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How to Avoid Being Sidelined by Shoulder Pain

I’m an avid tennis player. Lately, my shoulders hurt when I play. What am I doing wrong?​

​“Every year, hundreds of tennis players ask me how to take shoulder pain out of their serve,” says Anup Shah, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic who also specializes in sports injuries. “One of the keys to preventing shoulder injury is to practice a good warm-up routine. Try to spend 10 minutes before your match stretching your shoulders and serving your ball in a smooth, controlled swing.”

Dr. Shah says whether you’re a tennis player or not, maintaining good shoulder health is important.

“Avoid putting too much stress on your shoulder muscles by reaching behind the backseat of your car to lift items. Also, be careful with overhead weight lifting and avoid repetitive overhead reaching,” adds Dr. Shah. “Stretch and move your arms and shoulders regularly to prevent stiffness and range of motion.”

Dr. Shah offers the following warm-up exercises to help keep shoulder pain at bay:

  • Stretch your arms and shoulders by bending at the waist and letting your arms hang down loosely.​
  • Move your arms slowly back and forth in gentle, circular motions.
  • Lift your arm, counting for three seconds and as you lower your arm count for six seconds. If available, take small soup cans in each hand and repeat the motions.

“By employing these techniques, you can get back in the game,” notes Dr. Shah. “However, if the problem persists, you should consider seeing an orthopedic specialist.

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Anup Shah, MD, FAAOS

​I believe in patient education and teamwork. This facilitates a partnership and bond to help treat and manage health conditions.