| By Suzanna McGee

As the U.S. Open approaches, we are extremely motivated to play harder and more often so we can feel like the pros. With only so many hours in a day, the more tennis we play, the more we ignore fitness preparation and injury prevention. And then one day … we develop overuse injuries.

The good news is that almost all overuse injuries are preventable.

Tennis is such a repetitive sport and it makes it hard for your body to keep up with the imposed demands and compensations. The more advanced and more intense of an athlete you are, the more your body adapts to the demands of training and you may start compensating and developing faulty movements. To prevent that, you need a proactive injury prevention and “prehabilitation” training.

The way to do it is surprisingly simple.

Your primary goal is to keep your body aligned and balanced in strength, flexibility and range of motion, in all planes. In other words, check yourself and your posture regularly and look for this one thing: All of the major joints—shoulders, hips, knees and ankles—should be aligned above each other in all planes.

When you look from the side and front/back, the shoulders should be above the hips, the hips above the knees, the knees above the ankles … all in one nice line. Looking from the front, the joints should be in horizontal lines, parallel to each other.

When you have this perfect alignment, you can be almost sure that you won’t have any future problems with overuse injuries.

Only a few tennis players are this beautifully aligned. You will notice that one shoulder is higher or more in front than the other, and therefore, the hips compensate to create a better balance with one hip higher and shifted forward/back. The same goes with the knees and ankles.

When you notice a faulty alignment, immediately start strengthening the weak muscle groups and stretching and (myofascial), releasing the tight and shortened muscles. Do this regularly until you even out these imbalances. Your body is a fine-tuned dynamic system that adjusts on a continuous basis, so check your posture frequently.

Keep the injuries away with this proactive prehabilitation regimen. A perfectly-aligned body is more functional in its movement and your performance will improve dramatically. With a good proper alignment, there is a great chance that you will feel awesome as well.