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Sports Physiotherapy and Massage at the Australian Open with Rob Brandham

11 Feb 2015
Randall Cooper
I’d like to welcome Rob Brandham as a guest contributor to the Premax blog. Rob is a Tournament Physiotherapist at the Australian Open and a Director of the St Kilda Road Sports & Physiotherapy Centre. In this piece, Rob discusses some of the issues the sports medical team encounter during a Grand Slam.

Over to you Rob… The tennis season can be long and grueling, with tournaments starting early in January and continuing until the end of November. Many players only get a short break before they then have to begin preparing for the next season. Professional players who do not have the resources to employ their own dedicated physio, massage therapist or conditioning coach may carry injuries for prolonged periods, and the pressure to continue playing to maintain their ranking can be greater than the need to rest and recover. With such an asymmetrical sport like tennis, muscle imbalances are extremely common both between sides and also within a joint. The most troublesome area for tennis players is the shoulder girdle, with such a high volume of forceful internal rotation and horizontal flexion it’s no surprise this population has a strong tendency to be tight in the anterior shoulder muscles, mainly pec major & minor, and subscapularis. This helps to create the anteriorly tilted, downwardly rotated and depressed scapular position linked with many glenohumeral joint, and cervical complaints. Soft tissue therapy is a large component of managing these imbalances to decrease tone and improve flexibility. We couple this with targeted strengthening exercises to diminish the imbalance and redistribute the load across a joint more evenly. Exercises need to focus on all elements of the muscles function including endurance, power, coordination and biomechanical control. Another common are of concern is the trunk. Serving requires a substantial amount of force to be generated by the abdominal muscles, both eccentrically in the wind up and then a rapid shift to a concentric contraction during the service action. With a heavy load of serving during a 5 set match it is not infrequent for players to suffer a tear of the lower rectus abdomius, both acutely and progressively throughout a match or over the period of a tournament. This is a good example of where a well designed conditioning program including eccentric exercises in a functional position can benefit the player considerably. Working with players at the Australian Open is a challenging but rewarding role. Assisting them to achieve a result at this tournament combined with giving them some advice and direction for the future is a big part of what we do. Rob is available for consultation at the St Kilda Road Sports & Physiotherapy Centre:





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