Returning From Injury

Bob on ball machine

Bob on ball machine

Today was my first time hitting balls on the court, 16 days after detaching my biceps tendon. And contrary to my natural tendencies, I am following the excellent advice of my good friend and professional trainer, Larry Starr.

George, my basic advice for return to active goes like this:

Pain free on normal activities – getting dressed, sleeping, picking up daily items;
Full range of motion without pain;
Regain of at least 80% of strength.

When those three criteria are reached, begin a progressive return to play over several days. The progression should be …

1) Shadow swinging of the racket;

2) Hitting off the wall;

3) Hitting off a ball machine or someone who can feed you balls well;

4) Light hitting with someone who has fairly good ball control;

4) Maybe a fun or simulated match;

5) If all goes well from the above, return to play!

As for the time frame, it depends on how quickly to accomplish each step without pain or setbacks. Knowing you and your high level of fitness, that could be very quickly. Although it may seem like baby steps, it is the best way to avoid any re-injury or causing chronic pain/soreness.

I hope this helps. Good luck,”

Larry
Larry M. Starr, Ed.D, ATC, LAT, CSCS, USPTA
President – Starr Athletic Solutions, LLC

I started the process last Saturday (11 days after the injury!), completed step #3 today (with Bob Wilkie and the ball machine) and will move to step #4 on Monday. No pain at all! Thanks to the great advice from Larry.

Father/Son Champsron t and son

Congratulations to SW Florida’s Ron Tonidandel, who teamed with his son Jeff to win back to back National Ultra Father-Son National Hard Court Championships.

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5 thoughts on “Returning From Injury

  1. Hi George, From my rotator surgery five years ago and P.T. spanning over a year (with the usual goals of strength and range of motion, etc) – my primary focus now is hitting with very loose and relaxed motions. It seems you have strong legs and core which allow you to seek “racquet speed”. With your shadow swings, you probably notice little pain. The problems come when hitting “live shots” and having to make those last second adjustments requiring a jolt of muscle effort, or the natural tendency to have a clean sitter and wanting to pound it away. I can tell you from officiating both high level juniors up to Pac 12 collegiate – loose, relaxed and well-timed movements can help protect your limbs (in my opinion). Good luck

    Bob, good to hear from you! And you are right on target about trying to not “muscle the ball” as i normally do. Time to loosen up. thanks, george

  2. George,

    Very happy to hear you are progressing at at good pace, which does not surprise me. Based on your excellent fitness level and past history. I am sure you will but please do not forget the rest of your body – continue leg and core work, stretching, and endurance. I would agree with Bob also that it is a big step going from shadow to live hitting. The same can be said when progressing to more aggressive hitting and matches themselves. Keep it up and good luck.

    Larry

    Larry, all have been doing for three weeks is working on the rest of my body! And will continue. Thanks for all you do for us aging athletes. George

  3. Hello George,
    You may want to consider using a modified ball and/or modified racquet size, for your return-to-play post-injury progression. A modified ball adds less weight/resistance to your racquet-to-ball-contact, giving your body a chance to adapt to the racquet weight and resistance moving through the motions – foam ball first, next orange (50% compressed), then green, prior to regular yellow ball.

    A lighter racquet gives the bicep less weight, giving you possibly more comfort during your shadow swinging and even ball to racquet contact. Many veterans returning from shoulder, elbow, or wrist injuries or surgery like the option of lighter equipment options, which have given them a smoother transition back to regulation equipment with less pain and more comfort during the adaptation.

    Yes, they are slower and lighter, but give you more control with less effort, following the same principles given to you in your original post. Injuries require modifications, and we often forget the modified balls and racquets are tools to help with slow and steady progression, and more preparation time.

    Christine, great advice. In fact, i started out with my six year old grandson’s little raquet and a kid ball! thanks, george

  4. I see that my good friend Larry Starr had to leave off a few abbreviations behind his name. I am guessing he ran out of space on his business card. :-). But seriously, Larry is absolutely the most knowledgable person that I have ever met regarding sports injuries, their prevention and their treatment. Apparently, some of those abbreviations are real.

    Marty, as is Larry’s dedication! thanks, george

  5. Hi George, From my rotator surgery five years ago and P.T. spanning over a year (with the usual goals of strength and range of motion, etc) – my primary focus now is hitting with very loose and relaxed motions. It seems you have strong legs and core which allow you to seek “racquet speed”. With your shadow swings, you probably notice little pain. The problems come when hitting “live shots” and having to make those last second adjustments requiring a jolt of muscle effort, or the natural tendency to have a clean sitter and wanting to pound it away. I can tell you from officiating both high level juniors up to Pac 12 collegiate – loose, relaxed and well-timed movements can help protect your limbs (in my opinion). Good luck

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