How to Prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries

How to Prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries

Gavin Evans 1 (1)

What’s The T?

Repetitive strain injuries are often seen and found in elite level athletes, however an injury like this can develop through playing a sport or regularly using the same muscles. A RSI (repetitive strain injury) is normally caused my using an area of the body more than what most people would consider normal. This is not always a bad thing, as to become good at anything in life you must do it a lot, usually more than others, so without the right knowledge an injury can occur!

Over the last year or so many people have been coming to me for fitness advice and table tennis advice. A regular conversation I have is around an injury one may have just developed, and they can’t understand why. Almost unequivocally it is an RSI (repetitive strain injury). Now a common injury area in table tennis is the shoulder, so in this blog I will explain how to prevent this injury and sustain a strong stable shoulder.

Pain in the front of the shoulder (Anterior Deltoid) with a sharp shooting sensation when raising the arm are all common occurrences. This is caused by a lifetime of f/h exercises which draw the shoulder forward, into a protracted position and inevitably create strong pectoral muscles and neglect the back muscles around the scapular causing them to weaken. Once the back muscles are weakened this causes a loss of shoulder control and instability which then causes pain to your rotator cuff muscles Supraspinatus and Subscapularis (front shoulder).



If you are a table tennis player or a tennis player, when you work out in the gym be sure to do a lot of strength work around your mid and lower trapezius. This is the major muscle surrounding the shoulder blade. Below I have listed a few great exercises to do to strengthen your back and mid trapezius muscles:

  • High Pulley Cable Row
  • Pull Up with hand facing you, grip slightly narrower than shoulder width
  • Bent Over Lateral Dumbbell Raise
  • Reverse Pec Dec
  • Standing Cable Rear Deltoid Extension
  • Bent Over Cable Lateral Raise
  • Seated Row
  • Prone Trap Raises with a dumbbell in a Hammer Grip
  • Latissimus Dorsi Pull Down
  • Bent Over Barbell Row
  • Reverse Latissimus Dorsi Pull Down


The Shoulder

 The Glenohumeral is a synovial ball and socket joint commonly known as the shoulder with a large range of movement and somewhat complex as there are many muscles which attach to it.

The four rotator cuff muscles are extremely important and must be worked correctly. They are the Subscapularis and the Supraspinatus located at the front of the shoulder and the Infraspinatus and Teres Minor located at the back of the shoulder. These muscles connect your shoulder blade (Scapula) to the Humerus your arm bone.

It is also extremely important to remember, the muscles which need working the most are not the ones which look good or are easily seen! It’s the ones which cannot be seen but are there to stabilise a joint and add controlled strength to prevent injuries. I have put a link below to give you some ideas of some crucial exercises to help stabilise and strengthen the shoulder!

These exercises can be performed with a Theraband or a resistant band. The exercises are to be done very regularly, performing the exercise for 20 repetitions 3 times each.


How do I know which muscles I need to work to prevent an RSI?


This question is important to understand. The main concept of this is to recognise which muscles you are using most in your everyday life then consciously train the opposing muscles group to equal out the dominance. For example if in life you use your chest muscles all the time, then train your back muscles, if in life you use your quadriceps all the time, then train your hamstrings, if in life you use your biceps all the time, then train your triceps, if in life you use your abdominal muscles all the time, then train your lower back muscles.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions about your own development please contact me without hesitation.


Gavin Evans

Is training over Xmas necessary or not?

Is training over Xmas necessary or not?

So quite the question. Is training over the festive period absolutely necessary or not, for a players development? This is still a very relevant subject across the world in many sports, in particular table tennis as this is the sport that has given me so much. After over 18 years of training and competing at the highest level, confusion is still very much dominating the nations thoughts! For every person that says ” I deserve a well earned break” another says ” I would never take a break over festive times” What is their logic and reasoning behind this?

Taking a break is beneficial for muscle recovery along with switching the mind off from the stresses of a full time sportsman. Valuable family time is key to a sportsman development, after all if the athlete is happy their game will be. On the contrary the other group would say taking a break loses momentum, effects confidence, worsens fitness and most of all ” then you’re one of the lazy lot.” The complexity to the difference in mindsets, on how people think are quite simply nothing short than baffling. Often two people from the same training group will voice two totally separate opinions. Why?

People who train over Christmas will argue they are training when others are not, which in turn will give them that crucial edge. Those who rest will argue their mind is staying fresh, they are building the hunger and fire from inside the belly, and most of all staying rationally attached to the sport instead of obsessive and irrational. Could having a fixed mindset which believe talent is born, and players need less training be the ones which rest, and those with a growth mindset embrace the time others are resting, as they believe training hard will take them to the top and talent does not come into it?

My Opinion

Personally I think the culture of our country and the way people are taught from childhood would have to change to create a clear trend and correlation between the differences of opinions. As this is some what optimistic, I will give my personal opinion based on my experiences of doing both over many years of competing.

The underlying factor which separates champions from the rest, is a players self confidence. It has to be a personal decision based on ones feelings at any particular time. Goal setting, periodisation and peaking was a skill I learned at a young age, this put me In good stead for understanding my body and myself, enabling me to make good decisions. Some Christmases, I felt maybe I was training to much leading up to the new year and that the benefits were getting less and “over training” was detrimental to my game. In this instance I would take time off from the table and focus on getting my fitness better. Other times I would feel I was very close to conquering a new skill, so I needed to train a lot to ingrain it,  and enter the autonomous stage of learning. Another contributing factor would be how close a competition was after the new year, this would then give me a clear picture of the type of training regime I need to undertake. Some years, I would go to China for 5 weeks on boxing day, so I would take a week off before that. Year on year circumstances change so adaptability is crucial to high level performing. Frankly if you know deep down that you want to be the worlds best, then trust your body, mind and go with your natural instincts, after all table tennis is an instinct sport.

If you can find the happy medium and compromise in life, you will not go far wrong!