You don’t have to swing a tennis racket to suffer from tennis elbow. The pain you feel in your elbow and up and down your arm isn’t exclusive to the court. If you work in a kitchen or click a mouse all day long, you may encounter the same pain so read this article and learn 6 exercises for tennis elbow.
In most cases, you can treat tennis elbow and sprained UCL on your own. There are a number of exercises you can do to help alleviate pain and stave off further injury. First, it is important to understand what tennis elbow is, what the symptoms are, and how it is treated.
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow occurs when you overuse the tendons attached to your elbow. This produces pain, typically felt at the point where forearm muscle tendons join the bone on the outside of the elbow. Pain can radiate down through your forearm to your wrist or up toward your shoulder.
Repetitive contraction of the forearm muscles that straighten the wrist and raise the hand strain those muscles and lead to pain. Pain comes in the form of tiny tears in the tendons that connect those muscles to the elbow.
Arm motions that can lead to tennis elbow include overuse of plumbing tools, screwdrivers or any tool that causes repetitive twisting of the wrist, making contractors and construction workers prone to the malady. Painters often suffer from tennis elbow, as do cooks and butchers who spend a lot of time cutting meat, vegetables and other ingredients. While carpal tunnel syndrome and shoulder impingement syndrome is more prevalent among office workers, those who do a lot of work with a computer mouse can also experience tennis elbow.
What Are Tennis Elbow Symptoms?
Pain that radiates from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist is the main symptom of tennis elbow. This pain can hinder a person’s grip, making it difficult to complete tasks such as holding a glass or turning a doorknob. Home remedies, pain relievers and certain exercises can help relieve pain. If pain persists, make an appointment with your doctor to have your injury evaluated.
Who Gets Tennis Elbow?
As was stated before, anyone can get tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is prevalent in many professions. Work around the home, as well as certain recreational activities, can also cause tennis elbow pain. That said, there are some things that increase your risk of developing the injury.
Age may play a role, as doctors see more patients in their 30s, 40s and 50s than any other age group. Those people are usually in professions that demand repetitive movement of the wrist and forearm.
How Do You Treat Tennis Elbow?
Treatment for tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow begins at home. Once diagnosed, depending on the severity of the injury, you will likely meet with a physical therapist. The physical therapist will work with you to develop the right exercises that will gradually stretch and strengthen forearm muscles and increase wrist mobility. Eccentric exercises, or exercises that focus on active muscles lengthening under load, such as a bicep curl, work well to strengthen the wrist and build the forearm.
In more severe cases of tennis elbow, your doctor may prescribe a different treatment regime. This could include injections, ultrasonic percutaneous tenotomy or surgery. You can also read the complete guide to rotator cuff exercises.
Injection therapy could include a technique called dry needling, also called myofascial trigger point dry needling. During this process, similar to acupuncture, a practitioner uses a needle to pierce the tendon and muscle in several places. This is considered an alternative medicine technique and studies have not shown whether the practice is effective. Some studies show that it can help some muscle pain. Other studies show that it has no benefit when compared with a placebo treatment.
Ultrasonic percutaneous tenotomy is a successful technique used by medical professionals for a number of tendon injuries. During this process, a doctor repeatedly passes a needle into the abnormal tendon. The goal is to convert a chronic degenerative process into an acute inflammatory condition. If successful, this will lead to tendon healing.
If exercise and other techniques fail, surgery is an option. Through a large incision or a series of small incisions, a surgeon removes damaged tissue. Rehab and physical therapy are extremely important if patients hope to make a full recovery.
Help with tennis-related symptoms may require an expert who can evaluate serving and volleying technique. Adjustments can help keep tennis elbow from recurring. Similar changes in motion can assist sufferers in other professions as well.
What Exercises Can You Do To Alleviate Tennis Elbow?
