What is padel shoulder?
Playing padel is hard on the shoulders. Similar to swimming, the repeated reaching above one’s head can result in what we call “padel shoulder” ( also refered to as Swimmer’s shoulder).
Padel shoulder is used to refer to a broad range of injuries in the shoulder, neck, and back resulting from repeated strain on shoulders from reaching over the head to hit chancletazos (Spanish for “a hit with a big flip-flop”), top spin smashes, rulos and other smash versions.
If you are struggling with a padel injury and its been 2 weeks, we recommend you take a break from the court and seek the care of a recommended sports therapist or physiotherapist – call us here at Elite Performance Therapy 🙂
The following is a guide on what happens, why it occurs, and how to reduce the chances of it happening to you.
The Rotator Cuff, its anatomy and importance
The rotator cuff is a sheath of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that supports the arm at the shoulder joint.
The rotator cuff is a covering of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that supports the arm at the shoulder joint. Padel’s repeated reaching above one’s head while smashing causes strain on this joint, so many padel players have pain if they have poor posture and a weak upper body.
Why padel shoulder pain occurs
Shoulder injuries result from padel due to the stress resulting from repeatedly reaching up behind your head in smashes.
Bad posture results in shoulders rolling forward and weakening of the rotator cuff muscles that should pull your shoulders back and down.
Weak shoulders won’t have the strength to pull your shoulders back and down as you’re preparing your smashes.
Improper technique exacerbates the problem, as you’ll put your shoulder into uncomfortable angles seeking to generate power any way you can.
Please note that nerve impingement / pinched nerve can also happen which will need a different course of treatment. If the pain is pain and long-lasting, you should speak to a recommended physiotherapist, our physio Daniele here at Elite Performance Therapy will run a nerve impingement test.
How to prevent shoulder (rotator cuff) injury
First, REST. Take some time off playing. You won’t heal with repetitive strain if you don’t!
Second, work on posture correction. If you spend a lot of time at a desk, put a post-it note on your desk with the words, “Roll shoulders down and back.” Take regular breaks and stretch.
Third, strengthen your shoulder (rotator cuff) muscles. Below we have put together some key exercises specific for padel players. Keep in mind that it is recommended to do these every other day on “off” (nonmatch/training) days.
Rotator cuff strengthening exercises
External Shoulder Rotation
Fix a theraband around a fixed object, i.e. door handle. Hold the band so your thumb is up and fix your elbow to the side of your torso. Turn your body so your non-dominant side is facing where the band is attached, and pivot your dominant arm outwards slowly. 3-5 seconds per rep. 3 sets of 15 slow reps.
Single Arm Pull Down
Fix a theraband around a fixed object, and pull it down while keeping your wrist and elbow straight. Focus on keeping your shoulder down. 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Lie face down with one arm straight up against the side of your head. Hold a dumbbell or small water bottle about 15 centimeters off the ground. Keep your wrist and elbow straight. Hold for 1 min.
Loop a theraband around a fixed object, e.g. door handle. Engage your lats (muscle below your shoulder) to pull it back slightly while keeping your arm straight. It is a small movement with focused tension. This exercise prepares you to keep your shoulder down during the Lat Raise (below). 1 set of 10 reps.
Hold a theraband slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. While keeping your shoulders down as much as possible, move the band over and behind your head and back. This can be performed standing or seated. 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Hold a dumbbell straight up while resting your elbow on your knee. While keeping your wrist straight, pivot your forearm down and back as slowly as possible. 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.