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Most Common Shoulder Injury

The most common shoulder injury in tennis (and every other racquet sport) is the aggravated supraspinatus, sometimes know as impingement syndrome or often simply as “a bad shoulder”.

Impingement syndrome causes pain in the shoulder when lifting the arm between 60 and 120 degrees sideways or when rotating the lifted arm inwards. It is a nagging pain that occurs because the supraspinatus tendon (the muscle under the roof of the shoulder) is pinched and aggravated when lifting and rotating the arm.

In most cases, it is an easy problem to fix requiring only some stretching (as the lady to the right is doing now) and some healing time. However, many athletes choose not to do what is required to resolve it and end up suffering needlessly for years. Some also end up quitting tennis because of it. “I had to quit because of a bad shoulder,” they will typically say.

As a coach, I encourage all of my players to include stretching of the shoulder’s posterior capsule (as in the video below) for five minutes at the end of every match or practice. Players who are diligent about this rarely suffering shoulder pain. Those who are not diligent, eventually run into shoulder problems and end up missing or losing matches because of it.

Stretches like these are what separate players in the I-play-to-get-fit category from the I-get-fit-to-play category. In other words, they are what separate dabblers from serious athletes. No truly serious athlete will allow a nagging and completely avoidable supraspinatus injury to keep them off of the court while recreational athletes will not only allow such an injury to develop and get worse, many will simply quite playing tennis because of it.

If you are a serious tennis player — or are aspiring to become one — consider adding some post match posterior capsule stretching to your post match routine. Your serve will thank you, your forehand will thank you and your backhand will thank you, too.

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Ouch!! Avoid Cold Weather Groin Pulls

Groin Injury
Groin Injury
It’s the end of March and spring is arriving across North America. For outdoor tennis players on the West Coast spring is already well underway. For players in the Northern US and in southern Ontario, tennis has been plausible if not convincingly possible everywhere for a couple of weeks now.

In Western Canada, where I live, hardcore players will begin hitting the outdoor tennis courts sometime in April. Nets are already up and waiting in many cities. Community nets will follow by about the middle of the month — weather permitting.

But is it wise to play tennis when the mercury is sitting at or below the 5° mark? Depending on who you talk to, that’s a debatable question.

Experts generally recognize five risk factors when it comes to groin injuries.

  1. Explosive movements
  2. Fatigue
  3. Tight groin muscles
  4. Overexertion
  5. Cold weather

Tennis requires explosive movements. Even players who are “just rallying” will often move explosively when a sudden burst of speed is needed to chase down a wide or shallow return.

Tennis also leads to fatigue and overexertion. And for many recreational players — especially those who have not spent the winter playing indoor tennis — their fitness level is especially poor at the beginning of the season when the weather is the coldest.

Cold weather, therefore, presents a real danger to recreational tennis players. The chances of suffering a level 1 or level 2 groin pull when the temperature is hovering just above zero is real and substantial.

Players must take great care to undertake a full and proper warm up. They must also be vigilantly aware of their body temperature, especially when playing rec-level doubles matches during which there can be long periods of little activity.

Whenever this happens, it is likely that their groin muscles will cool down and tighten up. At this point, the risk of suffering a muscle tear from a sudden, explosive movement becomes a very real possibility.