Shoulder pain while serving

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by doublea06, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. doublea06

    doublea06 New User

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    The last few times I've played tennis my shoulder has had sharp pain when I serve. It's a sharp pain about where the shoulder and arm reach each other. This does not occur on any other of my shots, besides over head/serves. It also doesn't hurt if I serve with out a tennis ball. It hurts when I make contact with the ball. I use a standard continental serves grip and I just hit flat and top spin serves. Now I don't think it's an over use injury because I've only played 5 times in the last two months. I've just started up again because the season is about to start. I'm 18 with a single handed backhand and an eastern forehand. If you need any other info just ask. What could this be? I've never really had this problem before.
     
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  2. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Relax. You're probably arming the ball too much. I used to get some arm pain when serving too. But I refined my technique, and now no prob serving (the motion, that is; getting the ball in the box is still a problem.. lol)
     
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  3. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Video yourself or have a pro check your form.
     
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  4. doublea06

    doublea06 New User

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    So I should try relaxing my motion. I don't think my technique is the problem, but I've been wanting to see what form looks like anyway. I don't think it's anything to serious, but I need to fix it.
     
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  5. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Shoulder anatomy illustrations -
    https://www.google.com/search?q=sho...QHl94Eg&ved=0CEsQsAQ&biw=1320&bih=669#imgrc=_

    Shoulder labrum illustrations -
    https://www.google.com/search?q=sho...mGrKo0AHkjICYBA&ved=0CDYQsAQ&biw=1320&bih=669

    Pick an illustration that shows where your pain is. Click on it to enlarge and view it. Right click and select "Copy Image Location".

    Reply to this. On your reply screen, in the bar above, pick the yellow icon with a mountain shape. Click it. A box appears. Right click and Paste the image location into the box that appeared.

    Check "Preview Post" on the bottom of your reply screen to see it. The picture should be in your post.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
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  6. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    In TW Search box (above) Search for -- Ellenbecker Shoulder impingement

    Many TW Health & Fitness threads on shoulder injuries.
     
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  7. doublea06

    doublea06 New User

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    #7
  8. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    #8
  9. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Jim McLennan short video on the rotator cuff, impingement and serving
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTRvxaBMh8s

    Todd Ellenbecker video on shoulder anatomy, impingement, and serving. At minute 8 he describes the same insure as McLennan but in more detail.
    http://www.tennisresources.com/index.cfm?area=video_detail&vidid=3712&ATT=&reso=lo

    I looked at your videos but from the side view but I had a hard time especially seeing the shoulder orientation described above. Also, I don't know how to do YT stop action on my smartphone. With the camera placed behind the server and viewing along the ball's trajectory the shoulder orientation is easier to see.

    Here is the view with the camera behind showing the shoulder orientation -
    https://vimeo.com/21512296

    My shoulders are OK here but my wrist has an angle that was not correct, stressful.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
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  10. doublea06

    doublea06 New User

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    Ah I didn't think about those angles I'll have to take a few more vids.
     
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  11. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    I can't get your videos to run.

    But no one has said the following, and yet and it needs to be said.

    If you have sharp pain serving - then you should not be serving.

    Soreness from inactivity is one thing.

    Sharp pain is not so good.

    No one here at Talk Tennis can diagnose what is going on in you.

    The shoulder is just too complicated for us to guess at.

    If it does not get better real fast, you need a proper exam by a shoulder expert who takes care a lot of throwing athletes.

    You are only 18, and certainly do not want to risk screwing up your shoulder by pushing to start a new season with a minor injury you can make major.

    [I don't want to alarm you, but here is part of a post from another currently running thread:
    "Tore the labrum. And was pretty sure I tore the labrum. Weird thing was, I could still play tennis without pain except for serving, had to serve side handed but other than that could play full out ... Basically, try to use a bit more common sense than I did. But I'll tell you what. The last match I played, the one where I felt the shoulder pop? After it popped I KNEW I was done. But it was the second set against a guy I had never beaten. And I REALLY wanted to beat him. So I kept playing, lol. And actually played pretty well. Looking back on it, I'm not sure how the shoulder kept functioning. Must've been adrenaline."
    - http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=446105]


    I really hope this all blows over and you are fine. But don't risk it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
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  12. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Something that I have to address on a semi-regular basis with the folks I coach or teach is the timing of the toss when serving. You got my attention when you said that you can take a practice motion (without hitting a ball) with no pain, so I'm suspicious that you're getting into trouble when you try to get the racquet to your toss on time.

    You might be tossing the ball too soon - before your service windup has progressed enough for you to be good and ready to swing up to contact. I spot this problem constantly, even among some of the pros, but it's a tricky gremlin that might not even show up all the time. When we're not good and ready to take a full, smooth swing over the top, but the toss is up there in the hitting zone, it's usually the shoulder that rushes the racquet up to the ball.

