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Keyword: tennis

Guest Post by:

Michael J. Barr, PT, DPT, MSR
Sports Medicine Program Manager
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

The trophies have been presented, the cheers have quieted, and the clay has settled; the WTA tennis tournament on Daniel Island had a new name, the Volvo Car Open, but it was the same high quality tennis and outstanding tournament management and organization as we have grown accustomed to.  MUSC Health Sports Medicine once again partnered with the Family Circle Tennis Center and the WTA to provided sports medicine coverage for the athletes competing in the Volvo Car Open.

The main part of our responsibilities has continued to be onsite, hands-on coverage and medical care by our tournament physicians. In addition, 15 specialists are on-call beginning 2 days prior to the event to 1 day post event.  As MUSC Health is a leader in medical innovation, our sports medicine team is trying to do the same for the elite athletes of the WTA, while they are in Charleston.

This year at the VCO we added two new onsite technological advances, portable musculoskeletal diagnostic ultrasound and telehealth, to help aid in our medical care.  These technologies enabled the athletes, who are on a very tight training and competition schedule, to consult with any of our specialists from the convenience and privacy of the club house at the Family Circle Tennis Center.  One of our tournament physicians was in the room with the athlete as they completed the medical consultation with one of our specialists, via the high tech telemedicine equipment.  The WTA medical staff said that this was new technology to them and were excited about utilizing MUSC Health’s new and innovative technological advancements to provide the highest level of care to these elite athletes, in a very convenient way.

All of the technological advancements do not take away from the hard work and dedication of our tournament physicians and on-call specialists; however it is just another example of how MUSC Health is Changing What’s Possible in the realm of Sports Medicine.


Dr. Alec DeCastro utilizes Telehealth at the Volvo Car Open

Guest Post by:

Shane K. Woolf, M.D.
Chief, Sports Medicine Service
Medical University of South Carolina

Summer has arrived and folks of all ages are spending time outdoors pursuing their favorite active pastimes.  Tennis and golf are two of the more popular activities with about 12 and 30 million participants each year, respectively, in the United States.1  As our population ages, many participants fall (reluctantly) into the category of ‘mature’ recreational athlete. For these folks, staying healthy and avoiding injury is paramount to enjoyment of their favorite sport. The positive health benefits of athletic activity are quickly lost when injury occurs. Fortunately, some simple preparation and training tips can help to reduce your risk of injury in either sport!tennis player

Stay Flexible

Keeping a regular flexibility routine either through yoga or simple ‘sitting-on-the-floor-in-the-living-room’ stretches can help keep your joints, tendons and muscles ready for action in both tennis and golf. The shoulders and upper limbs as well as the trunk/back are under significant stress during the swing of a club or racquet.  Torque exerted during rotation of the torso or shoulder in order to make contact with the ball, can be among the highest stresses the human body might experience. It is a little like wringing out, or even whipping, a damp towel, if you think about it. Limber ligaments, tendons and muscles are more forgiving, allowing the necessary rotation to achieve motion and also to tolerate these stresses without resulting in a strained muscle or sprained ligament.

Maintain CORE strength

So what exactly is the ‘core’ that I keep hearing about, you ask? Think of it as the central framework and support structure for your whole body. The core is centered about your spine, abdominal musculature and pelvis. It is important for correct posture, balance, coordination, and is the key to many athletic moves. Consider a core routine as your Central Orthopedic Rehabilitative Exercise program. This would include abdominal strengthening, lumbar spine strengthening, hip strengthening, and balance training. Yoga and Pilates can be useful to achieve this. The web is also a fine resource for DIY core stability exercises such as planks, bird-dog/airplane, side-bridges, exercise ball activities and balance exercises. A fitness instructor at your local gym or wellness center can also help get you started in the right direction.

Keep the Arms and Shoulders Strong

Repetitive power gripping and the swing of a club or racquet can cause microtrauma to the rotator cuff tendons, biceps, and the extensors or flexors of the forearm (ie tennis elbow – lateral epicondylitis, and golfers elbow – medial epicondylitis). The backhand tennis swing coupled with wrist weakness has been linked to development of elbow pain. The soft tissues in older athletes are more likely to be degenerative and also more likely to be damaged with both repetitive use as well as improper mechanics. Similarly, the medial, or inside edge, of the elbow is under stress when forearm flexors are engaged during a golf swing.

