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Epidemiological studies have associated the serve with overuse injuries in the upper limb joints and in the trunk (back and abdominal), which are a common medical problem in all competitive levels in tennis. Among all the risk factors, excessive joint loadings, linked with poor technique and/or overuse, are commonly cited as causes of these problems. Tennis injuries can be caused by alterations in the energy transfer across segments during the tennis serve. Indeed, if the action of one joint in the kinetic chain is altered, then the contribution of the other joints increases to accommodate the loss of energy, which may lead to increased joint loadings and, consequently, overuse joint injuries. Tennis players should avoid different pathomechanical factors.

For example:

Injured players often begin to further open her body and do not drive with the legs as forcefully as they could. As a result, they must pull their body through the service motion using their abdominal muscles rather than push through the serve using their leg drive. Having to pull their arm through the hitting zone places added stress on their abdominal muscles and shoulder, as these areas are forced to make up for the break in the kinetic chain that results from the lack of rotation and leg drive. Moreover, the arm lag position created by the premature opening up of the body can place additional loadings on the front of the right shoulder as well as the inside of the right elbow joint

Studies and Publications

Touzard, R. Kulpa, B. Bideau, C. Martin. “Biomechanical analysis of the waiter’s serve on upper limb loads in young elite tennis players”, European Journal of Sport Science, accepté le 12 octobre 2018, sous presse.

C. Martin, B. Bideau, N. Bideau, G. Nicolas, P. Delamarche, R. Kulpa. Energy flow during the tennis serve: comparison between injured and non-injured tennis players, American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2014;42(11):2751-60. Download the publication
C. Martin, R. Kulpa, M. Ropars, P. Delamarche, B. Bideau. Identification of pathomechanical factors during the tennis serve”, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2013;45(11):2113-9.Download the publication
C. Martin, B. Bideau, M. Ropars, P. Delamarche, R. Kulpa. Upper limb joint kinetic analysis during the tennis serve: assessment of competitive level on efficiency and injury risks, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2013 Jan 7. doi: 10.1111/sms.12043. Download the publication
C. Martin. Tennis serve biomechanics in relation to upper limb joint injuries and ball velocity, Journal of Medicine and Science in Tennis, 2014;19(2):35-39. Download the publication

Main Results

    • Tennis players subjected to higher loadings are more likely to sustain joint overuse injury
    • Injured players demonstrated improper timings of trunk rotations, reached significantly lower ball velocities, and demonstrated higher joint loadings.
    • Injured players at the shoulder left their arm in horizontal abduction for too long during the shoulder external rotation phase. This phenomenon called hyperangulation has been reported to be critical for internal impingement caused by a translation of the humeral head relative to the glenoid, which may lead to rotator cuff tears, shoulder tendinopathies, and labral lesions.
    • In injured players, the results show a poor quality of energy flow through the upper limb kinetic chain during the last phases of the serve. This phenomenon could be responsible for the appearance of overuse joint injuries in the upper limb
56%

shoulder injured expert players

37%

elbow injured expert players

21%

wrist injured expert players

30%

back or abdominals injured expert players