Tennis and Shoulder Injuries


Tennis and shoulder injuriesThis is the second piece about tennis related injuries and it seems very appropriate with Wimbledon starting in about two week’s time. There is a love of tennis for two weeks of the year and there is always a sudden rush of individuals to the local tennis courts and of course if you are not used to playing tennis during the rest of the year you may be prone to injury, and in tennis the shoulder is a common place to get a problem.

Tennis requires a lot of high velocity movement from the shoulder and during a game you subject the shoulder to a lot of acceleration and deceleration. This is of course most apparent during the serve. If you dont try and play like Nadal and stick to an underarm serve you will be fine!



Behind the ‘shoulder pain’ lurks muscular damage. Some of the muscles will weaken and some will tighten creating an imbalance. This imbalance is complicated in the shoulder due to the vast range of motion a shoulder can move through and due to the complexity of the shoulder joint anatomy that allows the shoulder to move with the freedom that it does and in particular the rotation of the joint.

anatomy of the shoulder showing rotator cuffRotator cuff tears: the rotator cuff provides stability to the shoulder joint during rotation and can either be acute or chronic.

• Pain on overhead activity such as throwing or racket sports.
• Pain when you bend the arm and rotate it outwards against resistance.
• Pain on the outside of the shoulder possibly radiating down into the arm.
• Pain in the shoulder which is worse at night.
• Stiffness in the shoulder joint.




Impingement injury: this is when the tendons of the rotator cuff become trapped in the shoulder joint. Repeated impingement can lead to inflammation and thickening of the tendons, which in turn will result in more impingement and trapping of the inflamed tendons.

• Pain in the shoulder when the arm is lifted above the horizontal.
• Pain is often present when the arms are raised up and out to the side in a 60 degree arc between the angles of 70 and 130 degrees - worse at around 90 degrees.
• Pain if the arm is lifted quickly forwards and upwards by the therapist.
• Pain when the arm is lifted forwards and upwards as far as it will go with the arm rotated inwards.
• If the condition becomes chronic there will often be pain when the athlete is at rest, especially at night.

These are just two of the most common shoulder injuries that arise from tennis but equally any throwing sport or weight lifting activity can cause a shoulder injury. If left untreated they can develop into something more completed and the rehabilitation then becomes a longer process.

the shoulder has to externally rotate during the serve and this puts a lot of tension into the rotator cuff muscles

This article will be followed by one on shoulder self-help exercises.







During June we are offering a FREE SHOULDER CONSULTATION with our sports injury physiotherapist on a Wednesday evening. If you have a shoulder problem or know someone that does please get them to call The Angel Sports Injury and Physiotherapy Clinic and arrange an appointment with our physiotherapist Verity Simon.