Are stiff rackets prone to causing shoulder AC joint injuries?

Is it possible that my choice of racket and choice of string is causing my current injury - right shoulder AC join sprain?
I ask because love my racket (Babolat Pure Drive 2015) and would rather not switch if not necessary.

I'm 43 years old, 4.5/5.0 rating, and play 2-3 times per week. I use poly in my mains and synthetic gut in my crosses.
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
Is it possible that my choice of racket and choice of string is causing my current injury - right shoulder AC join sprain?
I ask because love my racket (Babolat Pure Drive 2015) and would rather not switch if not necessary.

I'm 43 years old, 4.5/5.0 rating, and play 2-3 times per week. I use poly in my mains and synthetic gut in my crosses.
In my experience, stiff racquets usually cause wrist and elbow pain. The shock of impact hits those joints first. Shoulder pain is usually from racquet weight (could be too much or sometimes even too little). Of course this is all ignoring the possible technique components.
 
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In my experience, stiff racquets usually cause wrist and elbow pain. The shock of impact hits those joints first. Shoulder pain is usually from racquet weight (could be too much or sometimes even too little). Of course this is all ignoring the possible technique components.
This. Also whatever you do, make sure your swing is smooth, controlled, and transfer your weight into the shot. And make sure your stringbed is able to actually deform and pocket the ball, i.e. pick strings that suit your level and style of playing. Pros can use poly at high tensions and get away with it because they hit hard enough (usually with higher swingweight) to still actually deform the stringbed.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Cut out the poly after 15 hours if you don’t break it sooner. Then, you can keep playing with your stiff racquet at your age.
 
I have had AC joint pain for a couple of months now but have checked that nothing is torn. I play Blade 98 2015 which has a sw of 330+ and combined with lousy technique when serving is my main problem. Not tossing high enough and therefor need to rush the serve motion. Now I can play 100% but is sore and stiff in the shoulder the day after. Proper warm up, right technique and movement/strenth training is my cure. Stiff racquets for sure does not help but I believe racquet weight and over training can trigger shoulder problems
 
Lose the poly. You can string solid core or multi-filament syn gut tighter if you wish. What grip do you use for your forehand? Would you characterize your swings as smooth?
 
Lose the poly. You can string solid core or multi-filament syn gut tighter if you wish. What grip do you use for your forehand? Would you characterize your swings as smooth?
String - I may try Head's Velocity MLT string as I hear good things about it. I usually cut my poly string out after 5 hours of use because they feel dead after that.
Grip - the common semi-western
Swing - took lessons since 8 years old and swing is smooth. Have always been observed as a smooth/good technique player so I don't suspect that's the issue. I may need to take a closer look at my kick serve technique however - it might be too much torque on my shoulder at my age because I tend to make contact a little behind my head. Still hurts like a b*tch when I hit a forehand though.
 

pvw_tf

Rookie
Is it possible that my choice of racket and choice of string is causing my current injury - right shoulder AC join sprain?
I ask because love my racket (Babolat Pure Drive 2015) and would rather not switch if not necessary.

I'm 43 years old, 4.5/5.0 rating, and play 2-3 times per week. I use poly in my mains and synthetic gut in my crosses.
Yes it can but does not have to be. Compare it with cars. Once you have you driver license you can drive...... But can you drive any car. It is a different ballgame if you have to drive a high end sports car. That is a different ball game. And driving Formula 1 car well do not talk about it. I all cars the tires are the most important part. In formula 1 how long do you keep them what do you select Soft, medium, hard. For more mortal people , Mud & Snow, cheap or high end. Proper air pressure makes a big difference.

With rackets the strings are comparable with the tires.

If you have a high end racket, but have limit in technique it is possible a player can not handle it. Or you hit the ball high in the frame (or low) it is possible the racket you are using does not fit you. This can result in problems with arms and shoulder. The strings (the tires) can make it all more gentle. Using multi string is more gentle in the arm, shoulder. The right tension and right string job can make a difference too.

You could try multi strings and select the more thicker ones if it does not last long enough. It still be more friendly then poly strings.

Question too if you racket is not getting old. 2015 is a long time ago. And you write you out your strings after 5 hours. The racket must have had a bigger number of strings jobs. Rackets do not last for ever. 30 string jobs a racket is for ahigher end racket the max.

Peter
 

Crocodile

Legend
My answer is Yes it can. Stiff racquets and strings are particularly noticeable when you hit serves and smashes.
If you want to test out this theory go and buy yourself a Pro Kennex Black Ave 300 or 315 strung in gut and then feel the difference to a Pure Drive strung in polyester. Even a frame like a Volkl V. 8 Pro with its comfort technology within its handle will make a difference.
 
