Tennis Elbow Exercises
Medical Term: Lateral
Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
Comments: Tennis Elbow is one of
those frustrating areas of research for me that produces the same
basic clinical recommendations while offering few if any "self-help" prevention exercises.
Basically, the recommendations are: RICE, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical
therapy, injections, and bracing. It was hard to find any exercise
recommendations for this condition! Being a student of Jack LaLanne, I
find it hard to believe that our only options are drugs and clinical-type
interventions! This is one of the few areas on my website where I have
posted information that seems gray to me--meaning I'm not convinced there isn't
something better in terms of healing exercises for tennis elbow. In order
to get started with something positive, I have posted what seems to be
generally recommended when I could find anything on tennis elbow exercises.
If you have something better--please let me know! I'd be happy to review
any exercise suggestions from physical therapists, sport medicine professionals,
or individuals with tennis elbow.
One thing is certain, if you have an
extreme case of Tennis Elbow, you must NOT aggravate the condition by going too
heavy with your exercises! Pay careful attention to the recommendations
below regarding how to start and how to add progressions. Tennis Elbow can
take up to six months to control inflammation--it can be a long and tedious
process, so don't rush it. Listen to your body, and don't do anything that
makes the condition worse!
Root Cause: Overstressed forearm extensor tendons. It's
usually called "overuse" of tendons, but this implies you shouldn't be using
your forearm as much. I prefer to see it as you haven't trained your
forearm to safely handle the demands or requirements of your activities.
*Special Note: With tennis, many times the
condition is caused by poor racket technique or improper racquet selection--just
cleaning up your form, etc. can improve the condition.
Background: Can also be caused by non-tennis activities as well.
Anything that stresses extensors like hammering, computer work, screwdriver use,
etc. can cause elbow epicondylitis. I've also had clients that modified
worksite ergonomics and significantly reduced or even eliminated their pain.
Example, if you are pressing your elbow onto something hard like a lunch box or
minimally padded armrest while driving, this might be causing some irritation.
Related to Tennis Elbow is Golf and Swimmer's Elbow.
to be posted soon!
Exercises: Do not force the stretches! These gentle static stretches
should be held for 20-30 seconds. Maximum recommendation I found was 5-10
times and twice per day. However, I don't think people will do this many,
so just do what you can fit in daily. I would
suggest doing each stretch 30 seconds twice per day.
Strength Exercises: Be VERY
careful as you begin strength exercises because you don't want to further
aggravate your condition! Generally, the starting weight recommendation is
only 1 pound. In my experience, some people need to start with NO
additional weight beyond their own arm! NISMAT recommends starting with 3 sets of 10 reps then
working up to 15 rep sets "before" adding anymore weight. I would suggest
only progressing in one-pound increments to be on the safe side.
For those just starting that have a lot of pain, I would suggest only doing 1
set and then working up to 3 sets so you don't cause excess inflammation and
undue pain, and if needed, forget the weights and just use arm only until you
can do 3 sets of 15 reps without pain.
[Strength Photos To Be
Wrist Roll Up
I do NOT recommend flexion strength exercises
because we are in wrist flexion too much already with computers, driving, etc.
Excessive flexion and tension in the wrists causes carpal tunnel problems;
therefore, I can't recommend strength exercises designed to increase and
tighten the wrists in flexed positions.
MARV Handles (Multi-Vector Training): These special handles were
created by a physical therapist for wrist/elbow rehabilitation. The
handle and tubing allows for constant resistant in multiple angles as compared
to dumbbells that have more limitations. My PT colleague told me his
Tennis Elbow clients have done much better with the MARV Handles than
traditional dumbbell exercises. The MARV Kit comes complete with
directions and three levels of resistance tubing.
MARV Elbow & Wrist Kit here.
Web Reference: The NISMAT
site below was the most helpful site I found for actual tennis elbow exercises.
This link also includes some diagrams and photos.
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