Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition that affects not only tennis players but also individuals from various walks of life. This painful condition can hinder daily activities and sports performance, making rehabilitation exercises crucial for recovery. In this article, we will explore a comprehensive set of rehabilitation exercises that can help alleviate the symptoms and strengthen the affected arm.
Tennis Elbow: Not just the forearm
Tennis Elbow, doesn’t just affect the forearm. It is hugely important to take into consideration the whole arm and shoulder girdle when addressing rehabilitation exercises for this condition.
The first thing to take into consideration, is your upper body posture. Take a look in the mirror, or get a friend to take a picture of you side on. Do your Head, Shoulder, Hips and Ankles line up?If your head is forward of your shoulders, this needs to be addressed in any strengthening program. A forward head posture will lead to a rounding of the shoulders and this in turn leads to tensions down the arm that can eventually lead to Tennis Elbow.
Exercise solutions for Tennis Elbow
Let’s start with some stretching options.
It is important to open up the chest and remove tension from the whole arm and shoulder area. Just loosening the forearm will not create permanent solutions for Tennis Elbow. All stretches should be held for at least 20 seconds to get a good release. Here are some stretching ideas, use whichever one is more practical for you.
- Stand in a doorway and place both elbows on the door frame. Have your elbows at approx. 90 degrees and your feet in the centre of the door frame, if possible. Then gently lean forward and you should feel a stretch across your chest area.
- Lie on your side on the floor. Bend your knees up towards you chest. Place your lower arm (the one you are lying on) on your knees to stop them moving. Place your upper arm on the floor in front of you. Try to take your hand and arm over your head, whilst keeping your hand on the floor and your elbow as straight as possible.
- For the Forearm: Stand facing the wall with your palms facing downwards. Bend your wrist and press the back of your hand into the wall, this will create a stretch along the forearm.
If you are finding it hard to stretch, you may need a Sports Massage to get you started. If so, get in touch and we can help you with that.
Strength exercises for Tennis Elbow
Having loosened some of the tension, the next thing is to strengthen and realign the whole shoulder girdle. Retraction exercises work well for this.
- Using an exercise band. Hold the band in your hands, with your arms out in front of you. Hold them at about shoulder height with straight elbows. Keeping your elbows straight, pull the band apart so the band ends up tight, just under your chest. Take a look at this video for more information.
- Again using an exercise band, with your elbows bent and your palms facing up. Keep the elbow tight touching the ribs and hold the band in your hands. With a bent elbow pull the band apart. Hopefully this video will help.
- To specifically strengthen the forearm muscles, grab a small weight such as a 0.5kg weight or a half litre bottle of water. Place your hand on a tabletop with the weight in your hand. It is often easier if you have your hand hanging off the table but your forearm sitting on the table. Then slowly lift your hand at the wrist, without lifting your forearm off the table.
All strength exercises should be done slowly and with control. All too often, strength exercises are done too quickly and this limits the strength gains that are achieved. Similarly, strength work should be done every other day ,as it is during rest, that the muscles actually make strength gains.
To understand more about how we would assess and treat Tennis Elbow, take a look at this page. If you are struggling with understanding what exercises would work in your situation, get in touch and we can assess and create you a bespoke training program.