Some keys to avoiding injury are flexibility of the forearm muscles, balanced strength from shoulder to wrist, and gradual increase in play. As anyone who has had a sudden increase in the number of sets or holes played will attest, these muscles are usually not happy for a few days afterward. 

Stay Hydrated

The hot days of summer can be especially dehydrating after even a short period of activity. Realize that the heat index will effectively make a hot day much hotter physiologically due to the effect of humid air on the body’s cooling mechanism. In dry climates, evaporative fluid loses can happen with little notice, thus resulting in dehydration without much warning. Dehydration can impair the cardiac, renal, and neurologic systems. Performance is diminished at best, and serious health risks can happen with deeper levels of fluid losses. Take regular water breaks or indulge in a sports drink, but be careful with the caffeinated beverages and avoid that adult beverage until AFTER your round in the hot sun. Alcohol and caffeine can worsen the effects of dehydration.

Consider a Medical Consultation Prior to Starting a New Activity

For mature athletes, especially those with existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, asthma, obesity, among others, it is advisable to consult with your primary care provider before engaging in a new or more strenuous activity (eg joining a competitive tennis league after a year of inactivity). Medical issues are not necessarily going to keep you off the court or course, but having your health optimized can make for a safer and more enjoyable experience. Primary care sports medicine physicians are especially in tune with your athletic passions and how to address the ailments that need to be considered. Similarly, existing bone and joint problems may be manageable in ways that allow sports participation, even without surgery. A visit with an orthopaedic sports medicine specialist to discuss your injury may help you find a way to get back into the action!

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Guest Post by:

Michael J. Barr, PT, DPT, MSR
Sports Medicine Program Manager
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

The Family Circle Cup is the largest women’s-only tennis tournament on the WTA circuit; qualifying play is scheduled to begin on Saturday April 4th.  The 2015 tournament will mark MUSC Health Sports Medicine’s 8th consecutive year providing comprehensive Sports Medicine coverage for the participants.  The WTA travels from tournament to tournament with a significant medical staff of Physical Therapists and Athletic Trainers; however they rely on local partners for each event to provide all additional medical coverage.  Most people probably think that just means there is a local physician onsite or on-call through-out the event, which does not even touch the tip of the iceberg for the level of medical coverage needed for a professional event like the Family Circle Cup.

Our onsite responsibilities begin the Friday prior to the event, as a large number of the players will be arriving during the week and training at the Family Circle Tennis Center by Friday the 3rd of April.  The onsite coverage that MUSC Health Sports Medicine will provide the event includes physician coverage from at least an hour prior to the first match until well after the last match concludes.  Our onsite team will be led by Doctors Shane Woolf (Orthopaedics) and Alec Decastro (Primary Care), both of which are fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians in their respective fields, with additional coverage provided by Dr. Jana Upshaw.

Having three different physicians onsite, throughout the 10 day event, seems like a comprehensive medical coverage plan, however this is just the first level of services needed for the Family Circle Cup.  For the majority of the regular adult population, we are home on a daily basis; if we need to see a doctor for a general physical or even see a specialist we make an appointment and move forward with our daily life and responsibilities.  The players on the WTA tour are often away from their homes or training facilities for months at a time, traveling from one tournament to the next.  The majority of the players at the FCC this year will be going from Indian Wells California, to the Miami Open, in the weeks prior to coming to Charleston; so they have very little time and ability to take care of the regular physician appointments that most of us take for granted.  With their extremely busy schedules in mind, MUSC Health has a second level of specialty physicians including women’s health/gynecology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, dental, and psychology; all of whom are identified months in advance, and will have office availability and on-call access throughout the players stay in Charleston.  This way if there is an emergency situation or just a routine appointment needed, we can provide that level of service to these elite athletes.

MUSC Health is a leader in telehealth deployment and services provided; this year we will be expanding our medical services for the Family Circle Cup to include telemedicine.  Our medical specialists will have access to telemedicine; therefore players will be able to receive teleconsultation services with our specialists, without leaving the comfort and convenience of the Family Circle Tennis Center.  This will be the first time that a telemedicine component will be utilized at a WTA event; it is just another example of how MUSC Health is leading the way in Telehealth and overall Sports Medicine services.


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