There are a number of exercises, both stretching and strengthening, that tennis elbow sufferers can try to help alleviate pain and stave off future trouble. As always, it is best to consult a physician before undertaking any exercise or rehabilitation plan.
3 Stretching Exercises for Tennis Elbow
When taking on any stretching exercise to prevent tennis elbow, it is important to remember that these exercises are not for losing weight or body shaping. They are for rehab. Take it slow, move easily and let your body be your guide. If you are on a physician’s plan, follow your regime as closely as possible and consider continuing the exercises even after your tennis elbow has healed.
1. Wrist Extensor
With this exercise, you want to place your arm forward. Point your hand down, your fingers pointed at the ground. Then, slowly pull your hand up, in a motion similar to a wave. Feel your tendons stretch in the back of your wrist. You should also feel the muscles in your forearm, up to your elbow, tighten as well. Hold this for 20 seconds or more and repeat in sets of five. Don’t overdo it. Three sets should be enough. To extend the stretch, rotate your forearm inward. You should feel it in your elbow.
2. Partner Tennis Elbow
Start by placing your arm out to your side. Now rotate it inward, or downward, toward your body. Flex your wrist by bending it in an up-and-down motion. If you can find someone to assist, you can complete the exercise easier. Once in position, do your best to hold the position for 30 seconds. Do your best to do hold the pose five times. Repeat the exercise three times a day.
3. Neural stretch
You can injure nerves in much the same way muscles are injured. Pain in other parts of the body, such as the neck, can contribute to greater pain in the elbow. If you work to release this tension, you can help alleviate added stress and pain to your tennis elbow injury. Neural or nerve stretching can release tension and help increase the benefits of other stretch exercises. Start by holding the stretch for about five seconds. Do not increase the time to start and do not continue the stretch if you feel any pain. As time passes, you can increase the length of the stretch. Do your best to work your way up to 10 seconds.
3 Strengthening Exercises for Tennis Elbow
Strengthening exercise serve a specific purpose. They are designed to help build muscle strength and keep further bouts of tennis elbow at bay. As such, perform them after you are free of pain. Beginning too early could aggravate the injury and cause more pain. Ideally, a doctor or specialist will give you the approval to begin strength exercises. If at any time during your regime your pain returns, dial back your exercises, take a day or two off, and, when you are once more pain-free, resume the exercises.
1. Isometric Wrist Extension
Isometrics is a form of exercise in which there is little movement. Instead, the practitioner pushes against a solid force, creating resistance, which contracts and builds muscle. One of the best ways to practice isometrics is with a partner who can provide resistance and make adjustments when necessary. If you do not have a partner for these exercises, a solid surface such as a desk or door will work. Start this exercise by place your palm face down. Press against a table if necessary. Now lift your hand by bending it at the wrist, letting your fingers point toward the sky. Hold this position for five seconds, rest, and then repeat. See if you can do three sets of five.
2. Finger Extension
You will need a rubber band for this exercise. Now, bring your fingers together, almost as if you are making a puppet. Let all your fingertips touch. Place the rubber band over your fingers and push it back between your first and second knuckles. Now open and close your fingers, using the rubber band as resistance. Hold the position for five seconds, and then repeat. Try to do three sets of five.
3. Dynamic Wrist Extension
Somewhat similar to the finger extension exercise, the dynamic wrist extension exercise focuses on the tendons and muscles that make up the wrist. For this exercise, you will need a lightweight or a resistance band. Now, place your forearm on your knee with your palm face up. Place the weight in your hand and then extend the wrist. If you do not have a weight, you can substitute with a resistance band. Hold one end of the band with your foot and place the other end in your extended hand. Do one set of 10 reps a day. Slowly build to three sets of 20.
Tennis elbow is not an injury reserved for tennis players. Everyday people from plumbers to programmers deal with the issue. As long as you follow your doctor’s recommendations and watch your pain level, you can start recovery by trying specific stretches and strengthening exercises for your wrist, forearm and elbow.