6 Tips for Preventing Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is a form of tendonitis affecting 1-3% of the population. It occurs when you overstrain the tissues that attach your arm muscles to your elbow joint. For example, when you repetitively swing a tennis racket while playing a match, the swinging motion can put pressure on your elbow or lower arm and cause pain.
But even if you don’t play tennis, you still might be at risk. If your job requires you to make repetitive arm movements, or if you play a sport where you use a swinging motion, knowing how to prevent tennis elbow can save you from potential pain.
Solomon Behar, MD, is an expert, pain management physician and leads our team at Functional Health Center, located in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida. We provide residents throughout Miami Dade County with innovative therapies to heal your body. We offer special attention to tennis elbow, treating it with shockwave therapy. We can also advise on how to prevent it.
Here are six tips to help you avoid tennis elbow:
1. Warm-up your entire body
If you play sports, you probably already do some exercises, like gently jogging and stretching, to get your body ready for activity. But if your job involves repetitive movements that strain your joints or muscles, you should warm up before working, too.
If you’ve been injured already, ask our team here at Functional Health Center if you’re cleared for these exercises. Some suggestions include:
Warm-up your fingers
Place your forearms on a table or your thighs with your palms up. Touch your thumb to each finger on each hand, one at a time. Repeat 20 times.
Warm-up your wrists
Sit with your forearms on your thighs with your palms up. Make light fists. Move your hands in slow circles 20 times. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Stretch your wrist
Straighten one arm in front of you with your palm facing up. With your other hand, grasp the fingers of the extended arm, pulling them back toward your body. Hold for 15 seconds and release. Repeat this movement approximately five times.
2. Strengthen your muscles
Strengthening the muscles and tendons in your arms helps keep them strong enough to withstand the strain of repetitive motions. We can recommend a physical therapist to help you learn how to do weight-bearing exercises safely and effectively.
Don’t do strengthening exercises on the same days that you’re playing sports. Some easy strengthening exercises you can do at home include:
Hold your fingers and thumb on one hand together and surround them with a rubber band. Slowly spread your fingers and thumb open. Then close. Repeat 25 times. Repeat the entire process on your other hand.
Wrist flexor/extensor strengthening
While holding a one-pound weight, put your forearm on a table. Let your wrist hang with your palm facing up. Raise and lower your hand only and bend it at the wrist 10 times.
Hold a rolled-up towel with your arms straight in front of you and your hands at the ends of the towel. Wring the towel by moving your hands in opposite directions. Repeat 10 times. Then wring the towel in reverse approximately 10 more times.
3. Support your elbow with a splint
If you’re recovering from an injury and have been cleared for sports or work, an elbow splint can support your tendons to help prevent them from tearing or straining again. Consider wearing a splint if you know you’re prone to elbow pain or injury.
4. Seek professional advice
Our expert medical team can give you advice on how to perform your most repetitive motions in a way that’s least likely to cause injury. For instance, we can show you how to avoid completely bending or straightening your arm and making your motions more fluid and smooth to lessen the strain on your tendons.
You might also consider hiring a coach or a physical therapist to help you on the courts, fields, or at work. A professional evaluation can help modify your tasks and actions to keep you safe.
5. Cool your body down
Cooling down is just as important to the health of your muscles, tendons, and ligaments as warming up. After work or play, go through your warm-up exercises again to keep your circulation stimulated and to help reduce your risk of injury.
6. Use the RICE technique
If you feel any pain after play or work, be sure to follow the RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Take anti-inflammatory medication if you feel pain or notice any swelling.
If your pain doesn’t lessen within a day or two, reach out to us for an evaluation by calling 786-220-6786 or request an appointment online.