Yes it can but does not have to be. Compare it with cars. Once you have you driver license you can drive...... But can you drive any car. It is a different ballgame if you have to drive a high end sports car. That is a different ball game. And driving Formula 1 car well do not talk about it. I all cars the tires are the most important part. In formula 1 how long do you keep them what do you select Soft, medium, hard. For more mortal people , Mud & Snow, cheap or high end. Proper air pressure makes a big difference.

With rackets the strings are comparable with the tires.

If you have a high end racket, but have limit in technique it is possible a player can not handle it. Or you hit the ball high in the frame (or low) it is possible the racket you are using does not fit you. This can result in problems with arms and shoulder. The strings (the tires) can make it all more gentle. Using multi string is more gentle in the arm, shoulder. The right tension and right string job can make a difference too.

You could try multi strings and select the more thicker ones if it does not last long enough. It still be more friendly then poly strings.

Question too if you racket is not getting old. 2015 is a long time ago. And you write you out your strings after 5 hours. The racket must have had a bigger number of strings jobs. Rackets do not last for ever. 30 string jobs a racket is for ahigher end racket the max.

Peter
Wow, 30 string jobs per racket for the life cycle. Yikes.
 

max

Legend
The OP is asking a basic question. OF course stiff racquets transmit more shock.

Antidotes are lead tape and a softer string.

Polyester strings have really been over sold----but perhaps in many instances poly is used to "tame" or "tamp down" the excess power one gets from a stiff frame.

Maybe frames can be too stiff?
 
The OP is asking a basic question. OF course stiff racquets transmit more shock.

Antidotes are lead tape and a softer string.

Polyester strings have really been over sold----but perhaps in many instances poly is used to "tame" or "tamp down" the excess power one gets from a stiff frame.

Maybe frames can be too stiff?
Agreed that polys are over sold. The typical players really doesn't need it but I do have to admit, it's tough to beat a fresh bed of poly. I'm trying a multi-filament next to see if I can enjoy that.
 
You probably mean do stiff rackets cause me pain or problems specifically. I would do an experiment, try a clash or Yonex 97 HD for a month, if you feel a difference, might want to switch rackets to get a few extra years out of your shoulder, if not......you get the idea.
 

daman sidhu

New User
I am the same age as you(43), I switched from Babolat to Head to now a Yonex EZoneTour which is less stiffer frame(62RA) due to similar issues with shoulder. I prefer a hybrid of synth. gut and poly which is easy on the arm and still gives me some of that poly bite.
I would also throw in a few shoulder strengthening exercises once your shoulder heals. With aging I feel once I went back to weight training and flexibility work it's helped me immensely. I also use a massage gun(theragun) frequently.
 

max

Legend
The first racquet I fell in love with was the Dunlop Max 200 G. That's why I'm "max" here. Very soft racquet, heavy, dense string pattern.

A more open pattern is less shocky.

I never gave poly strings much of a try, but have some in my box. Perhaps I should. I just felt that (a) my shoulder/elbow wouldn't welcome the shock, (b) I'm not a backcourt heavy topspin player, (c) the strings are costly, and (d) they go dead quickly.

Just too many negatives. I try to find what works best with syn gut and change the syn gut out regularly.
 

n8dawg6

Legend
my shoulders are bad in the first place, but i really jacked mine up this year with my serving form. ive been hitting a kick mostly and letting the toss get behind my head. in a nutshell, it was putting way too much strain on the shoulder.

i used to think it had everything to do with poly strings, stiff frame, heavy frame, etc etc ... those can all be exacerbating factors, but they arent the primary source of shoulder pain.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Do you add lead tape to weigh up your racquet? Some people are prone to shoulder issues if they play with a racquet that is too heavy beyond what their fitness/strength allows them to swing freely especially when they are tired. You might want a coach to look at your serve technique also as some bad habits can lead to shoulder problems.
 
It seems even pro's are spending more time out with medical issues related to elbows, shoulders and wrists. Djokovic, Del Potro, Laura Robson come to mind players that have had wrist surgery. Serena, Djokovic, Cirstea have had to sit out to rest their shoulders. Stiff rackets and poly strings can't be helping them.
 

Power Player

Talk Tennis Guru
It seems even pro's are spending more time out with medical issues related to elbows, shoulders and wrists. Djokovic, Del Potro, Laura Robson come to mind players that have had wrist surgery. Serena, Djokovic, Cirstea have had to sit out to rest their shoulders. Stiff rackets and poly strings can't be helping them.
Most of those players named use rather soft frames and gut hybrid setups.
 
