The 3 Best Stretches for Table Tennis
Improve your table tennis and minimize injuries with 3 of the best table tennis stretches.
by Brad Walker | First Published November 22, 2010 | Updated April 23, 2019
The game underwent a number of changes in the early 1900’s, including an attempt to call the game whiff-whaff. At this time, unofficial championships and title exchanges became popular. Over the years, table tennis balls became bigger so that they could be seen easily on television screens. The end score was also reduced from 21 to 11 to make the matches shorter and retain viewers’ interest in the game.
Muscles used in Table Tennis
The same muscles that are used primarily for sports such as racquet ball, squash and tennis are all in play during table tennis.
In the lower leg, these include the calf muscle group, known as the gastrocnemius and the soleus. While the peroneal muscles lie on the outside and help with stability.
There a lot of muscles that connect in some fashion to the knee. The first group, the quadriceps or thigh muscles, start at the hip and extend down the front, joining into the patellar tendon at the tibia, just below the kneecap. They straighten out the knee when contracted. The hamstrings run down the back of the upper leg, connect at the medial and lateral sides of the leg, just below the knee joint. These bend your knee when contracted.
In the shoulder, the rotator cuff is comprised of four different muscles. These provide stability to the shoulder joint during activity. Other stabilizing muscles in the shoulder area include the rhomboids and trapezius. The deltoid is found on the outside of the upper arm, and provides stability for upward movements.
The two muscles responsible for flexion and extension of the elbow are the triceps and the biceps. The biceps are on the front of the upper arm, and the triceps are on the back, and together with the wrist flexors and extensors take the brunt of stress during swings, both forearm and backhanded.
Most Common Table Tennis Injuries
Although table tennis is not a contact sport, players can get over enthusiastic from time to time and overextend themselves. There is also a risk of chronic (or overuse) injuries from too much practice and play. Sometimes, injuries connected to table tennis can also come from freak accidents: dropping and stepping on the tiny balls causing a fall, running around tables and tripping or twisting ankles and slipping on water spills. The most common injuries associated with table tennis include:
- Forearm, wrist and hand sprain or tendinitis;
- Carpal tunnel syndrome;
- Rotator cuff tendinitis;
- Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow;
- Lower back pain;
- Knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain, medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain and meniscus tear;
- Achilles tendinitis and calf strain; and
- Ankle sprain.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Overall conditioning is essential to the table tennis player to help reduce injuries during training and competition. Other injury prevention strategies include:
- Conduct a proper warm up session before and between games.
- Cool-down properly after training and competition.
- Strong muscles will prevent many injuries caused by the constant change in direction and explosive movements.
- Good cardiovascular endurance will help delay the onset of fatigue, which contributes to many sports injuries.
- A thorough flexibility training program will reduce injuries from tight and inflexible muscles.
- Always use the right equipment; from the right pair of shoes to the appropriate table tennis bat.
- Play on well maintained areas with good surfaces to help reduce injuries from trips and falls.
The 3 Best Table Tennis Stretches
Table tennis stretches are 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 of the best stretches for table tennis; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.
Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
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Research and References
- Walker, B. (2011). The Anatomy of Stretching, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1583943717)
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, April 28). Table tennis, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Ebadi, L. Günay, M. (2018). Analysing Of the Types of Injuries Observed In Table Tennis Players According To the Some Variables. Journal of Sports and Physical Education, 5(4), 21-26.
- Kondrič, M. Zagatto, A. Sekulić, D. (2013). The physiological demands of table tennis: a review. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 12(3), 362.
- Vacenovský, P. Vencúrik, T. Sebera, M. (2015). The reactive agility of table-tennis players before and after sport-specific warm-up. Studia Sportiva, 9(1), 38-44.
- Kokkonen, J. Nelson, A. Eldredge, C. Winchester, J. (2007) Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(10), 1825-1831.
- Shellock, F, Prentice, W. (1985) Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports Medicine, 2(4):267-78.
- Fradkin, A. Zazryn, T. Smoliga, J. (2010) Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1):140-8.
About the Author: Brad Walker 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 (author page) 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 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.