Studies show that forces equivalent to at least 120 percent of a person’s body weight slam through the rotator cuff during a typical tennis serve or baseball pitch. To withstand that pounding, the rotator cuff needs to be strong.
But many of us, including tennis players, have relatively weak rotator cuff muscles. “Playing tennis builds up the muscles in the front of the shoulder, but it doesn’t build up those in the back very much,” says Todd Ellenbecker, the clinic director at Physiotherapy Associates Scottsdale Sports Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., and senior director of medical services for the ATP World Tour, the men’s professional tennis circuit.
To isolate and strengthen the rotator cuff, Mr. Ellenbecker recommends simple exercises that you can do at home and that require only a stretchy exercise band or length of elastic tubing and a rolled-up towel. You can find more information and step-by-step instructions for a number of these exercises, which Mr. Ellenbecker prescribes for professional tennis players, at “How to Fix a Bad Tennis Shoulder.”
Don’t wait to start the program, by the way, until your shoulders ache. “These exercises are excellent for preventing shoulder injuries,” Mr. Ellenbecker said, “in addition to rehabilitating injured shoulders.”
How is YOUR shoulder doing? And what are you doing?
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