It would be remiss of us to not cover tennis elbow in our series of tennis injury blogs!

Tennis elbow is one of the most well-known tennis injuries, yet its name is somewhat deceiving, given that this common elbow problem probably affects as many non-tennis players as it does tennis players.

 

So, what is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow used to be known as “lateral epicondylitis” as the pain associated with this condition was thought to be caused by inflammation of the tendons in the forearm where they join the bony part on the outside of the elbow joint. However, more recent research published in the British Medical Journal indicates that the “itis” suffix (meaning inflammation) is a misnomer [1]. Tennis elbow is more accurately described as a reversible but degenerative overuse injury of the tendons and is not, in fact, associated with inflammation. Any activity that involves gripping and twisting of the forearm can cause this type of strain so, tennis, but also DIY (this repetitive use of a screw driver), playing certain musical instruments, and even canoeing could be the cause of your pain! Tennis elbow has a better ring to it that “canoers elbow” though!

 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may vary from mild discomfort when you move your arm to the pain being bad enough to disturb your sleep. Pain is felt on the outside of your elbow but you may also experience pain further down your forearm. Repetitive movements of the wrist will make the pain worse, especially if combined with a weight, for example a tennis racket!

 

Hub top tips for tennis elbow:

  • Prepare your body: Supplement your tennis practice with exercises that build strength in the muscles of your wrists and forearms.
  • Warm up sufficiently: Include wrist and forearm stretches in your warm-up to prepare the muscles and tendons for activity.
  • Use the right racket: Use a racket appropriate for your body size. Often changing the racket grip size and technique can help.
  • Avoid over-repetition: Given tennis elbow is primarily an overuse injury caused by repetitive motion, avoid overuse by limiting the number of times you repeat a stroke, changing strokes throughout practice sessions, and cross-training to build supporting muscle groups.
  • See one of our Hub Osteopaths: If your elbow pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, you would benefit from seeing one of our osteopaths.

 

Here at Hub, in Clapham, we can help you to manage pain and improve your strength and flexibility. Importantly, we will help you identify what exactly has caused the problem and find ways to modify what you are currently doing, in order to prevent it happening again.

As discussed in our previous blog tennis is a dynamic game involving a full body kinetic chain. As such, tennis elbow is not always a simple elbow issue and may stem from strength or movement limitations in your shoulder or hips.

Our registered osteopaths will help you get to the root cause of your problem and get you back on the court!

 

  [1] Orchard John, Kountouris Alex. The management of tennis elbow BMJ 2011

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