Originally Posted by evaino
This is definitely a problem with a dominant side such as tennis. Same happens with lots of other sports. Lately I've been able to tell who's a hockey player based on their hip rotation. They have good left internal and right external hip rotation but tight the other way. Similarly, I can tell who was a baseball pitcher because they have great external shoulder rotation but terrible internal on their throwing arm.
Dominant-sided sports can require slightly different training needs. And what you're experiencing is a reason that regular strength training is vital.
A whole lot can be going on, so really, you should go see someone who can help you figure it out. I suspect the rhomboids are tight because something is weak or tight and dysfunction is occurring as a result.
Do you work at a desk? I'm going to guess that you do, and that this is probably making things worse. Is your computer monitor off to one side such that your neck is turned 8+ hours a day to look at it? If so, that's contributing - maybe even the primary cause vs the tennis. Similarly, I suspect you have some muscle imbalances in your traps. It's very common to see overactive upper traps and underactive lower and mid traps. This is usually paired with tight and short pec muscles. Google "upper crossed syndrome" to get more about that.
Extra strength work on the left is probably a good idea, but so is working mobility in the thoracic spine. Get a foam roller, or better yet, take 2 old tennis balls, tape them together (or put them in a sport sock) to make a "peanut". Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, and place it on the ground a couple of inches below the bottom of your shoulder blades, and basically curl back onto it. hold for a few seconds and then crunch back up slightly, move your body down and repeat so that you're now hitting a different part of your t-spine. Keep going until you get to the top of the back, but not into the neck, and make sure the tennis balls are on either side of your spine vs on the spine. Let me know if that's confusing and I'll post a couple of pics.
Beyond that, you probably want to strengthen the lower and mid traps. Ys, Ts, Ws are all good, as are wall slildes. You should be able to google them.
And stretching pecs should help too.
But again - go see someone who's going to look beyond the symptoms (tight rhomboids). If you've got trigger points and some poor tissue quality in the area (I'm guessing you do), then you should really get it worked on. I'm a fan of athletic therapists personally, but if you prefer physical therapists or chiros, that's fine too. The key is a good practitioner (which can be hard to find).
Beyond that, I'd also look at your form. You may be doing something wrong in your serve or one of your strokes that's also contributing.
Thanks a million ...
1. No, I don't work at a desk. But I do read a lot, and I know I have a tendency to jut my head forward, so that makes sense. I'm not turned, though. I do also tend to shrug when working out, so that's the upper trap thing, right? I have to focus on holding shoulder blades down and back. WHICH reminds me about the gait stuff I did during pt ... I definitely also tend to pitch forward when I walk (it's hereditary, my dad and brother are even worse), so I have to concentrate on not doing that. So yes, I can see where this is related.
2. Can't find my foam roller ... it's been a very popular item in my house, keeps getting stolen. Love the "peanut" idea, will get on that tout de suite!
3. I wonder if this has anything to do with (ie, same root cause as) a year-long battle I had with the first rib on my left side, which kept subluxing. And making my neck very stiff. Pt spent much time and effort on it, lots of manipulation, needles, stim, massage, strange contortions, etc. All better now. It does seem like I was tighter on the right side during massage then, too.
4. You reminded me ... external hip rotation ... I have very little. I did not know this until the esteemed Bob Barnes and cgeib decided to torture me at the top of ABasin last season. What are common causes of that?
5. Not too concerned about stroke mechanics in tennis ... form has always been fine. Plus, I use a heavy, head-light racquet strung with gut, pretty much the gold standard for avoiding arm/shoulder injuries. Never had tennis elbow or any arm or shoulder (eg rotator cuff) problems. However, in the past month, I've been doing a cardio workout on the ball machine, once a week, which involves a LOT of hitting. I was more concerned about heart rate, footwork, lateral movement, just working up a good sweat, not stroke mechanics. But the highly repetitive nature of the groundstrokes appears to have exacerbated something.
Thanks again, lots of food for thought. ONE MORE question, though ... until I get it sorted out with pt, which probably won't be until at least next week or later, should I do extra reps of unilateral exercises on left side? Or just wait?