Repetitive strokes can result in tennis elbow – but prevention is better than cure. Tennis elbow is a very common complaint which is difficult to help once it becomes chronic. The good news is that there are some useful steps that can be taken to reduce your chances of developing it!
The symptoms are typically pain and tenderness over the outer point of the elbow, which can radiate over the muscles of the back of the forearm. The pain is aggravated by tennis strokes and can be triggered by something as simple as lifting a kettle. The muscles that extend the wrist and fingers, and that are involved in gripping, blend into one tendon that attaches at the point of the elbow. After too much repetitive movement, this tendon breaks down and becomes unable to cope with the forces that are being put through it.
How to prevent it
Maintain flexibility throughout the year. If you start playing in the summer, having taken the winter off, you are setting yourself up for trouble! Stiffness in the neck and shoulders and weakness in your abdominal muscles can all contribute to strain. Our physios can design exercises to build up strength in your arm, shoulder, upper back and core muscles. The tennis strokes are a combination of strength that comes from your arms but also your trunk and legs.
Warm up and stretch before a game to prepare your muscles. Start on the service line with some mini-tennis until your muscles are warm before stepping back to the baseline and letting rip!
Correct your technique as a common mistake is to use your wrist too much and not let the strength come from the trunk and shoulders. Try to strike the ball with a good solid, neutral wrist position.
Make sure your racket is the correct size, shape and weight for your build. Ensure your grip is not too small or too large allowing your racket to twist too much in your hand. A flexible racket with a large sweet spot and lower string tension will reduce the load.
Just taking up tennis? Come and see one of our physios first. We can do a screen assessment, identify potential injury sites and give you a tailored programme to correct imbalances.
If you are unlucky enough to develop the problem, the good news is that we have a Shortwave Therapy machine for chronic tendon problems.
Diana Wilson runs Physio on the River in Barnes Bridge Station where her team of physios and other therapists can help you recover from pain and injury. We are celebrating 25 years in business!