For individuals between the ages of 30 and 50, there is an increased risk for sporting injuries. While some are more troublesome than others, one of the most common is tennis elbow.
Ranging from moderate to severe, the most common symptom of tennis elbow is pain which lives on the exterior of the forearm. Some are able to rest and relieve their pain with only mild over the counter medications. Others need more extensive help with their elbow— physical therapy exercises, elbow flexions, and a variety of other movements.
As such, we have compiled a list of tennis elbow exercises and stretches that allow you to gently stretch your muscles to return back to good health.
What is Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is the strain caused by overuse and micro tears in the lateral epicondylitis. These are the tendons and muscles that run along the exterior of your forearm, knitting to a point at the outer, pointed bone at the elbow (called the lateral epicondyle).
Tennis elbow is aggravated by strenuous and/or repetitive moments of the wrist, regardless of whether or not you are playing tennis. This means that individuals who lift heavy weights or frequently use their hands and writs, are at heightened risk for developing this type of injury.
However, there are many treatment exercises that can be done either at home or with a physical therapist in order to help mitigate the symptoms of this condition. Below are some recommendations to get you started.
Top Exercises to Ease Pain
The diagrams and exercises below are meant to help you develop an exercise program to promote muscle strength and flexibility in the epicondyle area. These exercises can be done in sets and practiced several times a week so long as they do not cause strain.
Remember: whenever performing the exercises below, keep your feet flat on the floor and legs straight if standing. Further, never continue an exercise that is causing pain or numbness.
1. Wrist Flexion
The primary movement behind a wrist flex is curling the wrist into the arm. This is done by slowly bending the wrist inward, holding for a few seconds, that slowly releasing into a neutral position. As the diagrams above show, this can be done in a manner of ways to either provide you with more support or a greater challenge.
For less intensity, place your arm on a well supported surface and bend your elbow at a 90 degree angle. This provides the highest level of support. You can also forego using a weight.
Forcreater intensity, work your way up to having your arm unsupported and using a slightly heavier weight (1-3lbs)
2. Wrist Extension
This exercise is similar to the one above but it moves in the opposite direction. Follow the previous instructions to determine how to lessen or increase the intensity.
3. Wrist Stretch
Wrist stretches are beneficial both as a warm up exercise in addition to a way to release tension in the epicondyle tendons.
For this stretch, it is important to not lock your elbow in place to ensure you do not risk injury. Once your arm is extended, the tendons and muscles are stretched by bending the wrist upwards and downwards while holding for a period of time. For best results, it’s recommended you hold the pose for a couple minutes on each wrist.
4. Forearm Twists (Supination and Pronation)
This exercise uses the range of motion of your wrist to help stretch and strengthen the epicondyle region. Here, similar to the other exercises, you can use a flat surface for added arm support and light weights to change the intensity of the exercise.
Here, you will start with your palm facing inward and slowly turn the wrist as though you are twisting a doorknob. Repeat this motion slowly, several times in a row, ensuring you utilize the full range of motion this wrist has to offer.
5. Miscellaneous Strengthening
There are several other methods of maintaining arm and hand strength while you are recovering from tennis elbow. These are simple exercises that can be done at any time in small increments.
In the first illustration, we see using a stress ball can be a valuable grip training tool. Similarly, using a hair tie and extending the finders outward, as in the second diagram, helps further strengthening these muscles.
Over time, this will increase grip strength— something that can potentially devalin when suffering from epicondyle industries.
Seeking Professional Help
While these exercises are effective for many types of pain, there is a certain point where you need to involve professional help. Especially in cases of severe or persistent pain, seeking pain management allows for you to have a wider range of resources available to you including physical therapy, medications, and even alternative treatment suggestions such as acupuncture.
When looking for pain management options, Arizona Pain and Spine prides ourselves in connecting patients with the right care providers to overcome their pain. To start your journey, contact us at (480) 986-7246 for more information and get on the path to discussing your next treatment options.