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Not ski related ... but maybe someone knows

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I have posted this at a tennis board, too, but I always like to ask you guys since there are so many smartypants here. ;-)


I'm a  right-handed tennis player.  I have had trouble with tight rhomboids (mostly my right), and my massage therapist says I am definitely overdeveloped on that side. I'm not having any shoulder pain or arm problems, just occasional back and neck issues from that side pulling.


What is the best way to even out the left side? I do weight training, including back exercises, several times a week. Add reps to pull backs, rows, on the left side? How many, proportionally? Which exercises are best? (Play left handed?)
 

post #2 of 15

SInce you're looking for a smarty-pants answer - get a new massage therapist!

 

 

 

post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

I have posted this at a tennis board, too, but I always like to ask you guys since there are so many smartypants here. ;-)


I'm a  right-handed tennis player.  I have had trouble with tight rhomboids (mostly my right), and my massage therapist says I am definitely overdeveloped on that side. I'm not having any shoulder pain or arm problems, just occasional back and neck issues from that side pulling.


What is the best way to even out the left side? I do weight training, including back exercises, several times a week. Add reps to pull backs, rows, on the left side? How many, proportionally? Which exercises are best? (Play left handed?)
 



Put the racket in the other hand.

 

No I'm not kidding.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post





Put the racket in the other hand.

 

No I'm not kidding.

And then what?
 

post #5 of 15

Hit the ball ?  I don't know how to play tennis.  I thought you did.

 

You're out of balance because you use one side to do one thing for a couple hours at a time.  To me, the simplest way to get the other side to catch up is do that thing on the other side.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Hit the ball ?  I don't know how to play tennis.  I thought you did.

 

You're out of balance because you use one side to do one thing for a couple hours at a time.  To me, the simplest way to get the other side to catch up is do that thing on the other side.


Yeah, but I don't have an extra X hours a week to play left handed. (And no one would want to play with me, either, lol.) Trying to find something to catch up that side to the other in a quicker fashion, I guess.

 

It can't be too mysterious, pro tennis players obviously deal with this with their trainers. I've been trying to find something on internet, haven't yet, though. We have trainers checking in here, so thought I'd ask.

post #7 of 15

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.

 

Good luck!

 

Elsbeth

 

post #8 of 15


First, I'd go with what evaino said instead.  However...

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post


Yeah, but I don't have an extra X hours a week to play left handed.


...but you have enough time to make it worse.

 

Consider it an injury and take the time to correct it.  Besides, you don't have to actually play.  You only have to do the motions.  Again, evaino is making much more sense.

post #9 of 15

Segbrown:  This physical therapist in Denver is awesome.  I have went to him for shoulder and IT band issues. He did a thorough evaluation and has helped me make some changes that have helped tremendously.  I can't say enough about him.  DPT at the DAC
14th & Glenarm, Phone 303-628-0871.  PM me if you want more information.

Phil Koffler, MSPTPhil
"I enjoy the challenges that each individual patient brings to me as a Physical Therapist."

Education Background
Master of Science in Physical Therapy Regis University, 2001
Bachelor of Science in Biology Carroll College, 1997
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology Carroll College, 1997
Associates Degree in Chemistry Carroll College, 1997
 

 

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks, skier31 ... I actually have a great pt in town who is well aware of all of my, um, quirks already, so I guess I'll go back. I haven't been but once in the past year, which is a small victory for me -- I've been on a mission to avoid him ;-) I've done pretty well, but looks like I should get this looked at.  But I'll keep other guy in mind, just in case.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post

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.

 

Good luck!

 

Elsbeth

 

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?

post #12 of 15

Get one of those elastic stretch exercise things (that look sorta like a jump rope) and work your left side.  

post #13 of 15

Quote:

Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

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.
 

 

Very possible.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

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?

 


I wouldn't say there are common causes but rather that it is common. Maybe lack of use, maybe individual hip socket anatomy, maybe previous injury, maybe tied to the sedentary lifestyle (sitting leaves our glutes which are external rotators weak)...

 

 

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?


Hard to say. When you do the unilateral exercises, do you notice a strength deficit on one side? If so, then yes, probably a good idea. But I would guess that more important will be focus on not shrugging through the exercises and adding Ys and Ts as exercises to stimulate the lower and mid traps.  

 

Good luck!

Elsbeth

post #14 of 15



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

I have posted this at a tennis board, too, but I always like to ask you guys since there are so many smartypants here. ;-)


I'm a  right-handed tennis player.  I have had trouble with tight rhomboids (mostly my right), and my massage therapist says I am definitely overdeveloped on that side. I'm not having any shoulder pain or arm problems, just occasional back and neck issues from that side pulling.


What is the best way to even out the left side? I do weight training, including back exercises, several times a week. Add reps to pull backs, rows, on the left side? How many, proportionally? Which exercises are best? (Play left handed?)
 


I play a bunch of tennis (well) and ski (decent).  Hmmm.  I haven't ever experienced that (tightness, or overdevelopment on right).  The solution I believe is pullups, which I do alot of.  Build up slowly, and don't overdo it.
 

post #15 of 15


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post


...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.

 

I remember my dad commenting years ago about professional tennis players being one side in their development.  Much more off the court training these days, but still must be something of an issue.  If you decide to take L&AirC's advice, your ball machine workout may be your opportunity.  Will probably feel awkward at at first, but might be beneficial from an overall athletic standpoint and a chance to see some quick improvement...evaino's advice seems well thought out as well...good luck!
 

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