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pvw_tf

Rookie
Wow, 30 string jobs per racket for the life cycle. Yikes.
It is bit depending on what racket you play. Some rackets it is less the 30, mostly the more softer frames, which are more suitable for not high end players. Some rackets can have more.
You do not notice it, a frame gradually looses its default stiffness, so you start to more do to get the same speed, also off center balls start to have more (negative) impact.

When you take same racket (but new) as you are playing with straight from the older one you will find a lot more control and with the same hits up to 5 - 10 km/h more speed. Bit depending on you level of play.

So yes it is advisable to keep an eye on the number of string jobs in a rackets.

Peter
 

cortado

Rookie
It is bit depending on what racket you play. Some rackets it is less the 30, mostly the more softer frames, which are more suitable for not high end players. Some rackets can have more.
You do not notice it, a frame gradually looses its default stiffness, so you start to more do to get the same speed, also off center balls start to have more (negative) impact.

When you take same racket (but new) as you are playing with straight from the older one you will find a lot more control and with the same hits up to 5 - 10 km/h more speed. Bit depending on you level of play.

So yes it is advisable to keep an eye on the number of string jobs in a rackets.

Peter
So, if you desire a softer frame, your stiff frame is just going to get better with time?
 

1HBHfanatic

Legend
It seems even pro's are spending more time out with medical issues related to elbows, shoulders and wrists. Djokovic, Del Potro, Laura Robson come to mind players that have had wrist surgery. Serena, Djokovic, Cirstea have had to sit out to rest their shoulders. Stiff rackets and poly strings can't be helping them.
-forgot nishikory and jack.sock, also wrist issues
-btw, is anyone surprised that Jack.Sock has wrist issues??? not me!
 
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tlm

G.O.A.T.
Is it possible that my choice of racket and choice of string is causing my current injury - right shoulder AC join sprain?
I ask because love my racket (Babolat Pure Drive 2015) and would rather not switch if not necessary.

I'm 43 years old, 4.5/5.0 rating, and play 2-3 times per week. I use poly in my mains and synthetic gut in my crosses.
Babolat and poly equals arm problems.
 
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Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
Babolat and poly equals arm problems.
Only for those who ...

1/ Have poor stroke technique and cannot hit cleanly
2/ Do not understand how to select the proper racquet for their level
3/ Do not understand how to select the proper string for their level
4/ Do not understand that racquets must be restrung with fresh string more frequently than they think
5/ Do not understand that any tennis racquet can be customised to eliminate vibrations that can cause physical damage.
6/ Do not understand that the physical body requires proper preparation before playing tennis and proper recovery afterwards.

So yes, if you fall into any one of those categories above, you may be correct. And the more categories you fit into, the more correct you will be.

(Interestingly, in my circle, I have witnessed Wilson RF97 cause a lot more arm related injuries than any Babolat racquet has ...for exactly the same reasons mentioned above.)

BTW, most tennis related SHOULDER injuries are caused by the following ...

1/ Poor service stroke technique
2/ Racquet Balance is to Head Heavy
3/ Racquet is too Heavy
4/ DT of stringbed is too high.
5/ Grip of Tennis racquet is incorrect size for player (usually too small)
6/ Stringbed has exceeded its optimum playability duration.
 
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socallefty

Hall of Fame
I like the post above by @Karma Tennis. If rec players cut out poly strings within 15 hours in case they don’t break it before that, you will probably not see so many arm and elbow issues.

Also Babolat does not only mean stiffer tweeners like the Pure Aero and Pure Drive. Babolat has made a lot of low-mid stiffness, thin beam, heavy (12 oz) racquets over the years like the Pure Control, AeroPro Control, Pure Storm, AeroStorm, Pure Strike VS Tour and Pure Strike Tour. These racquets are stable and arm-friendly.

Every racquet brand makes stiff, light racquets in addition to players racquets that are more flexible. It is just that Babolat makes very popular ones like the Pure Aero and Pure Drive and their whole brand has been defined in many people’s minds by just these two racquets. The reality is that they make racquets that are suitable for all kinds of levels and playing styles and that’s why they have become the #2 or #3 racquet brand within 25 years against their more established competition. If everyone playing with Babolat was getting injured as this board would have you believe, they would not be popular so much amongst women, juniors, college players and pros along with rec men.

If you want to find out what is really causing tennis elbow issues, ask every friend with that injury what strings/tension they play with and how long they have been playing with that string. You will find a high % that plays with poly at tensions above 55 lbs and then plays with them for many months without breaking them even though they are long-dead and transmitting a lot of vibration to the player’s arm. Usually the racquet gets blamed for causing the injury instead of their idiocy to play with dead poly for a long time to save $20 on restringing more regularly. The fault also lies with the poly string companies and stringers who don’t inform their customers that poly comes with an extremely limited lifetime of less than 20 hours for retaining its elasticity/resiliency which is what helps to damp vibrations from ball impact.
 
