March means the beginning of the high school boy’s tennis season in Kansas and Missouri! Combined with the weather beginning to warm up, tennis participation across age groups is going to really start to pick up. With our satellite clinic located inside of Overland Park Racquet Club, we see our fair share of tennis players of all ages and abilities. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that while most injuries in tennis are acute injuries to the lower extremity (think ankle sprains), that most chronic issues occur in the upper extremity! Of those chronic issues, approximately 25% of those issues were shoulder related, which held true across age groups. We have found with our tennis players that these issues arise from a combination of poor shoulder blade mechanics and poor mid back motor control. Today we are going to cover a way to improve both to keep your shoulders healthy!
We like to start with some sort of soft tissue work to get your muscles and joints loosened up. When addressing the mid back and shoulder blades, foam rollers tend to shine, but really you can use any tool you feel comfortable with. Spending a minute or two rolling on your mid back and shoulder blades will create a temporary increase in range of motion that we can take advantage of in our next step.
After we have created some extra range of motion with our soft tissue work, we want to reinforce that range of motion with a mobility exercise. There are a ton of exercise options to choose from in this case, but one of our favorites is what we call ‘mad cat/old horse’. Begin on all 4’s with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend your back upward into a “mad cat” position. Next, flex your back downward to sag into an “old horse” position. Beautifully simple and exceptionally effective!
Now that we have created more range of motion and reinforced it with our mobility exercise, we want to add some resistance. Similar to the mobility exercise, there are a ton of options for adding resistance to challenge the shoulder blades and mid back. Today we are going to cover a simple banded pull apart. Begin by gripping a light band approximately shoulder width apart at shoulder height. Simultaneously pull both arms apart until the band touches your chest. For maximal effectiveness, pull your shoulder blades together as the band gets closer to your chest, and actively reach your arms away from you at the start of the movement. This exercise teaches you to be aware of where your shoulder blades are in space while strengthening the new range of motion we created earlier!
This simple set of exercises is a great starting point for developing healthy shoulders, but it is far from a complete program for such a complex joint. Combine the complexity of the shoulder joint with the highly technical nature of tennis, and it becomes all the more important to have access to professional help. We recommend our friends at Overland Park Racquet Club for help with your tennis game, but any qualified professional you are comfortable working with will be helpful!
While we see a lot of issues with shoulder blade mechanics and mid back motor control in our clinic, we also see shoulder pain stemming from a host of other issues as well. The key to shoulder injuries is appropriate diagnosis by a professional (like the providers in our office). Once a diagnosis is made, an appropriate plan of care can be established emphasizing complete ranges of motion with stability throughout those ranges of motion. If you are experiencing persistent shoulder pain, call our office or schedule online today!
We are entering the thick of basketball season! Games are adding up, and each is becoming more important than the last. At Inside Sports Clinic, we believe one of the best athletic abilities is availability. It is tough to help your team win games if you are sidelined with an injury! Taking care of your body down the stretch is critically important to increasing the likelihood you are available to help your team. A study by the National Athletic Trainer Association showed that over 40% of high school basketball injuries are sprain-type injuries to the foot/ankle. This coincides with what we see in our clinic, with lateral ankle sprains being an injury we see A LOT in our basketball players. Today we are going to cover an effective strategy for strengthening ankles for basketball players!
To start, we like to do some self-administered soft tissue work to loosen the muscles and joints we are targeting. We are big fans of foam rollers for this purpose, but you can use a massage gun, PVC roller, or any other soft tissue tool you have access to that you feel comfortable utilizing. Spending a minute or two working on the calves and ankles creates a temporary increase in range of motion, which feeds into our next step perfectly!
After you have worked on the muscles and joints, we want to reinforce that temporary range of motion we just created with some simple stretching. In the case of the ankle, a top tier stretch choice is the ankle driver! By getting into a deep lunge position and driving your knee towards and over the big toe, we can begin to make our temporary range of motion into a newly acquired range of motion!
Now that we have created a new range of motion and begun to solidify it, we want to add some resistance to create more permanent changes. The age old classic for strengthening the ankles is a simple calf raise. Beginning with the balls of the feet slightly elevated, push through the foot to raise your body up. Hold the position at the top for a second or two, then slowly lower yourself down. As you become more comfortable with the basic calf raise, adding in some variety could be useful for basketball players considering the dynamic nature of the sport! This could mean performing a single leg calf raise, bent knee calf raise, adding extra resistance, increasing the height of foot elevation, and more.
When combined with a well rounded basketball and athletic development program, this trio of activities will lead to strong and resilient ankles. Unfortunately, injuries like ankle sprains are not totally preventable. Sometimes things just happen. If after spraining your ankle you cannot bear weight or lose feeling in your lower leg/foot, then be seen by a provider immediately as these are signs something could be seriously wrong. Tenderness and difficulty walking after 2-3 days are also indications to be seen by a provider. Lastly, if you do not feel confident rehabbing your ankle after a sprain on your own, be seen by a provider!
At Inside Sports Clinic, we begin our treatment protocol by managing pain and swelling with modalities like our NormaTec boots, GameReady cryotherapy, and interferential current therapy. If/when pain and swelling are under control, we utilize joint manipulations and soft tissue therapy treatments to improve joint range of motion. Once the joint’s range of motion has been restored, we begin loading the ankle to tolerance, culminating in balance and proprioception training to ensure the ankle is adequately prepared for a return to activity!
Need help getting your ankles stronger or rehabbing an ankle sprain? Call our office or schedule online so we can help you out!