It is not uncommon for athletes to develop lateral epicondylitis or commonly referred to as tennis elbow. Almost all tennis layers are prone to develop these conditions and a vast majority of them bounce back to the game after a brief period of rest. This is because they have learned to win over the ailment and have learned the technique to master it.
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What is Tennis Elbow?
This is a persistent condition commonly suffered by tennis players, where the delicate tendons of the elbow become inflamed owing to repetitive and abusive use. When these tendons are subjected to damage, it becomes persistent for a long time, and can even become resistant to healing. Thus, it is important to prevent tennis elbow rather than looking for ways to correct it, post recurrence.
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Preventing Tennis Elbow – A Few Basic Tips
Before checking in detail, the ways to prevent tennis elbow, here are some basic precautionary steps that tennis players should follow to prevent its occurrence in the first place.
- Perform stretching exercises to strengthen the muscles of the wrist and the forearm.
- If you have to use the same hand movements over and over again, try using braces or some supportive aids.
- Use more of the shoulder muscles and the muscles of the upper arm, to ease the strain off the elbow.
- Avoid too much bending and straightening the arm.
- Always make sure to indulge in stretch exercises before playing the tennis game.
- Choose the right type of racquet. Lightweight racquets with soft strings and large grips can ease the strain on the tendons.
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Top 9 Ways to Prevent Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a painful sensation over the outer portion of the elbow, owing to the repetitive and frequent use of the arm. The muscles and tendons around the elbow area get inflamed resulting in tremendous pain and pressure. This condition is common for a tennis player and can also be found in other games and professions involving much use of the arm. The following are the ways to prevent tennis elbow:
1. Perform a lot of forearm exercises:
It is mandatory to perform wrist flexion and extension exercises every day to strengthen the forearm muscles. Exercises for tennis elbow can be of two types.
a. Finger stretch exercises:
To perform this exercise, bind the fingers to the thumb and secure them with a rubber band including the thumb. Open the thumb and the fingers all the way and close them. Repeat this exercise up to 25 times and do this exercise at least 25 times a day. If this exercise becomes too easy, then it is good to use two rubber bands.
b. Wrist flexor stretch exercises:
To perform this exercise, hold the arm straight out so that the elbow is not bent and the palm is facing up. Use the other hand to hold the fingers of the outstretched hand and bend it back towards the body, until they are felt in the inner forearm. Hold in this position for 15 seconds and repeat the exercise up to three to five times. This exercise should be performed two to three times a day.
2. Avoid doing repetitive exercises:
For those who are active in a particular sport, that involves high impact or hitting movements involving the arm, it is important to add a cross-training regimen to offset the activities. For those who have not played for a while, the players have to make sure to start slow, and then ease back to play. It might take several weeks to build the strength back up and return to a proper forearm technique and form that the player once had. More the tired the player is more likely to break proper form and cause injuries.
3. It is important to take breaks in-between:
Tennis players should consider taking frequent breaks in their practice sessions if they feel they are indulging themselves in strenuous exercises and if their body demands a break. It is important to take ample rest and breaks in-between matches, as playing sports that require tremendous arm movement can too strenuous on the elbow. Even during the match and during rest breaks, remember to apply ice over the affected elbow, to minimize inflammation and to ease off the pain.
4. Maintain good posture and form for the game:
For those who are not using the arms of the forearm frequently or n a regular basis, then they should start slow while practicing new games in tennis. They should follow a physical conditioning regimen and exercise the muscles to make them strong and flexible to bear stress. Perform exercises such as arm rotation, push-ups, bending, and stretching exercises to strengthen the muscles. These will help to stress the forearm muscles and tendons and places impact on larger muscles such as the chest, biceps, and back.
5. Check the tennis equipment frequently:
If the tennis racket is heavy and large and even if the racket is very small, it can cause unnecessary strain on the arm. Players can consider replacing the tennis racket with a flexible and lightweight racket. They can also make sure that the racket is not very large on the arm. It is better to consult with professionals to have a proper fit on the tennis equipment.
6. Always warm up before the match:
It is important to do stretching exercises and warm-up before initiating the tennis match, to get the muscles to work, and to pump blood in them. Warming up will allow the muscles to be very flexible and also improves the range of motion. It also prepares the muscles to bear stress while playing tennis. This also will decrease the risk of injury to the elbow and other delicate tendons on the arm.
7. Maintain a proper technique while playing the game:
Get coaching from a professional tennis coach, to ensure that you are using a proper game form and technique. This is much important to avoid using the muscles in the wrong way, preventing the occurrence of tennis elbow. Better the technique, the lesser is the risk of injury. A good tennis technique will allow the player to play longer, as there will be less stress on the tendons and the muscles.
8. Make use of a tennis elbow strap:
A tennis strap can be highly beneficial for players who suffer from tennis elbow. The tennis strap is a type of brace that should be worn below the elbow. It can also help to lessen the stress on the muscles, while playing tennis and it also helps to dissipate pain, throughout the forearm. The brace also helps in avoiding pressure on the tendon to reduce pain. Players should make sure not to pull the strap too tight, as it can cut off the blood circulation in the arm.
If the tennis players feel that their pain is getting worse, or if they feel even a slight aching in the elbow, then they should consult the doctor and get their elbow examined. In a nutshell, tennis players should avoid resting the arm for longer and use an ice pack to reduce inflammation. Taking over the counter pain medication can also help to relieve pain and inflammation. Consult a therapist at the earliest to avoid pain from getting worse.