Spring Exercise: Mobility for Tennis and Golf

This blog is the second in a series of 3. To read the first blog please click here.

Common compensations with your tennis or golf swing can be brought on by limited mobility and strength.  The exercise routine below will bring you through a series of mobility and strengthening motions for the trunk, upper body, and lower body. These are starting exercises to help your body get used to these motions again. If you experience any pain during the exercises or have difficulty completing them, it may be necessary to seek treatment from a physical therapist to help you get ready to safely return to playing tennis and golf.

Below are some of the less intense exercises that physicians recommend starting out with.

Warm Up:
Start off with a warm up with a 10-15 min walk or bike ride

Trunk Mobility: 

    • Open Book: Begin lying on your side with your arms straight in front of you. Keep the lower leg straight and bend the upper leg in front of you with both the hip and knee bent. It is important that if your upper leg has had a hip replacement to put a pillow underneath the knee to prevent the hip from crossing the midline of your body.  Lift the top arm off the floor towards the ceiling, allowing the head to follow the movement. Continue to rotate back until a stretch is felt.  Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times each side.

    • Thoracic rotation in kneeling: Begin on hands and knees, place one hand behind your head, and rotate your trunk down to bring your elbow towards the floor. Then rotate back up so it points towards the ceiling. Repeat 10 times each side

    • Seated Thoracic Extension: Begin seated in a chair with your hands positioned behind your head to support the neck. Gently extend your upper back over the top of the chair until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

    • Cat/Camel: Begin on hands and knees, round your spine down towards the floor while looking up to the ceiling; hold 10 seconds. Next round your back up towards the ceiling while looking down at your chest; hold 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times


Core stability:

    • Ball Abdominal Isometric: Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Place a physio ball between your hands and knees, and press your hands in to the ball, keeping your elbows straight. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

    • Posterior pelvic tilt: Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Flatten your lower back onto the floor and tilt your pelvis by engaging the muscles of the core (the way you felt with the ball isometric). Hold this position for 5 seconds. Then relax to bring your spine back to a neutral position. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions

    • 90/90 Heel Taps: Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Perform the pelvic tilt of the previous exercise, and hold that position. Gently lift both feet off of the ground until your hips and knees are bent to 90 degrees. Continuing to maintain the pelvic tilt, slowly lower one leg at a time and tap the heel to the floor, then return to the elevated position. Repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat 15x for each leg
    • Paloff Press: Begin with a thera-band tied to a stable object, holding one end with both hands, and the anchor off to your side. Slightly bend the knees and engage the core by performing the pelvic tilt from above. Bring your hands to the center of your chest, next straighten your elbows out, then slowly return them back in. When your elbows are straight the band will want to rotate your trunk, but using the core muscles try to resist the rotation. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each side.

    • Oblique crunches: Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Complete the pelvic tilt of the above exercise. Maintaining the tilt, reach one hand towards the opposite knee, then return back to lying down. Repeat with the other arm. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions; or 15 each arm


Upper Body Mobility:

  • Pec stretch: Begin standing in a doorway, place both forearms on the door frame, keeping your shoulders relaxed and elbows pointing down to the floor. Step one leg forward, and lean your body weight gently through the door until a stretch is felt at the front of the chest. Hold 30 seconds, 3 times
  • Posterior capsule stretch: Begin by bringing one arm across your chest at shoulder height, use the opposite arm to gently pull from your elbow until a stretch is felt in the back of your shoulder. Hold 30 seconds repeat 3 times for each arm
  • Wrist Flexors and Extensors: Begin with one arm straight in front of you at shoulder height with the palm facing down.  Bend your fingers and wrist down towards the floor, using the opposite hand to push gently down from just above your fingers until a stretch is felt in the forearm. Hold 30 seconds, 3 times for each side. Then repeat the exercise, but this time with bending your hand/wrist towards the ceiling and pushing from your palm.

Upper Body Strengthening:

    • Scaption: Begin standing with your arms resting by your sides. Gently bring your shoulder blades together and raise your arms on a diagonal to shoulder height.  Keep your elbows straight during this motion and lead with your thumbs facing the ceiling, then return your arms to your sides.  As this becomes easier, you can hold a 1 or 2 pound weight and gradually increase the resistance.  Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions. 

    • PNF: Begin standing on one end of a light resistance thera-band with your left foot and the opposite end of the band in your right hand. Keeping your elbow straight, move your right hand towards your left hip, then lift overhead in a diagonal. Slowly return back to your left hip. Repeat this motion 3 sets of 10 reps for each side. 

  • HORIZONTAL ABDUCTION: Begin standing with one end of a light resistance thera-band in each hand and some slack in the center of the band. Bring your hands out to your sides to make a T, keeping your hands at shoulder height, and squeezing the shoulder blades together as you open. Try to prevent your shoulders from shrugging up to your ears. Repeat 3 sets of 10 repetitions. If you are unable to complete this exercise without shrugging your shoulders up, then modify to lying on your back while focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades. 


Dr. Levine is a fellowship trained, board certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in total joint replacement surgery at Rothman Orthopaedics. He sees patients in Montvale and Rutherford. For more information or to make an appointment, visit RothmanNJ.com.

Dr. Lauren Zarro, PT, DPT has a clinical background in outpatient orthopaedics, with experience in a diverse patient population including sports rehabilitation, balance training, joint replacements and pediatric orthopedic cases. Lauren is employed by Professional Physical Therapy, and is currently treating at the Rothman Orthopaedics in Rutherford. If you are experiencing pain with the exercises in the above program and would like to set up an evaluation with Lauren, please contact: (551) 258-0864.

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