Squash Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
Squash stretching exercises to improve your performance and do away with squash injuries for good.
by Brad Walker | First Published February 24, 2009 | Updated August 10, 2017
Squash was born when some young boys found that a ball with a hole in it “squashed” against the wall and allowed unique hits. Soon, racket courts were divided into squash courts.
In England, the Squash Rackets Representative Committee was formed in 1923 and it later became the Squash Rackets Association (RFA). Squash was already regulated and codified in the U.S. for nearly two decades. Squash was introduced to the U.S. in New Hampshire by Jay Connover, an avid rackets player. He had learnt the game from a fellow student at Harrow in 1884.
By 1900, squash had a strong footing in Philadelphia. The United States Squash Racquets Association was formed in 1904. The court size, equipment and rules were all standardized and the first men’s national squash championship was held in 1907.
Till 1990, a harder and faster rubber ball was used in the U.S. while the softer ball popular in England was used in the International competitions. Squash is currently played in 130 countries on over 47,000 courts.
Squash requires a good deal of agility and good reaction to move to the ball. Upper body strength is required to swing the racket and provide a solid hit. Overall conditioning is also important to be able to play a complete game. Flexibility is important due to the various contorted positions a player may need to move through to react to the ball. Even though the ball is a softer, slower version of the racket ball it often comes off the walls in different directions and good players learn to use this to their advantage.
The major muscles used when playing squash include:
- The muscles of the shoulder girdle; the pectorals, and the deltoids.
- The muscles of the upper legs and hips; the gluteals, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps
- The muscles of the forearm and upper arm; the wrist flexors and extensors, the biceps, and the triceps.
- The core muscles; the rectus abdominus, obliques, and the spinal erectors.
A good overall training program with focus on flexibility, agility training, endurance work, and cardiovascular conditioning will help the squash player stay healthy and able to rebound from injuries quickly.
Most Common Squash Injuries
Squash can lead to traumatic injuries when players quickly change direction to react to a ball or when they fall, striking the hard court surface. Chronic injuries can result from the repetitive swinging motion.
As with most racket sports; injuries to the shoulder and upper extremities are common. The common injuries experienced by a squash player include clavicle fractures, acromioclavicular (AC) injury, rotator cuff injuries, and tendonitis in the elbow (tennis elbow).
- Clavicle Fractures: The clavicle is a very small bone and cannot take large amounts of stress placed on it. Falling on the court, landing on the shoulder, can result in a fracture of the clavicle. The clavicle is a part of the shoulder joint so a fracture in clavicle is very painful and may result in the inability to lift the arm at the shoulder. Deformity along the clavicle may be noted. Pain and tenderness at the site of the fracture will also be present. Ice, immobilization of the arm, and transport for medical attention are the initial steps in treatment. An x-ray will be needed to determine the extent of the injury. A player should not return to activity until the clavicle is completely healed, to prevent re-injury of the bone.
- Acromioclavicular (AC) Injury: The most common AC injury is a separation of the shoulder joint. This results in a sprain of the AC ligament. In more severe cases the AC ligament and the costoclavicular ligament are both torn. This results in lack of stability in the joint and, in rare cases, may require surgery. This is often caused by landing on the outstretched hand when falling. Placing the arm in a sling, ice on the joint, and NSAIDs will help with this injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, return to activity may occur as early as 2 weeks, but severe cases may take as long as 10 to 12 weeks.
- Rotator Cuff Injuries: Rotator cuff injuries in squash may be due to acute forces or chronic, repetitive motions. Acute injuries to the rotator cuff complex may result in complete ruptures and require surgery. Once the muscles are damaged the integrity of the joint is compromised. Chronic injury to the rotator cuff is a result of repetitive swinging of the racket. This may start as discomfort and progress to moderate to severe pain in the shoulder. Rest, ice, and NSAIDs may be enough to reverse the chronic condition.
- Elbow Tendinitis (tennis elbow): The rotation of the elbow joint during the swinging of the racket and constant flexion and extension can irritate the tendon on the lateral side of the elbow. Once the tendon becomes inflamed it rubs on the bone and causes additional pain and inflammation. Each swing causes the tendon to move over the bone. The bursa protecting the tendon may become inflamed, as well. As the tendon becomes inflamed it becomes less flexible and further stretch causes more pain. Pain and tenderness over the tendon, reduced range of motion, and weakness in the involved arm may result from this condition. Ice, NSAIDs, and a special band may help alleviate some of the pain. Rest is the best treatment for tendonitis, allowing the tendon to heal completely before returning to activity.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Proper training, adequate rest between training or competitions, and good nutrition are all essential for peak performance in squash.
- A good overall conditioning program will help prevent the early onset of fatigue that can lead to injury.
- Using proper equipment and courts designed for the game will also prevent many acute and chronic injuries.
- Strength training for the muscles of the shoulder girdle will protect the shoulder joint. A solid overall strengthening program will protect all of the joints and prevent muscle strains and tendon issues.
- Stretching, as a regular regimen and after intense play, will keep the muscles flexible and ready to perform at their peak when called into action. Good flexibility reduces the incidence of many sports injuries.
The Top 3 Squash Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for squash; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions below each stretch.
Assisted Reverse Chest Stretch: Stand upright with your back towards a table or bench and place your hands on the edge. Bend your arms and slowly lower your entire body.
Squatting Leg-out Adductor Stretch: Stand with your feet wide apart. Keep one leg straight and your toes pointing forward while bending the other leg and turning your toes out to the side. Lower your groin towards the ground and rest your hands on your bent knee or the ground.
Kneeling Heel-down Achilles Stretch: Kneel on one foot and place your body weight over your knee. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward.
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About the Author: Brad is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 100's of testimonials. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.