10 Tips for Preventing Tennis Elbow

Whether it’s from playing tennis or golf, or your job as a painter or carpenter, if you’ve experienced the pain and burning that comes with tennis elbow — also known as lateral epicondylitis — you might want to prevent another occurrence. Tennis elbow results from a tear in the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle or tendon found in your forearm near your elbow, and it can take a long time to heal.

We’d like to give you some tips on how to prevent the injury to keep you in the game or on the job.

Reduce repetition

If you can, limit the repetition of movement with your arm. If you’re involved in a sport that uses a lot of arm movement, consider cross-training with another sport that focuses on the legs. If it’s your job that has the repetitive movement, ask your boss if you can switch positions for part of the day.

Stretch and warm up your muscles

If you have issues with your arm muscles, make sure they’re properly warmed up and stretched before starting an activity. This is especially important if you’re an athlete. Your muscles are more prone to stress if you don’t warm up. We can teach you proper warm-up exercises and stretches to keep your arms limber and ready to go. 

Strengthen your muscles

Improving the strength of your arm and hand muscles may help protect you from tennis elbow. Use hand resistance bands to work out the muscles in your hand to improve grip and strength. For your forearms, try dumbbell wrist extensions and flexions. Use a lightweight at first and build up to heavier ones, if desired. We can teach you exercise techniques that fit your specific fitness and health needs.

Use the right tools

Whether your elbow pain is due to a sport or work activity, make sure you’re using the right tools. If you’re a tennis player, you need a good hand grip and a tennis racket that’s the right weight. If you’re doing construction work, wear gloves or add padding to tool handles to improve your grip and reduce vibration. If you’re a butcher, make sure your knife is sharp and the handle comfortable for your grip. 

Straighten the wrists

Keeping your wrist straight adds a little more protection to the muscles in your forearm by utilizing your upper arm muscles to take some of the stress.

Consult with a trainer or specialist

Learning the proper technique for specific movements can go a long way in preventing an injury. If you’re playing a sport, consult with a trainer to teach you how to properly hold the tennis racket or golf club and how to swing for the strongest hit that causes the least amount of stress.

If it’s your job causing elbow issues, we can refer you to an occupational therapist who specializes in teaching proper body mechanics to reduce elbow stress and injury.

Add support

If you’re having a hard time getting the proper body mechanics down to protect your elbow, you may want to invest in an elbow brace or wrist brace. Braces add support and may help improve function. 

Use proper lifting techniques

When lifting heavy objects, you may not give your arms much thought, thinking more about protecting your back or knees. But your arms and elbows may incur damage, too, if you’re not lifting properly. To prevent tennis elbow when lifting, bend down at the knees, grab the item and bring it close to your chest, then lift with your legs. This technique also protects your back. We can go over proper lifting at the office to keep you safe and injury free.

If it hurts, stop

It may sound like common sense, but if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort in your elbow, forearm, or wrist -- or any other part of your body for that matter -- stop the activity. Your body is telling you that you took it too far, and it needs a break. Continuing to use your elbow if it’s inflamed or injured will only make it worse. 

Give your elbow a break

Rest isn’t overrated. If you want to get stronger and better at whatever it is that you do, you need to give your arm and elbow muscles time to heal and rebuild. To reduce inflammation and pain, ice your elbow as needed.

If you’re experiencing elbow pain or have had tennis elbow in the past, we can help. Call one of our Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists offices or book an appointment online today.

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