    Yes, this is a big deal. You may need to rebuild your serve's windup and synchronization so that you can get more loaded up before tossing the ball. It may feel seriously awkward at first, but it may also help you build a much more reliable motion. Essentially you want to focus on getting further along to maybe the "trophy position" - delay your toss until your smooth windup is further along.

    Get more familiar with the tempo of that pain-free practice motion and seek that same tempo when you swing at a ball. If that pain-free timing isn't there, you should work on it, even if it's not the root of your problems. If your problem remains chronic, remember that pain means "stop". Get it looked at before something tragic happens.
     
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  13. doublea06

    doublea06 New User

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    Do you see that in my stroke in the videos I put up?
     
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  14. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Great point on technique.

    The two most common problems that strain the shoulder seems to be not getting the chest pointed up at the ball, and not using a vertical shoulder-over shoulder motion.
    Your serve technique doing more harm than good? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgdXawklcZk

    Preventing Rotator Cuff Injury
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTRvxaBMh8s

    At the local courts, and viewing videos submitted in the Tennis Tips/Instruction pages of TT, it seems both of the above problems are prevalent.

    Do you find this as well?

    It certainly makes sense that as servers rush to catch up with a tossed ball because they tossed ... then started to go into a trophy position - that they are more rushed than the pros/those with a great serve who incorporate the tossing motion into part of going into the trophy position.
    In their rush, it is harder to get that chest up at the ball and get that left shoulder up in the trophy position with a loaded bow shape, so they then can direct that left shoulder going down (cartwheel) instead of just swinging the shoulders side to side.
     
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  15. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I have a high ball toss to allow myself time to get into the correct position. It's too bad I just did not learn how to delay my toss and not have to toss it so far up especially on windy days.
     
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  16. dhnels

    dhnels New User

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    One time I went to practice serves and on the first warmup serve (not even half speed) it felt like a large knife went into my shoulder. Excruciating stabbing/burning pain.

    The pain went away quickly, but my shoulder was stiff and sore for several weeks. I tried all the usual self remedies: NSAID, gentle stretching & rotator cuff physical therapy, etc. No change at all. The soreness always got worse at night and started going down my arm with numbness. Seemed like impingement in the shoulder.

    I finally went to see the top shoulder surgeon for sports injury in my area. After some shoulder/neck x-rays and a 20 minute exam, he said my shoulder was 100% healthy! No bone spurs or abnormalities of any kind, no sign of inflammation, etc.

    The problem was a pinched nerve in my neck, between 2 locked vertebrae. Weird, because all the pain & stiffness was in my shoulder/arm and my neck felt completely normal. After some light physical therapy, and a new pillow :shock:, all pain & numbness was gone!

    Moral of the story: see a doctor, it could be good news.
     
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  17. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    A high ball toss (or [gasp] even a slight hitch) may make a teaching pro cringe like dragging fingernails across a chalkboard.
    But getting the chest up, and "forming a bow shape" so you can "cartwheel shoulder over shoulder", is undoubtedly better for your shoulder than rushing it from too low a toss with form that causes impingement.


    But I hear you.

    I struggle with the same thing, sometimes worse than others, but most often if I am not serving/practicing serve for even a relatively short period of time.

    I wish I could do the following, even if I haven't served in a couple of weeks:

    Tossing the Ball into the Service Swing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzbonL75Jsk&feature=player_embedded
    Amazing Roger Federer Serve while eyes are closed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpyDxn4sH7E
     
    #17
  18. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Funny my teaching pro growing up was so anti-hitch. He did not care about the ball toss though. These windy days where fronts are coming through make me long for a lower toss.
     
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  19. mikeespinmusic

    mikeespinmusic Rookie

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    Does it feel like you just having trouble accelerating and then the pain occurs once you do? If so, the racquet is either too stiff, too much weight in the handle - or could use use some lead at 12.00. I know it sounds weird saying add weight, but sometimes extra plough through makes it easier on your shoulder.
     
    #19
  20. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Sorry, but my rickety old computer had trouble getting connected with your video.

    Thanks for posting - if I'm in front of a different computer soon, I'll try to get a look.
     
    #20
  21. asimple

    asimple Semi-Pro

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    It looks to me like you are hitting the ball low and behind you a bit which is effecting your power. I would also say that your timing looks a bit off as you seem to be finishing your rotation (at least with your feet) before you contact and you are not pushing up through the ball but instead kind of stepping down. That is an uninformed opinion though. This seems like a useful exercise and I am definitely going to buy a video camera for my serve.

    As to shoulder pain, I have had this issue since I was about your age and it never went away. I got over it using Advil at the time. I am definitely not recommending this as an option though. What did seem to improve things for me was doing military press to strengthen the shoulder muscles.
     
    #21
  22. doublea06

    doublea06 New User

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    Ok thanks.

    And some good news, I took about a week off to rest my arm (I also went on a skiing trip) and I just played today. I took it easy but most of my serves felt good with my shoulder. I'll just continue slowly progressing and be aware.
     
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