Sciatic Pain Because of Serve

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by ibo, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. ibo

    ibo Rookie

    Apr 14, 2012
    I have been trying to develop a reliable and effective tennis serve for several weeks, with mixed results so far. I have experimented with various starting stances and tosses. I have noticed that when my toss has been at 12 o'clock, it has resulted in some sciatic pain on my right side, lower back down to thigh.

    Toss at 12:30-1:00 does not seem to have the same effect, but so far has not been as good a place for my serve. I reckon that some changes to my overall motion may allow me to do a 12 o'clock toss without the side effects. Perhaps I need to do some knee bending and stuff. Got to try and figure that out.

    Has anyone else had a similar experience ?
  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Post vid.
    You're doing something wrong besides the 12 o clock toss.
    Sciatic pain can hit you hard at age 39, tennis or not.
  3. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

    Jul 29, 2006
    I varied my feet positioning and it helped.

    Also be aware of where your weight is. Sometimes you can improve things by keeping weight over both feet more equally. Or sometimes you can improve things by having the weight mostly on one leg.

    Tight glute muscles need to be stretched before tennis. That was also an issue for me.
  4. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Legend

    Feb 17, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    I once threw my back out trying to learn a new serve technique based on my interpretation of a video. Fortunately, although I could not bend over after I did it the pain went away and there were no farther issues. I believe that I misinterpreted the video or was not aware of what I was actually doing. Now I try to get a much clearer idea of what I should do. Stop if I experience pain. Also, videos of my stroke motions always show me some motions & positions that I don't intend.

    I don't understand this stuff - but if you have a failed disc pressuring your sciatic nerve you have a very serious issue to resolve. One of the many other possible issues relates to complex muscle pressure on the sciatic nerve. For example, . There are any number of other possibilities that require a Dr for diagnosis.

    In any case, see a Dr for a diagnosis and don't experiment with your serve. When the back issue is understood take some suitable video (60p fps minimum shows the body OK but not the fast internal shoulder rotation, wrist motion, ball on racket, etc.).
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  5. dlam

    dlam Semi-Pro

    Aug 3, 2010
    I had sciatica pain from too much serving as well.
    I took some time away from the sport and came back with new way of serving which was more mechanically efficient.
    First I am a pinpoint stance server, I get into all sorts of problems with my tempo and rhythm if i try to platform serve. Then this can lead to back problems for me so I stick with pinpoint as its more natural for me as I instinctly know where my legs are.
    Next I used to have a slight open body alignment to the net and then really arch and twist my back which really damage my back and I am sure was the culprit to disc impingment.
    I now start off with closed body stance that you see 99% of the pros do on tour which was weird for me cause visually I like to take my grip with an open stance like I would for my forehand and see my target on the service court.
    Now I have train to regrip with a closed stance and visualize my target just above the net , standing sideways to the net.
    All I had was a really good serve that last for a few matches now I have a good serve which can last through a tournament or league play.
    I still arch my back but I dont twist my lumbar spine, the support is better because I can load a but more on my pelvis with a closed stance.
    The secret for me is try not to grip first and solidify my grip than stand closed.
    I keep my grip loose until my hips and lower spine are align properly and THEN take my grip or REGRIP.
  6. ibo

    ibo Rookie

    Apr 14, 2012
    Thanks to all who replied.

    I'm not one to avoid the doctor's office but I'd feel dumb saying "well, it WAS hurting". Anyhow, I love ibuprofen.

    Other than that, it will be difficult for me to post a video of exactly which serving position/motion causes the pain for a couple of reasons - one of which is that I have a sense of what it is and I don't want to do it just to prove it. Sciatic pain is nasty.

    One observation I made after writing my post and before reading the replies is that relaxing my racquet arm seems to help make a better serve (duh!), but I suspect also to avoid subsequent pain. One of the replies I got here seems to corroborate that.

    All other points made here are noted. I will be testing the various suggestions.

  7. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    When the doctor wants to test for sciatica, he does the straight leg raise test:


    Pain is relieved by either letting the leg back down, or bending the leg at the knee. Either of these two actions takes the nerve off of stretch.

    So put as much knee bend into your serves as possible to relieve the sciatica.

    You can even start the tossing motion with slightly bent knees, making it easier to continue bending the knees once your arm is straight up above you.

    Notice below that Sampras has slightly bent knees at ball release in pic 1.


    He gets most of his knee bend after his tossing arm is straight up in pics 4-8.
    Indeed, he keeps bending his knees (lowering his upper body in a squat like motion) until he fires his legs when in the trophy position to start the racquet drop.

    Notice also that Pete's backward tilt into his trophy position is a result of bending at the knees with the heels well off the ground. His back is relatively straight; i.e. his backward tilt is not a result of arching his back.
  8. 3fees

    3fees Legend

    Jun 24, 2010
    Side note on Serves,,each particular serve-Flat ,Topspin, Kick, slices, twists has a reference point where its best to hit, besides how to toss the ball(lift and place actually),and of course the grips for each,,hitting a serve out of position,wrong grip will cause stretching in the wrong places, ball toss placement for a kick serve-is best a little behind you--if the ball just fell to the ground and not hit-it would hit the ground near your heel of the front foot, trying to hit a kick serve with ball placed in toe area of front foot causes undue stretching-result pain.

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