Importance of external rotators

In tennis our external rotator muscles are used in every swing of the racquet.  When performing a forehand stroke our external rotators fire during the back swing to bring the racquet into position and then fire again to control the deceleration of the racquet after the forehand swing.  During the backhand our external rotators forcefully fire during the actual swing to provide power to the swing. During the serve they again fire to control the deceleration of the racquet after the forceful swing of the serve.

In our day to day life our external rotators are put in a detrimental position when we sit in poor posture with our shoulders rounded and our heads in a forward position.  These positions can be seen when we sit at a computer desk, sitting to read, or even more prevalent now when we play with our cell phones checking email, looking at social media, or sending text messages. These poor positions cause our external rotators to be in a lengthened position which sets them up to be weak and thus not function properly on the tennis court.

With poor muscular endurance and neuromuscular control of our external rotators shoulder pain can develop from improper mechanics or from other muscle groups having to work abnormally due to external rotation weakness.  There are many conditions that may develop due to their weakness on the tennis court such as shoulder impingement or even tennis elbow.

Strengthening our external rotators can be accomplished with a few simple exercises that if performed diligently will immediately translate into improvement of our shoulder condition.



While holding an elastic band at your side with your elbow bent, roll up a towel to place under your arm, start with your hand near your stomach and then pull the band away until your hand is straight ahead of you. Keep your elbow at your side the entire time.

It is best to perform 3 sets to muscle fatigue to work on the endurance of these muscles.

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Lie on your side and hold a weight with your elbow bent and rested on your side.  Roll up a towel to place under your arm. Next, draw up the your arm from the ground towards the ceiling, stopping when at horizontal.

Again best to perform 3 sets to muscle fatigue.

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