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Role of Shoulder blade muscle strength in Tennis elbow

Role of Shoulder blade muscle strength in Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition characterized by pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. While the primary pathology is related to the tendons around the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, various factors can contribute to its development and exacerbation, including muscular imbalances and weaknesses.

The scapular or shoulder blade muscles play a crucial role in providing stability and support to the shoulder complex, which in turn influences the biomechanics of the elbow joint during activities such as tennis. Weakness or dysfunction in these muscles can alter the mechanics of the
upper limb, potentially leading to increased stress on the tendons of the elbow and predisposing an individual to conditions like tennis elbow. Specifically, the muscles that are often implicated

  1. Serratus Anterior: This muscle plays a key role in stabilizing the scapula against the thoracic wall, particularly during movements involving overhead or forward-reaching motions. Weakness in the serratus anterior can lead to abnormal scapular movement patterns, which may increase stress on the elbow during activities such as serving or
    hitting a tennis ball.

  2. Lower Trapezius: The lower fibers of the trapezius muscle help control downward rotation and posterior tilt of the scapula. Weakness in this muscle can contribute to altered scapular mechanics, potentially leading to increased strain on the tendons of the elbow
    during repetitive motions.
  3. Rhomboids: Both the rhomboid major and rhomboid minor muscles play a role in retracting and stabilizing the scapula. Weakness in these muscles can lead to scapular dyskinesis, which may result in altered biomechanics of the upper limb and increased stress on the elbow tendons.
  4. Rotator Cuff Muscles: While not strictly scapular muscles, the rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) also contribute to scapular stability and shoulder function. Dysfunction or weakness in these muscles can lead to abnormal movement patterns of the shoulder complex, potentially impacting the
    mechanics of the elbow joint.

Addressing scapular muscle strength and stability through targeted strengthening exercises and corrective movements may therefore be an important component of comprehensive rehabilitation and prevention strategies for tennis elbow. By restoring optimal scapular or shoulder blade
mechanics and shoulder function, individuals may reduce the risk of overuse injuries and improve overall upper limb biomechanics during activities such as tennis. However, it’s essential to consult a Physiotherapist


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  • This article was written with the help of and was vetted for accuracy by a Registered Physiotherapist before publishing. This article is not intended to replace any medical advice, if you have Tennis Elbow you are advised to consult the Physiotherapist for an accurate assessment and personalized treatment plan tailored to individual needs. Thank you.

For further information, please read the following research articles:


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