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Old 11-28-2012, 09:20 AM   #4
charliefedererer's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 5,639

Originally Posted by tennisenthusiast View Post
Hi All,

I seem to be having left shoulder blade pain only on those days when I play singles or two sets of doubles i.e., when I serve a lot. Does anyone have reasons as to why I would have left shoulder blade pain when I serve intensely? BTW, I am a right-handed player.

Is it because of technique or spin serves or weak shoulder blade related muscles? If so, what are the remedies that I can try?

Also, what can I do to strengthen that area and surrounding area? I am doing thrower's ten exercises (with 1 pound weight) once a week and also doing theraband exercises once a week.

You may need to gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells up to 5 pounds, and increase the frequency of exercise up to three times a week.

From the USTA:

"Rotator Cuff and Shoulder Blade Stabilization

In this article we want to focus on the shoulder and muscles that stabilize that joint. When you talk about tennis and the shoulder the first thing that likely comes to mind is the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is important in tennis, but often times strength imbalances exist within the rotator cuff that can lead to injury. Most notably, tennis players tend to be weak in the muscles that externally rotate the shoulder. External rotation is an outward rotation and is the opposite of the shoulder motion players make when they serve or hit a forehand. To improve strength of the external rotators you can perform the exercises described in this section of the web page. This exercise should be performed with the dominant arm, but should really be performed with both arms if time permits.

Not many people think of the upper back when considering how to strengthen and protect the shoulder. But try this simple drill. Place your hand on the shoulder blades of a player and ask him to raise his arms. Can you feel the shoulder blades move? Shoulder movement is very complex and involves movement of the shoulder blade as well as the actual shoulder joint itself. Weakness in the upper back muscles that stabilize the shoulder blades can cause the shoulder to function improperly and may actually contribute to shoulder pain. Exercises that train the stabilizers of the shoulder blade can help tennis players optimize performance and avoid shoulder injury."

Just increasing the frequency of the thrower's ten and gradually going up on the weight of the dumbbells to 5 pounds may be all you need to strengthen your shoulder blade stabilizers enough to avoid pain in the future.

But you may want to consider other back upper back exercises to make the muscles there even stronger.
Pull-ups are great - but many can't lift their own body weight. Lat pull-downs can be a reasonable substitute. Bent over dumbbell rows are another exercise that will work the upper back if you don't have access to a machine you can do lat pull-downs on.

[Tennis is a great sport - you get conditioning and it's great fun to bash the fuzzy yellow ball.
But it leads to muscle imbalances - the hitting muscles get stronger and stronger, while the muscles that have to resist the hitting can get "stretched out". Plus, the muscles of the non-dominant side don't get near as strong as the hitting side, so there can be pulling across the back of the stronger dominant side over the non-dominant side.
For all these reasons I try to balance out the strength of my hitting and dominant side muscles by doing off court weight lifting.
I do my most serious lifting in the winter when I'm only playing tennis a couple of times a week, although I keep up a regimen year round.
You may want to consider doing some weight training.
Some think they will not get much out of it unless they are lifting heavy weights.
I contend that it is the first little strength gains that are by far the most important in preventing injury.
So you may want to consider devoting some time to a more complete body regimen than the thrower's ten.
At home you can do the following with dumbbells if you do not want to go to a gym (of course you could also do this regimen in a gym with barbells as well). Tennis Weight Training - Exercises of Weight Training for Tennis:
You can read more about WHY it makes sense to exercise to better play tennis with fewer over use injuries at this site, and even do the foundation strength workouts (the maximum strength/power phases are NOT necessary for injury prevention.) The Elite Approach to Tennis Strength Training ]

Last edited by charliefedererer; 11-29-2012 at 07:05 AM.
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