rotator cuff and serving underhand?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by blakesq, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,319
    Location:
    Connecticut
    HI All,

    I just had an appt with a doctor about my shoulder, and he wants me to do physical therapy for a month, to see if my shoulder gets better. He had Xrays taken. He says I have shoulder impingement related to rotator cuff issues.

    Anyhow, i told him i play tennis, and he claimed to have worked with James Blake. But he wasn't very forthcoming with whether I should change my tennis game, but he did want me to continue playing. I mentioned serving underhand, and he seemed to think that would be a good idea until my shoulder improves. If I don't see improvement, then the doc wants to do an MRI.

    My symptons have been for the last 6 months my shoulder has ached at night when sleeping, but my serve has been fine. however, in the last 2 weeks, my serve has started to hurt my shoulder. Oh, I just had surgery in the beginning of June for a meniscus tear in my knee.

    So, do you all think it is a good idea to serve underhand for the next month or so, until i see improvement?
     
    #1
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,414
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Why not start the game with a groundstroke?
    Better yet, why not a serve with a contact point about head high?
    Both keep your hitting elbow low and below your chest, so it shouldn't hurt the rotator cuffs.
     
    #2
  3. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,277
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    When I tore my rotator cuff in my non-tennis shoulder, probably at the gym, I would get pain at night. Two Drs had no answer when I asked about the night pain. My physical therapist said to look into ischemia or pain from lack of blood flow. No matter how I moved around in bed or massaged my shoulder, the pain would stay. However, if I got up and walked around the shoulder pain would go away. I believe that my pain was probably from ischemia/ lack of blood flow.

    Search: common tennis injuries

    There are many threads here on impingement. Search also Ellenbecker shoulder video and check out some of the threads on rotator cuff injuries.

    I would stop tennis altogether as I would not be sure what other tennis motions stress and aggravate the shoulder.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    #3
  4. tennisenthusiast

    tennisenthusiast Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,644
    how old are you?
     
    #4
  5. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,319
    Location:
    Connecticut
    48 years young!

     
    #5
  6. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,414
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Post #2.
    Any underhanded serve is likely taken to be a sign of disrespect, or will end the idea of a serious tennis match.
     
    #6
  7. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,319
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Lee,

    Thanks, i will certainly mix it up and use a groundstroke type of serve, backspin serve, and experiment with a head high contact point. I wonder though, with a head high contact point, won't my service form be so terrible, that it would lead to other injuries?
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
    #7
  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    36,414
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Not at all.
    I have been hitting a head high contact point serve just for the guys who stand 7' behind the baseline to return my first serves. Unfortunately, it still bounces into the strikezone of them, as I add too much pace, not enough spin yet.
    Keep your hitting elbow down at your sternum height, contact the ball around eye heights, you can hit it harder than most groundies and overheads, but need lots of spin to keep the ball IN.
     
    #8
  9. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    19,692
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Practice serving with your other arm.
     
    #9
  10. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,061
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    This is not a bad idea at all -- unless if hurts your shoulder to lift your arm (to a vertical position) for the ball toss. Serving with the opposite arm is actually great for brain development. To develop a serve with your non-dominant arm, start with learning to throw balls over the net with that arm. Start with low-trajectory throws (30 degree launch angle) and move on to 45-degree launch angles to work on distance. After that try some upward/high trajectory throws (75 degrees). These latter throw should help you to develop a good racket head drop on your serves.

    After these ball throws, try some racket throws in the park (preferably with an old racket). Start off with tomahawk (hatchet) throws a various launch angles to get a feeling for moving upward from the "scratch" position with racket on edge (requires that the arm/racket be supinated and does not assume a "waiter's tray" position). After the hatchet (axe) throws, add some forearm pronation after after the arm is fully extended on the upward swing. Vary the amount of pronation and your swing paths to simulate various spin serves.

    Once you have perfected your ball toss with your dominant arm and the throwing motion with the other arm, try some actual serves. It might be best to focus on the toss and the upward swing and forget about a windup at the beginning. Start with the racket either in the "scratch" position or the trophy position. With the latter, be sure that you are getting a getting racket head drop prior to the upward swing.
     
    #10
  11. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,319
    Location:
    Connecticut
    OP here. I played a doubles match today and served underhanded, with slice and topspin. Good news is, my shoulder does not hurt after playing! Bad news we only were able to win 1 of my service games.

    After some research, i think I know how I hurt myself. When my left knee started to hurt about 9 months ago (i ended up getting arthroscopic meniscus surgery in June), i think my serving mechanics got messed up. I recently saw a a video about rotator cuff injuries and a slow motion video of some pros serving. I learned that you get your greatest strength from throwing your arm in a sidearm fashion, e.g. pitchers, javelin throwers. Well, but tennis players serve with the arm in a vertical position lined up with their upper body, right???? NO! when watching the slo mo videos of pros serving, I saw that their upper body was at angle (approaching being parallel to the ground) and not vertical when they hit the ball, and that their arm was still almost vertical, meaning they were actually serving in kind of a side arm fashion. Well, when I was serving well, before me knee was hurting, I was using my legs to push off, and exploding into the court leading with my left leg and getting my upper body to make an angle to the ground, and reaching up vertically with my arm. When my knee started hurting, I was hesitant to step into the court with my left leg, so I was pretty much standing straight up (vertical) and muscling in my serves, with my arm also in vertical orientation. Well, I have since learned, that puts terrible stress on your rotator cuff.

    so, now i will start physical therapy. I plan to serve underhand at least for a month, and hopefully, after a month, regain my proper serve mechanics.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
    #11
  12. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    4,277
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Another factor is conditioning. When I've been off for a few months for an injury I get generally out of condition.

    Also, the small rotator cuff muscles need to be strong enough and have adequate endurance to hold the ball of the humerus in the shoulder's socket, especially for all serves. Late in the match you don't want the rotator cuff muscles to fatigue.

    The Thrower's Ten are some exercises that deal with conditioning of healthy shoulders - do them only after you are no longer injured or get the exercises approved by the Dr or physical therapist. You might be doing some of these and selected Blackburn exercises in your PT. Discuss your shoulder posture with your physical therapist.

    I have a light yellow resistance band tied to a hand rail near my microwave. When I heat things I often warm up first with very low resistance (shorten the band) and then do a 20 rep set of external shoulder rotations.

    You can feel the conditioning of your shoulders improve with these light exercises that are aimed at certain small muscles.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
    #12
  13. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,061
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    Not up for the brain development?

    When I first started serving with my non-dominant (right) arm, I learned more about serve mechanics and developed greater insights into the production and effects of spin and power. Well worth the time invested. It also did a lot to help my left arm/shoulder to recover (and generated some new connections & pathways in the brain as well).
     
    #13

Share This Page