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tennis347

Professional
Only for those who ...

1/ Have poor stroke technique and cannot hit cleanly
2/ Do not understand how to select the proper racquet for their level
3/ Do not understand how to select the proper string for their level
4/ Do not understand that racquets must be restrung with fresh string more frequently than they think
5/ Do not understand that any tennis racquet can be customised to eliminate vibrations that can cause physical damage.
6/ Do not understand that the physical body requires proper preparation before playing tennis and proper recovery afterwards.

So yes, if you fall into any one of those categories above, you may be correct. And the more categories you fit into, the more correct you will be.

(Interestingly, in my circle, I have witnessed Wilson RF97 cause a lot more arm related injuries than any Babolat racquet has ...for exactly the same reasons mentioned above.)

BTW, most tennis related SHOULDER injuries are caused by the following ...

1/ Poor service stroke technique
2/ Racquet Balance is to Head Heavy
3/ Racquet is too Heavy
4/ DT of stringbed is too high.
5/ Grip of Tennis racquet is incorrect size for player (usually too small)
6/ Stringbed has exceeded its optimum playability duration.
You hit every valid point exactly!!
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
Is it possible that my choice of racket and choice of string is causing my current injury - right shoulder AC join sprain?
In my experience, stiff racquets usually cause wrist and elbow pain
Yes, wrist and elbow pain. Shoulder is several joints removed from the impact so it seems most unlikely a stiff racquet would affect the shoulder. Heavy racquet? Certainly.
 

Sahbatage

New User
Only for those who ...

5/ Do not understand that any tennis racquet can be customised to eliminate vibrations that can cause physical damage.
So string choice, use of a dampener, adding weight in the hoop, thicker shock absorbing replacement grips? Has there been actual testing on the reduction in vibration from adding silicone or foam to the handle? Silicone can add quite a bit of weight, right?

Anything missed?
 

droliver

Professional
This has nothing to do with your racquet, it's your rotator cuff tendons getting irritated as they pass through a bony narrowing out to your shoulder. When you abduct/externally rotate your arm, as in a serve motion, the tendon space is the tightest and commonly makes this pain.

What you're describing is called "impingement syndrome", which is a very common orthopedic condition. Prevention of this is what you see all the pros doing with those elastic bands working on their internal/external rotation. Treatment is usually rest, anti inflamatories, and some self exercises. If that fails, a steroid injection may be tried, but it's not very effective for chronic impingment. The surgery for it involves reaming out part of your should blade (the acromium) to give more room for the tendon to glide without getting pinched. I've had to have it done to both shoulders.

 

pvw_tf

Rookie
So, if you desire a softer frame, your stiff frame is just going to get better with time?
A stiff frame is getting more flexible yes. But still will not suitable for a lesser player. Or someone who hits the ball in a different area then the frame its sweat spot. So not I would not recommend it. For example the old sampres pro staff, head prestige are just high end rackets. The same for RF Autograph. They will become more flexible over time but that does not make them suitable for anyone, still not easy to deal with rackets. Just stick in what you can handle.

The right racket for your game and level.

Peter
 

Bagumbawalla

Hall of Fame
If you have been playing since 8 years old and have smooth strokes, the racket would seem to be the culprit.
I looked up the customer reviews and almost everyone complained of stiffness and arm pain.
Obviously there are things you can do to try and mitigate the effects on your arm/shoulder.
Many ideas are mentioned, above.
In the mean time, I suggest you try looking for something a bit more arm-friendly.
Possible option- the ProKennex ki 10 (315), but that is just a starting place.
Demo a few rackets. See what's out there. You may find something that you like-
and not just a poor compromise.
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
String - I may try Head's Velocity MLT string as I hear good things about it. I usually cut my poly string out after 5 hours of use because they feel dead after that.
Grip - the common semi-western
Swing - took lessons since 8 years old and swing is smooth. Have always been observed as a smooth/good technique player so I don't suspect that's the issue. I may need to take a closer look at my kick serve technique however - it might be too much torque on my shoulder at my age because I tend to make contact a little behind my head. Still hurts like a b*tch when I hit a forehand though.
That would be the first thing to look at, once you've treated your shoulder. Seems like you're over-extending your joint by having to reach out for a ball behind your head.

