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    Tennis Service Stroke Benefits Humerus Bone: Is Torsion the Cause?

    Ireland, A, Degens, H, Maffulli, N and Rittweger, J (2015) Tennis Service Stroke Benefits Humerus Bone: Is Torsion the Cause? Calcified Tissue International, 97. ISSN 0171-967X


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    Regular tennis play is associated with impressive asymmetries in bone strength in favor of the racquet arm, particularly in the humerus. However, the relative effects of service and ground strokes are not known. Serendipitously, we encountered a 46-year-old regular tennis player who has played service and ground strokes with different arms for over 30 years, and thus allowed differentiation of stroke effects. Grip strength and peripheral quantitative computed tomography scans of both arms of radius at 4 % distal–proximal ulna length, radius and ulna at 60 % distal–proximal ulna length, and at distal (35 % length) humerus were analyzed in this player, and 12 male veteran players of similar age, height, and mass who played a conventional single-sided style. Confidence intervals (95 %) were calculated for asymmetries and bone, muscle and force parameters in the control players—values in the case study player were compared to these intervals. Sizeable differences in bone strength in favor of the serving arm humerus were observed in this player—comparable to those found in the control players. While asymmetries in favor of the ground stroke arm ulna were also evident, no sizeable asymmetry was found in proximal or distal radius, forearm or upper arm muscle size or hand grip force. These results suggest that the service stroke is responsible for the humeral hypertrophy observed in tennis players, and that ulna adaptation may be attributable to the ground strokes. The osteogenic potential of the service stroke may be related to the large torsional stresses it produces.

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