Updated: Jun 29
The sun is shining, and Tennis season is upon us!
With Wimbledon’s Tennis Championships in full swing - Many people will be inspired to get back on the courts to whack some balls over the nets.
Unfortunately, this is also a time when injuries can occur -
Ankle Sprains - Due to the knees and ankles being put under stress during accelerating movements and quick changes of direction.
Tennis Elbow - Repeated overhead movements of the arms during serves and smashes also put considerable strain on the upper limbs.
So, as we’re talking Tennis …… Let’s talk about Tennis Elbow!
Tennis Elbow can strike at any time and you don’t have to be a tennis player to get it!
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is a common term used to describe chronic pain on the outside of the elbow.
It is an ‘Overuse’ repetitive strain injury causing inflammation in the tendons of the forearm muscles where they attach to the bony knobbly point of the bone on the outside of the elbow (the Lateral Epicondyle).
The inflammation can be caused by prolonged gripping activities, so people who play a lot of racket sports like tennis can be prone to developing tennis elbow.
Often due to -
Poor forearm muscle strength or tight muscles
Excessive gripping or wringing activities – possibly due to a new racket or different grip size.
Unaccustomed hand use such as starting the tennis season after a long break, or increasing the frequency or amount of time playing tennis too quickly.
People also at risk may include factory workers, cooks, painters, construction workers, canoeists, gardeners and those who use a mouse and keyboard frequently. Other activities include those requiring repetitive gripping actions or repetitive turning or lifting of the wrist.
Tennis Elbow may start as an ache but as the weeks / months go by the pain may worsen to a severe burning pain.
You will usually experience pain on the outside of the forearm below the elbow. Sometimes you may feel pain travelling down the arm. You may have a feeling of stiffness and usually feel a general weakness in the forearm.
Certain activities will usually cause pain including –
· Lifting the arm or lifting an object – even objects as light as coffee cups
· Bending your arm
· Attempting to write, grip objects (tennis racket) or make a fist
· shaking a person’s hand
· Twisting your forearm to open a jar lid
If you think you may be experiencing Tennis Elbow pain always get yourself checked & symptoms diagnosed by a physical therapist or G.P.
Untreated tennis elbow can last anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years(!)
· Physical therapy can however be very effective in both long and short term.
· Massage therapy can help to relieve any pain and help to lengthen and stretch tight muscles.
· Exercise therapy can be prescribed to strengthen and balance the muscles of the forearm; and stretches given to lengthen muscles and relieve pressure on nerves.
· The application of Ice to the area or Ultrasound therapy may be used to help reduce inflammation.
· Taping and Support Braces can be beneficial in reducing pain in the elbow and supporting the muscles when activities are resumed.
Unfortunately, Tennis Elbow can sometimes have a habit of recurring. So, it is very important to try and identify what caused the injury and address those issues.
Some Tennis Tips for preventing Tennis Elbow
· Increase your racket head size
· Don’t play with damp balls
· Play with newer balls
· Try a lighter racket
· Increase the racket grip size
· Use string vibration dampeners
· Reduce string tension
· Assess and learn the correct body position for a tennis shot – this will help to reduce the stress on the elbow, as the player should be using the weight and strength of the body rather than the arm.
Obviously, these tips are referring to tennis, but some changes are relevant to using tools / work equipment too –
Always increase your workload or tennis time gradually, allowing your body and muscles some time to adapt to new demands.
Conditioning your muscles and arms with specific exercises will undoubtedly help prevent the onset of Tennis Elbow .
Find a local physical therapist that may be able to advise you, or if you really enjoy and want to play more tennis - find your local tennis club where coaches will be able to advise you & you get to meet and play with fellow tennis players!
Ali Iles (MAR, MFHT) is a Reflexology & Massage Therapist based in Bristol, UK.
Offering Complementary Therapies to help bring relief from a wide range of acute and chronic conditions plus providing you with time for relaxation - relieving tension and helping to improve your sense of wellbeing and health.