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NEWS

Ask the High Performance Lab -- November 1

May 25, 2008 12:25 PM

PLEASE NOTE: The medical opinions in USTA.com's Ask the High Performance Lab are responses intended for the average player. Please consult with your primary physician before beginning any new exercise program.

Todd Ellenbecker, Chairman of the USTA Sport Science Committee. Todd is a physical therapist and clinic director of Physiotherapy Associates Scottsdale Sports Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.© USTA
All answers to this week's "Ask the High Performance Lab" column are provided by Todd Ellenbecker, Chairman of the USTA Sport Science Committee. Todd is a physical therapist and clinic director of Physiotherapy Associates Scottsdale Sports Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. He received his degree in physical therapy from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in 1985 and a master's degree in exercise physiology from Arizona State University in 1989. In addition, he is a certified sports clinical specialist, an orthopedic clinical specialist by the American Physical Therapy Association, and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is also a certified USPTA tennis teaching professional.

Q: I would like to know about rotator cuff injuries, things such as prevention and treatment.

A: Injuries to the rotator cuff in tennis players typically occur from overuse. The 4 tiny rotator cuff muscles are responsible for the huge task of stabilizing your shoulder and both accelerate your shoulder during internal rotation as well as decelerate your shoulder after ball impact on the serve. This creates a significant amount of fatigue particularly in players who do not have adequate amounts of strength in their rotator cuff muscles.

Research done by members of the USTA sport science committee show that the rotator cuff muscles do not get stronger simply by just playing tennis. Instead supplemental exercises are needed to improve both the strength and endurance of these important muscles.

We therefore recommend doing rotator cuff exercises using a light weight or elastic tubing several times per week. Avoid doing the exercises before tennis play as you don't want to play with a fatigued rotator cuff. These exercises can be done using three sets of fifteen or twenty repetitions. Performing these on a regular basis will help to prevent rotator cuff injury.

Please use the exercises in the attached files to improve rotator cuff and shoulder strength.

If you would like to submit a question that may be answered by our Health & Fitness team or want to share an idea for a future column, please click here.

 

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