How to Prevent or Recover from Tennis Elbow
Prevention of Tennis Elbow is not something that would normally come to mind as part of a tennis training program, but it is important that we stay healthy. Before we get into any of the Exercises for Tennis Elbow, I will define tennis elbow and clear up a misconception that only tennis players get what people call tennis elbow.
“Tennis Elbow” is a common term for describing an overuse injury to the forearm with elbow pain in the outer area possibly radiating down the arm towards the wrist. Your doctor will use the term Lateral Epicondylitis when referring to tennis elbow. There is another related condition called “Golfers Elbow” with the medical term of Medial Epicondylitis referring to pain on the inner elbow. Both tennis and golfers elbow are caused by overuse of the arm, elbow, and wrist in some way.
Tennis Elbow Treatment and Prevention
There are are many good tennis elbow exercises for prevention and rehabilitation, but knowing which ones will help or hurt is the tough part. Although most people will recover from tennis or golfers elbow without the need for surgery by doing something more conservative like Forearm Stretching and Strengthening Exercises, you need to know which exercises to do and more importantly how many to do. In this article, I am going to share with you the tennis elbow treatment that I used to recover from a severe case of elbow tendonitis and the strengthening Exercises that I have been using to prevent a relapse.
Who Gets Elbow Pain?
I found on WebMD.com that less than 5% of the elbow pain cases are actually caused by playing tennis. It is interesting though that 50% of tennis players are affected at some point during their careers.
Tennis elbow affects 1% to 3% of the population overall and as many as 50% of tennis players during their careers. Less than 5% of all tennis elbow diagnoses are related to actually playing tennis. Tennis elbow affects men more than women. It most often affects people between the ages of 30 and 50, although people of any age can be affected. Although tennis elbow commonly affects tennis players, it also affects other athletes and people who participate in leisure or work activities that require repetitive arm, elbow, and wrist movement. Examples include golfers, baseball players, bowlers, gardeners or landscapers, house or office cleaners (because of vacuuming, sweeping, and scrubbing), carpenters, mechanics, and assembly-line workers.
Are You At Risk to Develop Tennis or Golfers Elbow?
As you can see the statistics show that both tennis players and non-tennis players are at risk depending on their daily activities. The good news is that elbow tendonitis treatment and prevention are the same if you are a tennis player or not. When I had tennis elbow in the past, it was rough on me being unable to play sports or even do daily activities. So, I learned how to prevent the problem because it is better to prevent an injury than to spend months recovering from one. The Tennis Elbow Strengthening Exercises that I use to prevent the injury actually helps me play tennis better in the end because of the added strength in my forearm and wrist due to the highly targeted workout routine, so the short amount of time that I spend on these exercises every week is well worth it because they keep me on the tennis court instead of in tennis elbow rehab dreaming of ripping 135mph tennis serves past opponents someday.
Prevent Tendonitis by Resting Your Arm
While you are resting, your arm is recovering from any trauma that you have inflicted upon it. So, listen to your body; and take days off as needed to keep inflammation at a minimum. Once your arm gets overly inflamed, the swelling might begin to make tendons rub due to lack of room causing more tissue damage which could end in a full blown injury. So, learn how your body responds to doing high risk activities like hammering or playing tennis multiple days in a row, and mix up your routine if you can to allow your body to recover. Keep telling yourself that it is better to prevent an injury than to rehab one. This is especially true if an injury will leave you unable to work for an extended length of time.
Use Ice Dips to Prevent Elbow Tendonitis
At the first sign of discomfort or inflammation, I rush home and setup an Ice Dip. This consists of filling an ice chest with water and a bag or two of Ice and submerging my arm in the ice water for a short period of time. I found that this helped me recover from a full blown case of elbow tendonitis, so I use it to help bring down inflammation and promote healing before things get out of control.
Ice Dip Protocol That Works Well For Me
1) Setup an Ice Chest, Sink, or Bowl full of ice and water.
2) Place your arm in the ice water for only 10-20 seconds.
3) Remove your arm from the ice water.
4) Dry off your arm with a towel.
5) Repeat Steps 2 through 4 about 10-15 times over a 2 hour period.
I keep repeating this Ice Dip Routine daily until my symptoms are gone which could take a week or two.
