Tennis elbow is a common injury in day-to-day life, though most people treat it as just a normal pain that goes away on its own. However, if not treated and managed in time, tennis elbow may lead to more complications and make performing daily activities harder.
To avoid that, we have created a quick guide on the best exercises for tennis elbow. But before moving to elbow exercises, let’s take a look at what exactly is a tennis elbow, its symptoms, causes, and treatment:
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow, uncommonly and scientifically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition when the tendons connecting the elbow to the forearm are overused, swell and cause pain. The excessive use and repetitive jerks and twists of the tendons wear them out and microtear occurs, causing inflammation and pain.
The name ‘Tennis Elbow’ is a misnomer as any work which involves overusing elbow joints can cause tennis elbow, not just tennis as a sport. It usually happens to both men and women, particularly in the age group of 30 to 50 years.
What are the symptoms of Tennis Elbow?
If you are suffering from one, you know the symptoms by now. There is pain and tenderness in the area outside the elbow. The nearby parts also get affected and there may be inflammation.
The pain may also diffuse to the upper and lower arm.
Since the whole arm is linked with tendons, muscles and bones, you might feel pain even while working with your fingers.
Tennis elbow will pain the most when you do any of the following:
- Grip something or make a tight fist
- Lift something
- Raise your hand or straighten it
- Twisting wrist or jerking your hand while playing a sport
What are the causes of Tennis Elbow?
Before you start treatment such as tennis elbow exercises, you must be familiar with its causes. The most common cause of tennis elbow is the repetitive and strenuous use of the forearm or its muscles and tendons.
Apart from this major cause of tennis elbow, several other activities can also lead to this:
- Playing sports involving racquets (badminton, tennis, squash)
- Playing sports involving throws (javelin throw, discuss )
- Repetitive use of hand tools (screwdriver, scissors, or gardening equipment )
- Activities involving the use of fingers for a long duration (sewing, knitting, typing, plumbing)
- Activities involving the bending of elbows several times (musical instruments like piano, drumming, etc.)
How is Tennis Elbow Treatment done?
The tennis elbow treatment can be done in several ways. But we will look at simple exercises for tennis elbow that anyone can do at the comfort and ease of their home.
Tennis elbow is a form of tendinitis i.e. swelling of the tendons (of the elbow and arm). Therefore, elbow tendonitis exercises or exercises for elbow pain are recommended by professionals.
The elbow tendonitis exercises work the tendons (affected area) gently and yet effectively relieve the joint from the built-up stress and pain. Therefore, we recommend these exercises for tennis elbow.
What are the Top 5 Exercises For Tennis Elbow?
1. Simple Wrist Turn
As the name suggests, this is one of the simple elbow exercises you can perform. It involves the use of your wrist and elbow. They are bent, stretched, and relaxed to ease up the tension that has built up in the tendons.
Instructions to do Simple Wrist Turn:
- Bend your elbow at the right angle.
- Stretch out your hand, palm facing upwards.
- Slowly rotate your arm till the palm faces downward.
- Hold the position for five seconds.
- Repeat the process nine more times.
- Do this twice or thrice a day.
- You can also use light weights such as a dumbbell if comfortable.
2. Grip and Squeeze
This exercise involves the use of the fingers and palm and involves the movement of the muscles and the tendons in the forearm. For such tennis elbow exercises, you will need a rubber ball or just a cotton towel.
Instructions to do Grip and Squeeze:
- Take a soft rubber ball or rolled cotton towel.
- Grip the ball or towel with fingers.
- Squeeze it tightly for 10 seconds.
- Repeat eight to ten times.
3. Finger Stretch
As the name suggests, the fingers are stretched and relaxed with the help of a rubber band. This eases up the pent-up pressure in the joints and increases its fluidity.
Instructions to do Finger Stretch :
- Place a rubber band around your thumb and fingers.
- Cup your hand a little.
- Gently spread your fingers and thumb.
- Slowly bring them back together.
- Repeat at least 15 times.
4. Towel Twist
It is one of the easiest tennis elbow stretches you can do at home. It involves the use of a towel and uses the wrist and forearm muscles, rhythmically twisting them and releasing them.
Instructions to do Towel Twist:
- Roll up a towel.
- Hold it in both hands some distance apart.
- Twist the towel, both hands working in opposite directions.
- Repeat the process 10 times in both directions.
5. Wrist Extension
Let’s move to some stretches that also involve your wrists and some weight. A wrist extension not only improves the tennis elbow, but it can also boost the hand’s mobility.
Instructions to do Wrist Extension:
- Sit down comfortably in a chair.
- Hold a light dumbbell in your hand.
- Rest your elbow on your knee in a relaxed manner, dumbbell hanging downwards.
- Extend your wrist towards yourself by curling it.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Repeat ten times.
- Don’t use any weight if it feels too heavy.
Tips to Avoid Tennis Elbow
- Do a proper warm-up and gently stretch your arms and fingers before starting exercises for elbow pain.
- Work under a coach or a trainer while doing high-intensity activities (such as sports, intensive weight loss exercise, etc.) involving repetitive arm movements. The application of ice packs will also come in handy.
- Get a tennis elbow splint or brace on the advice of a physiotherapist.
- Don’t expect quick results and perform exercises for tennis elbow even if you do workout at home).
Done reading everything about the exercises for tennis elbow, it is time to start your workout. However, keep in mind that if your elbow pain increases, consult a specialist or a doctor and then proceed with the above-mentioned exercises for tennis elbow. You can also talk to your gym expert and they can guide you with the best and simple workout.
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