“Tennis Elbow” (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Updated: May 8
One of the most commonly associated injuries with tennis, given that it literally has “tennis” in the name. “Tennis elbow,” or lateral epicondylitis, as it’s known medically, is basically a painful condition at the tendons of the outer forearm muscles by the outer part of the elbow. Early symptoms can start off as mild pain and tenderness from overuse of these tendons, which typically respond quickly to treatment. However, most people wait until the pain has built up so much over time that it becomes persistent and sharp. Chronic irritation causes bigger issues in the tendon due to the change in tissue quality in the tendon, which continues to make things worse and typically require longer treatment.
Things to Pay Attention To:
1. Racquet choice – based on the last post, racquet selection is important with respects to how your arm feels after hitting with it. Static weight, swingweight, balance and stiffness will have an impact on the stress to your arm.
2. String selection – polyester strings have become more and more popular, but tend to be a bit stiffer feeling, which can be uncomfortable on the arm. There are softer polyester strings but often multifilament or natural gut strings tend to be more comfortable on the arm.
3. Swing path – some players tend to use their wrist a whole lot more to strike the ball and mimic their favorite pro tennis player, like Rafa Nadal.
4. Grip size – smaller grip sizes can increase gripping the handle too tightly at contact to keep the racquet from twisting in your hand, but aggravating the elbow.
5. Timing – late timing when hitting the ball can create increased force on your arm with poor wrist and shoulder positioning to absorb that force.
Some Exercises to Address Local Tissues:
1. Eccentric strengthening of wrist extension
2. Palloff Press
Get checked out by a physical therapist, figure out the causes, and get a clear game plan on how to get back to playing without pain at the elbow.
Talk to a PT to Get Started!