While anyone can develop “tennis elbow”, it’s a condition that many active tennis players suffer from. But once you know the cause and symptoms, remedies are available that can help alleviate the pain and discomfort that it brings.
Tennis elbow is caused by an inflammation of the tendons surrounding the elbow especially near the forearm area. The main source of pain often develops where the forearm attaches itself to the outside area of the elbow known as the lateral epicondyle. The issue can be brought about by several means including overuse of the forearm and through excessive gripping or turning with the hand, wrist or arm. The condition often develops in the dominant arm but can occur in the other arm or both arms as well. The injury can also affect the back of the elbow as well.
Symptoms typically include sharp pain near the elbow area, feeling pain while trying to grip or squeeze something with your hand or even when picking up everyday objects.
Why some players develop the condition and others don’t often comes down to how they swing a racquet when hitting either a forehand or backhand with one or two hands. The reason why you don’t hear about professional tennis players struggling with tennis elbow a whole lot is that their stroke mechanics are fundamentally sound. Some recreational players hit the ball with an improper technique that puts unnecessary stress on their arm thus making them prime candidates for tennis elbow. Having your shots analyzed by a coach or teaching pro, especially for young players, is one way to help prevent getting tennis elbow and/or possibly correct the stroke technique that is causing the issue.
Another thing to be mindful of is the type of racquet you use along with strings and string tension. Racquets are designed to compliment certain playing styles so it’s important to pick one that best suits your game and not because your favorite pro uses it. Playing with a racquet that adds unnecessary stress to your arm could also cause you to develop tennis elbow.
Adopting a thinner or thicker racquet along with a change in grip size could all help in alleviating the issue. The strings you use, whether they be natural gut, a co-poly or a hybrid mix along with their tension can also play a factor as the ball’s impact on the strings can affect your arm as well. Be sure to consult with an expert stringer on the best strings and tension for you and your racquet.
If you do develop symptoms of tennis elbow, a consult with your doctor may be needed to determine the best course of action. A number of treatments and remedies exist to help counter the symptoms from simply taking an over the counter pain medication to cortisone injections for severe cases. Icing the affected area along with applying topical anti-inflammatory gels are also used to help treat the condition while physical therapy along with basic rest that includes not playing for weeks or even months can also help. Some may need to wear a forearm brace when playing and in some cases all the time to help prevent further injury. Surgery is rarely prescribed as a means to treat the issue and should be considered a last resort option.
Here are some examples of tennis elbow braces and support:
One way to help prevent tennis elbow is through use of exercise. Like toe raises are recommended to help build up the calf muscles to prevent Achilles tendon problems, strengthening the wrist and forearm of both arms can get those areas stronger and thus better able to deal with increased stress put on them. Wrist curls, that involve holding a light weight while you flex your wrists up and down, is one way to build up the muscles in that area.
Another recommended activity is to grab a rubber bar and practice twisting it both directions using mild pressure. This will strengthen the tendons in your wrist while also helping your forearms to get stronger.
Tennis elbow exercices:
If you suffer from tennis elbow, it’s important to examine other things your do in your daily life that might be causing additional stress to your arm and elbow. From excessive computer use to the way you pull a suitcase while traveling could be just as big a reason you suffer from arm pain as is the way you swing a racquet.
For many, tennis elbow can be an annoying, painful and sometimes lifelong condition. But with help from your doctor along with improving your stroke mechanics and use of exercise to strengthen your arms and wrists, the issue can be treated allowing you to continue enjoying playing the sport of a lifetime.
Related articles: What is tennis elbow?
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