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Descriptive profile of scapulothoracic position, strength and flexibility variables in adolescent elite tennis players

Abstract

Study design Descriptive study, cross-sectional design.

Background Tennis requires repetitive overhead movement patterns that can lead to upper extremity injury. The scapula plays a vital role in injury-free playing. Scapular dysfunction has been associated with shoulder injury in the overhead athlete.

Objectives The purpose of this study was to describe variables regarding scapular position, muscle strength and flexibility in young elite tennis players.

Methods Thirty-five adolescent Swedish elite tennis players (19 boys, aged 13.6 (±1.4) years, 16 girls, aged 12.6 (±1.3) years), selected on the basis of their national ranking, underwent a clinical screening protocol consisting of: scapular upward rotation at several angles of arm elevation; isometric scapular muscle strength; and anthropometric measurement of pectoralis minor (PM) length.

Results The players showed significantly more scapular upward rotation on their dominant side (p<0.001). For both genders, upper trapezius (p=0.003) and serratus anterior (p=0.01) strength was significantly greater on the dominant side, whereas middle and lower trapezius strength showed no side differences. PM was shorter on the dominant side (p<0.001), and in the female players (p=0.006) compared with the boys.

Conclusion These results indicate some sports-related adaptations of young tennis players on their dominant side at the scapulothoracic level to exposure to their sport. These data may assist the clinician in the prevention and rehabilitation of sport-specific injuries in adolescent tennis players.

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