top of page


Article review by Brittany Laxton, DPT, CTPS

Chronic changes of the shoulder in overhead athletes have been researched and documented in studies that focus on sports such as baseball, volleyball and tennis [1,2]. However, research on the acute response of tissue after placing high

volume rotational demands on the shoulder are limited. The sport of tennis requires specific rotational demands of the shoulder joint throughout the full range of motion and should be taken into consideration [3].

The study, “Acute changes in passive glenohumeral rotation following tennis play exposure in elite female athletes” recruited seventy-nine professional women tennis players to participate. Players who reported a shoulder injury in the

past 3 months were excluded from the study. Using an inclinometer, glenohumeral internal rotation, external rotation, and total range of motion of the dominant shoulder were measured passively by a trained medical professional during three different time points: baseline immediately before match play (T1), immediately after match play (T2) and 24-hours after baseline (T3) [4].

Results showed a statistically significant decrease in glenohumeral internal rotation from before match play to immediately after match play (T1 to T2). This reduction in shoulder internal rotation remained significant 24-hours after the acute match exposure (T1 to T3). There was also a statistically significant decrease noted in the total range of motion of the shoulder immediately following match play (T1 to T2). The results did not show a significant change in glenohumeral

external rotation at any time point [4].

This study supports that acute exposure to tennis play leads to a reduction in glenohumeral rotation and total range of motion of the dominant shoulder. As evidenced by past research in overhead athletes, limited range of motion can lead to altered shoulder kinematics and increased risk for shoulder injury [1,2]. The medical professional should take this information into consideration when diagnosing acute shoulder injury during or shortly after play. Furthermore, passive stretching of the surrounding tissue should be performed within a 24-hour window in order to maintain range and prevent injury.



  1. Myers JB, Laudner KG, Pasquale MR, et al. Glenohumeral range of motion deficits and posterior shoulder tightness in throwers with pathologic internal impingement. Am J Sports Med. Mar 2006;34(3):385-391.

  2. Wilk KE, Macrina LC, Fleisig GS, et al. Correlation of Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit and Total Rotational Motion to Shoulder Injuries in Professional Baseball Pitchers. Am. J. Sports Med. 2011;39(2):329-335.

  3. Kibler WB. Biomechanical analysis of the shoulder during tennis activities. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 1995;14:79-85.

  4. Moore-Reed SD, Kibler WB, Myers NL, Smith BJ. Acute changes in passive glenohumeral rotation following tennis play exposure in elite female players. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016;11(2):230-6.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Tennis Players and Hip Injuries: An Article Review

Brittany Laxton PT, DPT Current tennis specific research frequently focuses on injuries and injury prevention of the upper extremity. However, the repetitive loading of joints does not just occur in t


bottom of page