Overuse injuries are a very familiar subject among both professional athletes and amateur sports fans. They are caused by repetitive movements which, without proper strengthening can lead to wear and tear and eventually to the injury of the soft tissue.
These type of injuries usually start with a small niggle but when left untreated can result in many weeks or months off your favourite sport and that is why every athlete from professional to recreational should never forget about regular strengthening of the crucial muscles to minimise the risk of injuries.
In this blog post, we are going to talk about one of the most common injuries among tennis players, which is the rotator cuff injury.
What is the Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the scapula bone. These subtle muscles lie just beneath the larger shoulder musculature ( Pectoralis major, Deltoid, Latissimus Dorsi) and even though they are not capable of generating much force, they play a fundamental role in stabilising and controlling the movement of the shoulder joint. The integrity and coordinated function of these muscles are crucial in preventing an injury of the shoulder joint.
The Rotator Cuff injuries usually manifest with a dull pain in the shoulder, which often worsens with the use of the arm away from the body, e.g. during a tennis serve or shot. The pain may sometimes get stronger at night, leading to sleep disruption. It is also often accompanied by arm weakness and when left untreated can lead to further complications, e.g. frozen shoulder.
Rotator cuff injuries can be either caused by substantial damage to the muscles like muscle tears or by gradual wear and tear of the tissue due to the repetitive overhead activity (like during a tennis shot), over a prolonged period of time. The risk of damage rises with age and is very common among the tennis players of all ages and abilities.
As we all know, prevention is better than curing and so the Rotator cuff injuries can, and should be prevented with regular shoulder strengthening exercises. Many people only train front muscles of the chest, shoulder, and upper arm, not giving much attention to the deeper muscles around the shoulder blades.
Here are some exercises that target the rotator cuff muscles, which you can try yourself, that can help strengthen and optimise the balance of the shoulder joint. When performed regularly, they can greatly reduce your chances of developing rotator cuff injury and make sure you can enjoy your game pain-free.
For further information about shoulder injuries you can visit the NHS website.
If you think you might be suffering from a rotator cuff injury and need some specialist advice about how to deal with it, do not hesitate to contact us at Ealing Fitness Clinic, where we can diagnose and treat with a bespoke exercise programme designed especially for your needs by our team of trainers, sports therapists, and osteopaths.