We were saddened to hear this morning that tennis superstar and SHAPE cover model Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the upcoming U.S. Open.
Citing a shoulder injury, Sharapova, who's coming off a turbulent season—she lost the French Open final to Serena Williams this year and was knocked out of Wimbledon in the second round—took to Facebook to say the decision was a difficult one that she did not make lightly.
Sharapova first injured her shoulder five years ago and underwent surgery to repair two rotator cuff tears in 2008. Although she had a rocky season in 2009, she bounced back quickly, winning the French Open last year, completing a career Grand Slam and regaining her No. 1 ranking, though her performances this season have been inconsistent. In an exclusive interview earlier this summer with SHAPE magazine, the four-time Grand Slam winner cheerfully told SHAPE she was looking forward to the U.S. Open. "I can't wait to get to New York," she said. "It's my favorite place to play—the energy, the people in the crowds, the excitement. It's one of the biggest stages for tennis in the world."
Still, we're sure Sharapova—who recently expanded her line of candies, Sugarpova, with a new collection of accessories (you can read about the launch here)—will take everything in stride. When commenting on her loss at Wimbledon, she told SHAPE, "My opponent played really great tennis, that's for sure ... It's a sport, and and losing is part of the game."
Sharapova's official diagnosis is bursitis, which is sometimes also referred to as rotator cuff tendonitis or impingement syndrome. While it may prevent her from tearing up the courts this summer, it isn't normally a career ender, says Laith Jazrawi, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and chief of sports medicine at NYU Langone’s Center for Musculoskeletal Care. "These types of injuries are very common; in fact, I'd say it's one of the most common things I see in my office," he says.
The condition is a result of inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons and the bursa that surrounds these tendons. For most patients, a few weeks of anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, and physical therapy are all that's needed to recover from bursitis. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary. However, even if you're not an elite athlete, you should be able to work out as normal if you're recovering from bursitis, Dr. Jazrawi says. "There are certain positions or moves that you should avoid (such as military presses), but you can run, do lower-body exercises, or even do triceps exercises and upper-body workouts, as long as you're not putting stress on your rotator cuff."
Yoav Suprun, MDT, CSCS, physical therapist at South Beach Spine in Miami, Fla., agrees. "Someone like Sharapova could do plyometrics or any moves with the type of explosive lower-body movement you see on the court," he says.
However, though bursitis itself isn't inherently serious, shoulder injuries are progressive and can worsen quickly if not treated, says Jordan Metzl, M.D., sports physician at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery and author of The Athlete's Book of Home Remedies. The condition tends to be more common in athletes and people who are active, but anybody can develop it, because it's hard to avoid lifting your arms in everyday life. "Be mindful," Dr. Metzl says. "The faster you catch it, the easier it'll be to heal. If you develop any pain or if it gets to the point that it's negatively interfering with your movement, see your doctor."
And remember, the best offense is a good defense. The best way to prevent this type of injury is to "strengthen everything from tip to top," Dr. Metzl says. "Your kinetic chain—the combination of muscles and joints that starts at your hip bones—is only as strong as its weakest link."
That means, not only can you work out while you recover, but you should! "I try to keep my patients as active as possible," Dr. Metzl. "I hate total rest. I always say that exercise is medicine and it's important to get your daily dose, even if you're injured."
We wish Sharapova well and a speedy recovery from her injury and can't wait to see what she does next. Pick up the September issue of SHAPE to read our in-depth interview with the tennis star.