Tennis elbow also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition caused by the overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons in the arm, particularly those that attach to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. To prevent tennis elbow, it’s essential to strengthen the muscles, improve flexibility, and use proper technique during activities that strain the forearm. Here is a guide to exercises recommended by physiotherapists to prevent tennis
1. Wrist Flexor and Extensor Strengthening: Wrist Flexion Exercise: Hold a lightweight dumbbell or a resistance band in your hand, palm facing up. Rest your forearm on a table with your wrist hanging off the edge. Flex your wrist upward and then slowly lower it. Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
Wrist Extension Exercise: Similar to the flexion exercise, but with your palm facing down. Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
2. Forearm Pronation and Supination: Hold a dumbbell or a weight in your hand with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your forearm on a table. Rotate your forearm to turn your palm up and then down. Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
3. Eccentric Strengthening: Eccentric exercises involve lengthening the muscle under tension. For tennis elbow prevention, this can be done with a lightweight dumbbell. Hold the dumbbell with your palm facing down, then slowly lower it with control. This works the extensor muscles that often become strained in tennis elbow. Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
4. Wrist Range of Motion Exercises: Perform wrist circles and figure-eight motions to improve wrist mobility. This helps in maintaining flexibility and reducing the risk of injury.
5. Stretching Exercises: Stretch the forearm muscles to maintain flexibility and prevent tension. Here are two stretches:
Wrist Flexor Stretch: Extend your arm in front of you, palm up, and gently pull your fingers downward with your other hand.
Wrist Extensor Stretch: Extend your arm in front of you, palm down, and gently pull your fingers upward with your other hand. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
6. Grip Strengthening: Squeeze a stress ball or tennis ball to strengthen your hand and forearm muscles.
7. Technique Improvement: If you play tennis or engage in activities that involve repetitive arm motions, work with a coach or physiotherapist to improve your technique. Proper technique can significantly reduce the risk of tennis elbow.
8. Gradual Progression: Avoid sudden, intense increases in activity. Gradually build up your strength and endurance to prevent overuse injuries.
It’s important to consult a physiotherapist or sports medicine professional for a personalized exercise program tailored to your specific needs and to ensure you are using proper form. Additionally, if you experience pain or discomfort, it’s essential to rest, apply ice, and seek medical attention to prevent further injury or exacerbation of tennis elbow.