Tennis elbow is a condition that affects sportsman and other individuals more often than tennis players. It is a long-lasting condition. So, the prognosis depends on the early measures of rehabilitation comprising rest and exercises. Here are some exercises that might prove beneficial.
Tennis elbow, also known as 'lateral epicondylitis', is a stress injury which is characterized by pain and swelling at the lateral side of the elbow. Tenderness is elicited at the elbow laterally near the insertion of 'extensor tendon'.
It affects golfers, bowlers, racquet players, gardeners, carpenters, housekeepers, industrial workers, and also, those whose occupation demands repeated activities of hands and forearm.
Resting the forearm, applying ice packs, and administering proper painkillers helps treat acute cases of tennis elbow with severe pain. This aids in quick healing of the micro-tears in the tendons and muscles of the elbow. Physiotherapy and exercises contribute to strengthen and improve movements of the muscles of the forearm.
Tennis elbow exercises recover the flexibility and strength of forearm muscles and the wrists, ensure proper blood circulation to the injured part and promote healing. Increase their intensity gradually and avoid doing the painful ones. Exercises for lateral epicondylitis consists of stretching and strengthening exercises at the wrist, elbow, and forearm.
Ball Squeezing Exercise
It builds up the muscle power and durability to further withstand weight exercises. Hold a soft squeeze ball in your hand for a few seconds and release. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times twice a day.
Some Stretching Exercises
Warming up of wrist joint and elbow joint is necessary before exercising the muscles. The normal range of movement at the wrist consists of palmar flexion, extension, and lateral deviations.
The range of motions at the elbow consists of flexion and then straightening of the elbow. These movements should be practiced 2-3 times in sets of 10.
Another stretching exercise is pronation and supination of the forearm. It is done by the rotation of the palms downwards and upwards respectively without bending the wrist.
Some Strengthening Exercises
Rest the forearm with the wrist and palm facing downwards at the edge of a table. Hold a weight of around 400-500 g in the hand and bend the wrist downwards and then straighten it. Repeat the exercise for 2 minutes until the wrists are worked sufficiently.
Rest the forearm with wrist and palm facing upwards from the edge of the table. Hold the weight in the hand, flex the wrists, and then lower it down.
Stand upright with the arms held out. Hold a stick in your hand and attach weights to it with a rope that reaches the ground. Roll the rope around the stick completely with the rotational movements at the wrist. Unroll the rope again so that it touches the ground.
The same exercise should be repeated with palm facing downwards and upwards. This helps in strengthening the wrist flexor pronators as well as extensors respectively.
Practice pronation and supination with appropriate weights/dumbbells. Another exercise is to place the wrist on a table with thumb facing upwards. Hold a hammer and raise the wrist so that the thumb points towards the ceiling. Straighten the wrist and repeat for 2 minutes. Follow the same method while moving the wrist outwards towards the little finger.
In all the these weight exercises, increase the weight gradually as the movements become easier without increasing the frequency of exercise. Initial weight can be 400 g and the duration around 120-160 seconds. The sets should be repeated after a resting period of 1-2 minutes.
These exercises help in improving the joint flexibility of the wrist and the elbow in all directions. Sportspersons should consult a physiotherapist for overall strength training to avoid undue strain on the body parts that are overused.
Immediate treatment and physical therapy would prevent further episodes of tennis elbow. Recovery would depend upon one's age, general fitness level, and the extent of injury.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only. Always consult a physician before starting any physical fitness program in order to reduce the risk of injury.