By Brent Brotzman, MD
Shoulders are designed to allow our bodies to reach up into trees or into the highest cabinet — but not to generate a 130 mile an hour serve or throw a 100 mile an hour fast ball. Injuries to the shoulder in tennis are a relatively common occurrence in both the professional athletes like Patrick Rafter experienced, as well as the weekend player.
Repetitive overuse, such as serving multiple matches within a short period of time, often results in rotator cuff tendonitis. You have probably felt this tendonitis by a burning or stinging pain on the outer portion of your shoulder, approximately two inches down from the tip of your shoulder.
While many people lift weights to strengthen the pectoral, deltoid and bicep muscles, few recreational athletes strengthen the rotator cuff. Rotator cuff strengthening is extremely important because this muscle and tendon group also functions to push the ball portion of the joint downward during throwing to allow more clearance under the arch of the shoulder. If the rotator cuff is weak, the clearance is decreased and the rotator cuff and the ball of the shoulder essentially bang or get pinched underneath the arch of the shoulder during the throwing motion.
This can become a vicious cycle. The rotator cuff is slightly weak, so it does not allow shoulder clearance under the arch of the shoulder during throwing. As a result, the rotator cuff and the ball are repetitively pinched, or impinged. This inflames the rotator cuff and the shoulder joint, which causes more pain, inflammation, and more weakness – and the vicious cycle continues.
Read more – HERE – including 10 recommendations for avoiding shoulder injuries
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