Accelerate Physical Therapy

Effective Exercises to Help with Tennis Elbow

Perhaps you have just been to the doctor and were a little confused when they diagnosed you with tennis elbow, when you haven’t played the sport in a long time. The name of the condition can certainly throw you off if you haven’t lifted a tennis racquet in quite a while, or ever.

However, tennis elbow is not just for people who play tennis. In fact, it really has nothing to do with the game, but rather the motion that the game typically encourages. Any time there is repetitive motion and stress with the forearm, the risk is there to develop tennis elbow. It’s really an issue of the tendon being overused with similar and frequent movement. This often can lead to small tears in the tendon, resulting in inflammation and tenderness.

It can be an occupational hazard for carpenters, painters, butchers, or athletes who frequently repeat the same movement with the arm and wrist. However, there are easy-to-do treatments for this painful condition, including stretching and strength training.

Stretches that can be Performed Daily

Stretching exercises will help achieve more flexibility in the tendons and muscles located in the forearm. This will not only help with recuperating from the injury, but also help prevent future ones from occurring. When the tendons and muscles are properly stretched on a regular basis, it will relieve joint stiffness and reduce tendon shortening.

An easy one to do is to extend your arm in front of you, and flex the wrist upward, in a similar motion when saying “stop” with your hand. Use your other hand to gently pull your fingertips backward, just enough to feel a good stretch in your forearm. Next, move the wrist in the opposite direction, with your fingers pointing down towards the floor. Each of these stretches should be held for about 30 seconds, and repeated 3-5 times each.

Exercises for Healing and Strength

In addition to stretching, exercises are important to gain strength in helping to prevent future injury, as well as stimulating blood flow for healing of the present injury. Here are four examples of what you might be asked to do if you go to physical therapy, or could easily do on your own to help prevent injury:

1. Wrist Variation

  • Sit with one arm supported on a flat surface, so that the hand dangles off the edge
  • Hold the hand outward, similar to holding it out to shake someone’s hand
  • Move the hand up and down, approximately 10-12 times
  • Change arms, and repeat the above steps
  • Repeat twice for each arm

2. Tennis Ball (or sock) Squeeze

  • Place a tennis ball in your hand, or a sock that is rolled up
  • Squeeze the ball or sock by making a fist
  • Hold the squeeze for approximately 6-8 seconds
  • Relax your hand for about 10 seconds
  • Repeat the squeeze 8-12 times
  • Change hands and repeat each step

3. Bicep Curls (requires a handheld weight)

  • Sit and lean forward, keeping your legs spread about shoulder width apart
  • Keep one hand on the same thigh
  • Put your opposite elbow on the parallel thigh, holding the weight
  • Slowly and gently raise the weight up to the chest
  • Repeat this move 8-12 times
  • Change arms and repeat all steps

4. Wrist Curls (requires a handheld weight)

  • Put one forearm flat on a table
  • Dangle your hand over the edge of the table, with your palm facing up
  • Using a 1-2 pound weight, use your oppotise hand to raise and lower your hand at the wrist only.  Slowly lower your hand and weight.
  • Repeat this movement 8-12 times
  • Change arms and repeat all steps
  • Repeat all the steps above for both arms again, with palm facing down

Exercises 3 and 4 can also be done with canned goods or bottled water used as weights when at home. You don’t have to run out to buy dumbbells and find a place to store them if you don’t want to, or just want to see how it goes at first.

The key is that if you do a lot of repetitive motion with your forearm, you run the risk of developing tennis elbow someday, if you haven’t already. And, you don’t have to wait until you develop it to do the above exercises in combating it.