players it is the perfect way to help each other recover after a hard match. Without both Mirka and his behind the scenes team, Federer wouldn’t still be playing at the high level that he is today. Something all aspiring tennis players should take note of.
The science behind sports massage has evolved in the last few decades. One of the biggest benefits to come from massage therapy for professional tennis players is biofeedback. The US Tennis Association’s study on tennis recovery showed that a massage is an excellent means by which a player can become aware of the specific muscles and tendons that have become stressed through playing tennis. The ability to tune into the physiological stressors helps the player monitor muscle stress and distinguish any potential problems before they become serious.