Below is a Short Video Demonstrating an Ice Dip for Tennis Elbow Relief
This shocks the tissues of your arm causing them to squeeze slightly which moves some blood and possibly toxins away from the injury and out of your arm for a moment. When you then remove your arm from the ice dip, new nutrient rich blood will flow back into your arm and back to the injury. The cold will not only relieve pain as with other icing methods, but it gets nutrient rich blood flowing to the damaged tissue in your arm much like hot/cold therapy. I have found that the Ice Dip works better than typical hot/cold therapy because the heat cycle tends to cause too much inflammation in the early stages of an injury, so I will not cover hot/cold therapy here because it is not something that I do.
Forearm Flexor and Extensor Stretching to
Prevent Elbow Tendonitis
Before performing exercises or high risk activities, a couple of tennis elbow exercises that should be done to prepare your muscles and tendons for the challenge ahead. These tennis elbow exercises are easy to do and do not take much time, so do not skip doing these stretches because they could save you both pain and time in the end.
1) For each of your arms.
2) Hold one arm out in front of your body with your palm facing up.
3) With your other hand gently pull the fingertips straight arm down.
4) You should feel a light stretch in your forearm.
5) Hold this light stretch for about 20-30 seconds.
6) Repeat steps 1 through 5 now with your palm down.
7) Repeat these stretches a few times on each arm.
Below is a Short Video Demonstrating these Forearm Stretching Exercises for Tennis Elbow Treatment
Secret Weapon Against Elbow Pain
When I was researching tennis elbow treatments, I came across an obscure, inexpensive, simple device that helps prevent and treat elbow tendonitis and forearm pain called the Thera-Band Flexbar. The manufacturer claims that it has been Research Proven Effective for Tennis Elbow Relief, Offering a Low Cost, and Effective Treatment. I tried out the Flexbar tennis elbow exercises and was surprised how well they worked for me.
I purchased Flexbars in each of the resistance levels (Yellow, Green, Red, and Blue). I started with the Yellow bar and worked my way up to Blue one over a couple of months. My forearms are both stronger than ever before due to using these easy to use workout bars. The theory is that using the Flexbar produces Eccentric or Negative Resistance which helps strengthen tendons. These Eccentric Tennis Elbow Exercises are considered one of the best way to get your body to heal the problem. There was an article about using the Flexbar Exercises for Tennis Elbow Relief on the New York Times site that has a lot of information about how it works. I found the bars super easy to use and ultra effective, so take a look at them if you are trying to prevent or recover from Tennis Elbow.
Supplements that I Used During Recovery
The combination of New Chapter Zyflamend and Nutrex BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin is ridiculously effective at fighting inflammation. I found that if I don’t take anti-inflammatory supplements, I feel a lot of soreness in my muscles for 1-2 days after hard workouts and matches. So, I take both Zyflamend and BioAstin together because they have been working miracles for me while I undertake a very aggressive tennis training schedule.
Promotes Strong and Healthy Inflammation Response plus
Normal Cardiovascular and Joint Function.
Nutrex BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin
Supports Joint and Tendon Health, UV Exposure, Eye Health,
Anti-Aging, Healthy Immune Function, and Recovery from Exercise.
USP Labs SuperCissus
Promotes Healthy Joints, Ligaments, Tendons, Cartilage, and Muscle.
Does not contain glucosamine, choindroitin, or msm and is stimulant free.
Natures Way Calcium Mag and D Complex
Calcium and Magnesium are essential for Healthy Bones, Teeth, and Muscle Function. Both include an Advanced Chelate Complex for optimal absorption. Vitamin D assists in the transport and retention of calcium.
Source Naturals L-Arginine L-Citrulline Complex
L-Arginine is an important factor in muscle metabolism and is a precursor for nitric oxide, which promotes increased circulation by relaxing blood vessels. L-Citrulline helps the body rid itself of ammonia, a by-product of exercise. This clearing enables the body to recover after a workout.
VitaCost Hyaluronic Acid with BioCell Collagen 2
Provides the body with the raw materials needed to support joint and connective tissue health. Helps promote cellular renewal and structure. Supports joints, skin and all connective tissues.
I am not a doctor, so I am not qualified to treat, diagnose, or prevent any medical conditions whatsoever. If you think that you have tennis or golfers elbow, you need to be properly diagnosed by your doctor so he can help you determine the correct treatment. Do not do any of the exercises for tennis elbow in this article without first checking with your doctor. There are other medical conditions that can cause you to have pain similar to tennis and golfers elbow, so make sure you check with your doctor even if the pain is mild.