As for racquets, as others have mentioned, shoulder injuries are typically caused by racquets being too heavy rather than too stiff.
 

yossarian

Semi-Pro
This has nothing to do with your racquet, it's your rotator cuff tendons getting irritated as they pass through a bony narrowing out to your shoulder. When you abduct/externally rotate your arm, as in a serve motion, the tendon space is the tightest and commonly makes this pain.

What you're describing is called "impingement syndrome", which is a very common orthopedic condition. Prevention of this is what you see all the pros doing with those elastic bands working on their internal/external rotation. Treatment is usually rest, anti inflamatories, and some self exercises. If that fails, a steroid injection may be tried, but it's not very effective for chronic impingment. The surgery for it involves reaming out part of your should blade (the acromium) to give more room for the tendon to glide without getting pinched. I've had to have it done to both shoulders.

An AC joint sprain is not shoulder impingement

also the subacromial space is minimal when the shoulder is elevated and internally rotated. It’s what Neer’s test is designed to do
 

Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
the below study suggests otherwise,
The study you link to is directed at Tennis Coaches - and makes no mention of the influence of stroke technique.

One would think the Players involved in the study have decent serve stroke techniques. In that instance, we should not be surprised that players who can handle heavier racquets are less likely to have shoulder issues using properly configured heavier racquets compared to using lighter racquets.

Regardless of the equipment used, everything begins and ends with stroke technique. The best insurance is to have proper stroke technique. The better the technique, the easier it is to select, customise and maintain tennis equipment that will facilitate optimum playing performance while minimising the probability of injury.
 
I am the same age as you(43), I switched from Babolat to Head to now a Yonex EZoneTour which is less stiffer frame(62RA) due to similar issues with shoulder. I prefer a hybrid of synth. gut and poly which is easy on the arm and still gives me some of that poly bite.
I would also throw in a few shoulder strengthening exercises once your shoulder heals. With aging I feel once I went back to weight training and flexibility work it's helped me immensely. I also use a massage gun(theragun) frequently.
I did see a doctor a week ago and he gave me a long litany of stretches and exercises to do everyday. We'll see how it goes. I may try that Yonex too.
 

Yamin

Semi-Pro
Probably not the cause but it can certainly make it worse. It's hard to make a Babolat more comfort oriented with string setup because it usually becomes too powerful. Normally I say drop your tension or use soft poly but these might not have enough control. Give head velocity or prince pure control a shot for a single string job. If you're over hitting or still find it uncomfortable you may need to start looking into other rackets.
 

yossarian

Semi-Pro
Any tests worth doing to determine if its AC joint sprain vs. impingement. My doctor told me it was joint sprain fyi.
Yes. There are a series of tests for impingement

the primary test to assess for an ac joint sprain is the cross body horizontal adduction test. Also your pain will be right on the ac joint

your doctor is most likely right
 

droliver

Professional
Any tests worth doing to determine if its AC joint sprain vs. impingement. My doctor told me it was joint sprain fyi.
You don't really have a mechanism of injury (think like a fall on an outstretched arm or getting tackled with forced abduction of the shoulder) you've described to think you have a partial dislocation and ligament tear (which is what a "sprain of the AC joint" is in layman terms). Pain with external rotation and extension, like an overhead or service motion, is almost pathognomic for an inflammatory process involving the rotator cuff and subacromial bursae in people that play a lot of tennis. Pretty much every pro goes through bouts of this over time. All those elasti band exercises they do at courtside and the kineso tape you see framing people's right shoulder are pretty much directed at varying degrees of impingement syndrome. The longer it lasts, the less likely it is to resolve without surgery. When pro's have arthroscopy "to clean things out", they're usually having removal of the bursae and shaving of the acromium process.


your doctor is most likely right
Not based on the story. An AC sprain is a very specific injury
 
An update for anybody who's interested. Had an MRI done and
This has nothing to do with your racquet, it's your rotator cuff tendons getting irritated as they pass through a bony narrowing out to your shoulder. When you abduct/externally rotate your arm, as in a serve motion, the tendon space is the tightest and commonly makes this pain.

What you're describing is called "impingement syndrome", which is a very common orthopedic condition. Prevention of this is what you see all the pros doing with those elastic bands working on their internal/external rotation. Treatment is usually rest, anti inflamatories, and some self exercises. If that fails, a steroid injection may be tried, but it's not very effective for chronic impingment. The surgery for it involves reaming out part of your should blade (the acromium) to give more room for the tendon to glide without getting pinched. I've had to have it done to both shoulders.

Here's the latest update - you seem to be right. Had an MRI done and I don't have any torn rotator cuff tendons however the AC joint is huge and inflamed. I'm seeing a surgeon for a 2nd opinion. My doctor seems to think that a surgery (reaming) will be required.
 
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