Indoor sports
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Avoiding Injuries in Squash
by Peter Ku

Squash is a game of quick stops and starts, and hard, jerky movements that strain just about every part of the body. Over time, most squash players experience injuries of some form, even though so much can be done to avoid the onset of injuries and even more can be done to facilitate healing after the fact. Take it from one who learned it the hard way. Here are some tried and true ways to aggressively manage physical injuries:

Warm-Up. It's still amazing how many squash players simply step onto the court and start playing. Of those who warm up, many hit the ball for 5 - 6 minutes and then start playing. It's extremely stressful for the human body to go from a state of relative inactivity to state of heightened activity in a very short period of time. Muscles are not warmed up, and the body is not ready to react quickly, as is required in this sport. Be mindful of the warm-up. An ideal warm-up consists of the following: (i) 10-15 minutes of non-impact activity that brings the heart rate up to 80% of one's maximum heart rate; (ii) 5 minutes of resistance training targeting the more vulnerable parts of the body, which, for squash players, is the forearms, calves, back and legs; and (iii) 5-10 minutes of deep stretching for the back, shoulders, arms, calves and legs.


Court Shoes. One of the most neglected areas and, in the opinion of the author, the most important area in terms of equipment are court shoes. Great and proper-fitting court shoes are very hard to find because everyone has different feet. Shoes that may work perfectly well for someone's long-time squash buddy of 15 years may be disastrous for the next person. Among other things, one's long-time squash buddy may have wider feet, crooked feet, some may pronate and others supinate. Even the way that a person runs affects the ultimate decision of what type of shoes provide the best fit. After many years of playing squash, it is the opinion of the author that the best shoes to wear for squash are heavily padded mid-top basketball shoes. Why? The first reason is that these shoes have significant sole cushioning, compared with most other types of athletic shoes, which absorbs vibration so that the vibration is not absorbed by the back. The second is that these shoes are designed to "wrap snugly around" the foot of the athlete so as to minimize slippage and black toenails. Traditional court shoes tend not to fit as snugly and, as a result, feet can slip inside the shoe, particularly during sharp turns. The third reason is that the hard soles and relatively stiff siding of basketball shoes provide greater support for the feet which helps to protect against sprained ankles and painful conditions like planters fasciitis.

Racquets. The piece of equipment that most squash players usually get right is the racquet. That's because squash players, like golfers, spend a lot of time obsessing about their racquets. That said, like court shoes, choice of racquets is a very personal decision. Here's what this author typically looks for in squash racquets and, although some may disagree as to some of these qualities, by and large, these are the qualities that most avid players agree all quality racquets should have. First, the racquet must be able to absorb vibration so as not to transfer that vibration to the arm of the racquet holder. Arm vibration will eventually result in a very painful condition known as tendonitis.

Many players play with cheap "starter" racquets that are either poor quality to begin with or are strung with poor quality strings, as a result of which significant vibration is transferred to the player's arm. Over time, playing with a low quality racquet is simply not worth it. Not all expensive racquets are necessarily high quality, but one's chances are better with a proven brand (e.g., Wilson, Black Knight, Prince, Dunlop, Karakal) and a widely-used model. Second, the racquet should not be too heavy for the player. This is another very common mistake. Relatively weak players and even most advanced players should consider playing with racquets that weigh no more than 140 grams. There is a characteristic of the racquet known as swing weight and, although this is not precise, the heavier the racquet, the greater the swing weight. A reasonable amount of swing weight is not only good, it is necessary. Excessive swing weight will place considerable stress on the small tendons inside the arm, again causing tendonitis. Third, if one plays 2-3 times per week, one should restring the racquet at least quarterly. Dead strings not only play poorly, they cause one to swing harder and they result in more vibration being transferred to the arm. Strings are not expensive, so they should be replaced frequently, more frequently than most avid squash players realize.

Hydration. A great way to stay healthy is to consume a significant amount of liquids, particularly water. The recommendation from health professionals is that individuals consume at least 50% of one's body weight in ounces of water per day. For a man who weighs 170 pounds, that would be 85 ounces of water per day. By the way, this is a minimum amount. If one engages in strenuous exercise, that amount should be increased accordingly. Why water? Because of the intense nature of the game of squash, squash players build up tremendous amounts of lactic acid in their large muscles groups, particularly leg and back muscles. Acidity, in general, can lead all types of physical ailments, so acid should be removed from the bodily system as quickly as possible. Studies have shown that lactic acid can only be moved out of the body in two ways. The first is through alkalization, of which conspicuous water consumption is a part, and the other is through low-level exercise which causes large amounts of oxygenated blood to move through the stressed areas.

Peter is an avid, but largely untalented, squash player in Seattle, WA. When not playing squash, Peter and his wife, Grace, invest in real estate in the Puget Sound Area. Peter and Grace have two young daughters, Sydney (7 years old) and Ashley (2 years old) and they live in Redmond, WA. To find out more, go to

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