Br J Sports Med 42:165-171 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2007.036830
  • Review

Internal impingement in the tennis player: rehabilitation guidelines

  1. A M Cools1,
  2. G Declercq2,
  3. B Cagnie1,
  4. D Cambier1,
  5. E Witvrouw1
  1. 1
    Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium
  2. 2
    Private Practice, ’s Gravenwezel, Belgium
  1. Dr A Cools, University Hospital Ghent, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, De Pintelaan 185, 3B3, B9000 Gent, Belgium; ann.cools{at}
  • Accepted 24 September 2007
  • Published Online First 10 December 2007


Internal impingement is a commonly described cause of shoulder pain in the overhead athlete, particularly in tennis players. Three shoulder dysfunctions, often correlated with internal impingement symptoms, require attention in the rehabilitation strategy of internal impingement in the tennis player: (1) acquired glenohumeral anterior instability, (2) loss of internal rotation range of motion, and (3) lack of retraction strength.

Based on recent literature, the following guidelines are proposed in the rehabilitation of the tennis player with internal impingement symptoms: (1) shoulder rehabilitation should be integrated into kinetic chain training, not only in the advanced phases of the athlete’s rehabilitation, but from the initial phases; (2) both angular and translational mobilisations can be used in the treatment of acquired loss of glenohumeral internal rotation range of motion to stretch the posterior structures of the glenohumeral joint; and 3) in the rehabilitation of scapular dyskinesis, the therapist should focus on restoration of intramuscular trapezius muscle balance in the scapular exercises, with special attention to strength training of the retractors.


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Patient consent: Informed consent was obtained for publication of figures 1–12.