The sporting shoulder and racquet sports by Daniel Browne

With the summer season of tennis and the Australian Open in full swing, we’re starting to see an influx of tennis related injuries. Today we’re going to focus on some of the key exercises surrounding shoulder rehabilitation in our overhead athletes. Notably, by implementing the exercises below in a structured program, when performed correctly, you will decrease your risk of many of the common tennis/overhead racquet and throwing sport type injuries –you may even improve your backhand!!

1. Building a base- the middle back
In order to build a good base for shoulder movement we need to create both strength and mobility through our upper and middle back.

Middle back rotation
– Thoracic open book stretch/archer stretch

Middle back extension
– long lay on foam roller/arching over foam roller

Shoulder blade retraction/row
– double arm banded rows/ single arm banded rows

2. Developing strength and mobility overhead
Racquet and throwing sports require both strength and mobility overhead – this requires excellent control and synchronisation of the muscles of the shoulder blade/upper back region, along with the muscles of the shoulder

Overhead band pull apart


Band resisted shoulder raises


3. Bullet-proofing the rotator cuff
The rotator cuff is a collection of four muscles that attach to the shoulder. It plays an  important role in lifting the arm out to the side, turning the shoulder in and out and serves key roles in stabilising the shoulder in a fixed position (such as when performing a push-up). Of note, these muscles (and corresponding tendons) are commonly worn out/injured after many years of repetitive movement (particularly overhead).

Banded external rotation with scapula set at 0 degrees abduction and 90 degrees abduction


Banded internal rotation with scapular set at 0 degrees abduction and 90 degrees abduction

Push up position plank/ side plank on outstretched arm

Disclaimer: It is important to note every injury is a little different and the following should be used as a guide rather than absolute advice. For a full assessment of your shoulder function or for specific exercise relating to an injury, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Select Physiotherapy and Pilates where we’ll work with you and your coaches to get you back out onto the court sooner!

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