As a part of my “Real People, Real Fitness” series, I want to introduce Tony Tran. He is finishing up his Doctorate in Physical Therapy and is a avid tennis player. I asked him to talk about injury prevention because of his expertise and experience. So many of us get injured while exercising and being active and there are ways to prevent them from happening. Check out his story and his great advice.
I graduated from UCLA with a biochemistry degree and currently am finishing up my Doctorate in Physical Therapy (I’m graduating in October!). I grew up playing tennis since I was 8 years old, participated in many tennis clinics, and competed extensively in junior and adult tournaments. I have over 15+ years of tennis experiences.
I got started with physical therapy because of my uncle who has Parkinson’s Disease. I worked with a great neurologic physical therapist while I was in college and that’s how I began my journey. Currently, I am focusing on orthopedics but may expand to the neurologic population one day. I wanted to meld my professional career and my love for tennis so hopefully one day I’ll get to work with junior tennis athletes doing preventative care and rehabilitation.
Coming from a future professional standpoint, most injuries occur because of poor mechanics and extensive overuse. I see many people adopting new fads like barefoot running or Crossfit without understanding the repercussions. Barefoot running is not for everyone! Especially if you have really flat feet, you overly pronate, or have had previous calf injuries/calf weakness. If you want to transition to a barefoot/minimalist shoe running try to work on your intrinsic foot muscles first, meaning the small muscles of your foot that create the foot arch. And when you finally make that leap into barefoot/minimalist shoe running, pace yourself. If you’re looking to run a marathon barefoot/minimalist shoe, you’re looking at about a 36-preparation. If you try running 1 mile at week 1 and steadily increase by 10% distance every week, you’re at about 36 weeks before hitting that marathon marker. The slow, incremental increase is for your foot to adapt to the increase load and work.
From a tennis standpoint, a lot of injuries occur because of too much work on the upper extremities. Like many sports, tennis is a really an entire body sport, you definitely need to incorporate your legs and core. You will need to get your legs to look like tree trunks in a dynamic way and really get a strong core so you can use other parts of your body to generate power rather than the upper extremities.
Top tips for athletes to avoid injury:
1) DYNAMICALLY stretch before and after activity (I know there’s some controversy about how stretching decreases amount of power your muscles can generate but getting your blood flowing is always recommended)
2) Proper body mechanics while weight lifting. (don’t rock your body, lift from your legs, don’t excessively arch your back, try not to go beyond neutral during bench press especially with history of shoulder injuries)
3) Maintain flexibility and work on the core. (Not the beach abs but the deep abdominal muscles that stabilize the spine)
As a part of my studies, I I disseminate information from evidence-based research and what I have learned/observed. Talk to me at the end of the year if you want more help. In the meantime, talk to Thomas, he’s buff and smart and will give you great tips on how to be strong.
Thanks for reading guys and hope you guys enjoyed it.