TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.
Hey Justin, I’m a parent of a competitive USTA junior. I read your interview with Michael Russell, in which he said that he uses self-massage tools to improve recovery and prevent injury. I’m wondering if you can recommend any massage products that our son can use during tournaments to help his muscles recuperate after long matches. Lining up a massage therapist at different sites would be ideal, of course, but I don’t think it’d be logistically (or financially) feasible. Any thoughts you could share would be appreciated.—Anne I.
Thanks for writing in, Anne. It seems that, as the game becomes increasingly more physical, greater numbers of players, even on the junior level, are looking for ways to enhance their recovery post-competition. Indeed, in a close match, the extent to which one is fatigued can make the difference between winning and losing—especially in amateur-level tourneys, where players are liable to contest multiple matches per day.
No wonder so many players are adopting the use of recovery modalities, such as ice baths, compression garments, and, of course, massage therapy: According to Todd Ellenbecker, Chairman of the USTA Sports Science Committee, they’re all known to stimulate circulation to tired, achy muscles. “[Such] recovery modalities use a similar mechanism,” Ellenbecker says. “[T]hey all try to provide some type of compression or changes to local blood flow to facilitate the clearing of metabolic waste products,” effectively expediting the time required for the body to heal itself.
Toward this end, one product that might be worth checking out is the Pro-Tec Roller Massager. The tool integrates rounded-grip ends, which the company says can be used to release fibrous knots, as well as multiple foam rollers to massage deep into muscle tissue. It retails for about $30, and comes with a guidebook detailing various therapeutic exercises.
Also worth checking out is the USTA’s official Recovery in Tennis booklet, put together by the Sport Science Committee. The booklet outlines various considerations that any committed tennis parent or player should make in preparation for competition.