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“Protect Your Shoulder” by Dr. Jason Kobrick

Written by: Dr. Jason Kobrick

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***Dr. Jason M. Kobrick holds a Doctorate in Chiropractic from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) as well as a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia. Prior to becoming a Chiropractor, Dr. Kobrick was a national team athlete competing for the Canadian Sailing Team in the 470 class. Dr. Kobrick is a fully certified Active Release Techniques (ART®) provider. He is certified in Contemporary Medical Acupuncture from McMaster University. He is a FITforeGOLF (level 4) graduate in golf swing analysis and injury assessment.

Dr. Kobrick also uses a video analysis program called Dartfish to do sport biomechanicals, including Hockey Skating Analysis, Golf Swing Analysis, Weight Training Techniques and Running/Gait Analysis.  (Analysis of biomechanical function is an integral part of rehabilitating an injury. Visual feedback to the patient improves rate of recovery and enforces proper mechanics. Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic is one of the only health clinics in Ontario that uses Dartfish for sport and biomechanical analysis.)

Dr. Kobrick has experience treating professional, national and amateur athletes from a variety of sport disciplines, which include a number of GTHL, OHA, NCAA, ECHL, AHL, OHL, and NHL hockey players.  He also has experience treating amateur and professional Tennis players in Canada. He is a consulting Chiropractor to the ACE Tennis Academy (Burlington, ON), the OAKville Aquatic Club, and the Ontario and Canadian Sailing Teams. He also consults with an OHL and an NHL hockey team.***

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Overhead activities in the game of tennis place great demands on the shoulders of tennis players. Shoulder injuries are common in tennis players because of repetitive forces about the unstable shoulder joint with various strokes such as the serve, overhead smash, high forehand and backhand volley. Preventive shoulder conditioning is important for tennis players in order to enhance performance, avoid fatigue from eccentric overload, and avoid an overuse problem.

Injuries to the shoulder tendons are almost always caused by eccentric overload. In other words, high-intensity decelerating muscle contractions of the rotator cuff during the follow through phase of the serve can lead to injury to the tendon. The rotator cuff is a group of four shoulder muscles, deep and close to the joint which provide stability and rotational movements at the shoulder. Additionally, because the shoulder is dependent on the rotator cuff muscles for dynamic stability, any fatigue or asynchronous firing of these muscles will lead to instability of the shoulder joint.

Due to the overhead nature of serving and smashing shots in tennis the shoulder comes under a lot of strain. Secondary impingement syndromes cause the irritation of the tendons of one or more of the rotator cuff muscles.

Since young competitive tennis players spend so much time training as they are also developing, training errors such as overuse, misuse, and abuse that lead to pathology of the rotator cuff. That is why it is so important for these athletes to consult with their tennis coaches and therapists in the early treatment and prevention of a rotator cuff problem, addressing the impairments associated with this condition, and analyzing training methods and swing mechanics.

We all know that time lost training on the court will affect performance and conditioning, it becomes essential to identify any biomechanical impairments and correct them early before they become a problem. Research evidence has shown that screening the shoulder and body mechanics and giving early preventative exercises and stretches will in turn decrease the incidence of getting a rotator cuff problem. A simple exercise program that focuses on rotator cuff strength, scapulae stabilization exercises, and sport specific movements are a starting point for every tennis player. As technique, strength, and stability improve, progression of this exercise program can be adapted.

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