Take a swing at these effective exercises for addressing tennis elbow.
Are you experiencing sharp pain or burning sensations along the outside of your elbow? Has your grip seemed weaker than usual, or have you found yourself frequently dropping items?
If you are experiencing these telltale symptoms, it’s likely that tennis elbow is to blame; especially if you are a person whose activities or lifestyle involves intense, repetitive forearm use. But before your mind turns to intensive orthopedic treatments or tennis elbow surgery, one of the most effective treatment methods for addressing tennis elbow symptoms is targeted tennis elbow exercises, including simple routines that can be performed at home.
What, exactly, is tennis elbow?
Known medically as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow describes an inflammatory condition that affects the tendons of the forearm. The extensor tendons attach the forearm muscles to the outside of lateral epicondyle bone in the elbow joint. Overuse can cause small tears to form in the tendon where it attaches to this bone. These injuries tend to occur gradually.
Despite its name, tennis elbow isn’t specific to tennis players. Though racket players are at high risk due to the intense, repetitive forearm motions central to these sports, anyone who regularly exposes their forearm muscles and tendons to vigorous use may experience this injury. That may include athletes, from baseball and tennis players to fencers and weightlifters; it may also include workers, including painters, plumbers, carpenters, and more.
Targeted Tennis Elbow Exercises
Exercise may have been the root cause of your tennis elbow symptoms, but that doesn’t mean that exercise can’t also be a source of healing and relief. Targeted exercises and stretches can help to strengthen the muscles and connective tissues of the forearm and to repair the musculoskeletal damage that has accrued. Listed below are three simple routines that you can perform at home.
These routines are recommended for cases in which inflammation is minor or has been reduced following rest, icing, compression, elevation, and other treatments. If inflammation is severe, see a doctor or orthopedic specialist before beginning these exercises.
- Fist Clench
This simple routine can help to strengthen the long flexor tendons of the fingers and thumb and to restore gripping strength.
Place your forearm on a flat surface, holding a small ball in your hand. Squeeze for ten seconds, then release and repeat. Perform sets of ten clenches.
- Extension Exercise
The extensor muscles power wrist-bending motions and tend to be the most severely affected forearm component among tennis elbow patients. Wrist extension routines can help to strengthen weakened or damaged muscles.
Holding a small (two pounds or less) dumbbell with your palm facing downward, place your elbow on your knee and curl your wrist toward yourself. This will extend the wrist and extensor muscles. Perform sets of ten extensions at a time.
- Wrist Turn
Turning your wrist and forearm in a controlled exercise can likewise strengthen the affected muscles and tendons.
Hold your hand out with the palm facing upwards and the elbow at a right angle. Without moving your arm, turn your wrist and rotate your palm until it is facing downward. Hold for five seconds, then release. Perform three sets of ten turns. This exercise may also be performed holding a light weight, such as a two-pound dumbbell.
These three simple tennis elbow exercises can help to stimulate healing and restoration following a tennis elbow injury or proactively strengthen your forearm to prevent injuries from occurring. While these exercises may be performed at home, patients in need of full tennis elbow physical therapy programs or more specialized tennis elbow treatments can find the most effective and comprehensive care available at OrthoAspen.
If you’ve experienced a tennis elbow injury and are in pursuit of top orthopedic care in the Aspen, CO region, contact OrthoAspen today.