Top Tennis Elbow Exercises to Help You Get Back on Court in No Time

Tennis Elbow Exercise: María Sharapova

Top Tennis Elbow Exercises to Help You Get Back on Court in No Time

Our top tennis elbow exercises are non-surgical treatments that you can carry out in the comfort of your own home to relieve symptoms of the medical complaint known as lateral epicondylitis.

What is tennis elbow?

This condition, more commonly known as tennis elbow, is caused by repetitive physical activity and is not just restricted to tennis or racquet sport players. Tradesmen such as carpenters and plumbers may also suffer from inflammation of the same extensor muscles.

The condition can be acute, where it develops immediately after a particular movement. This can be due to poor technique or positioning which may cause a temporary overload on the wrist extensors. This results in small tears in the tendon which can cause instant pain.

In chronic cases, the condition develops over a longer time period (days or weeks) following regular sessions of intensive exercise. This can occur when the player is not used to such levels of activity. For example, a player who has moved from recreational to competitive tennis or one who has just started regular lessons and is unaccustomed to the workload.

Tennis elbow exercises ilustration

Image by BruceBlaus

The symptoms of tennis elbow

If you are suffering from pain or a burning sensation in the elbow region combined with a weakening in your grip, you might be suffering from tennis elbow. The symptoms may be mild at first but are likely to increase over time if you play on a regular basis. If in any doubt, it is always recommended that you seek expert medical advice to assess your condition.

As well as tennis elbow exercises, there are other measures that can be taken to relieve the symptoms. In fact, it is recommended that you take measures to reduce the inflammation before performing further exercises.

Relieving the symptoms of tennis elbow

One of the most obvious things that a player should do is rest. By stopping the activity that is causing the problem, the symptoms should fade and the inflammation should decrease.

Ice may also be applied to the area (within the first 72 hours) to relieve the pain and reduce any swelling but it should not be applied for more than 15 minutes at a time. Following the application of ice, compression aids or braces may also be worn to help reduce inflammation. Elevating the arm followed by further rest will also help to relieve the symptoms.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofenand Naproxen can also be used in the treatment of tennis elbow. However, players with a history of allergic reactionto any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines should avoid products containing these ingredients.

What’s more, such treatments should only be used exactly as described in the instructions (always read before taking) and after taking advice from your doctor.

Elbow inflamed

Once the inflammation has subsided, exercises can be performed but you should always consult with a medical expert first to confirm that you are ready to for physical therapy and to rule out other injuries such as torn muscles or tendons.

At this stage, sports massage may also be considered. It can be an effective treatment for chronic cases of tennis elbow and can even be performed by the patient in their own home.  The basic technique involves using the second finger of the opposite hand to rub gently across the painful tendon for about five minutes once a day. This may cause some discomfort at first but the pain should ease after each session. If the pain does gets worse, do not continue with this treatment.

Other treatments include ultrasound, laser, acupuncture, injections and nitric oxide donor therapy patches. Depending on your case, your medical advisor may recommend one or more of these treatments.

Tennis elbow exercises

Fist clench exercise

One of the most common tennis elbow exercises is a fist clench. This can actually be performed using a tennis ball but if you do not have one handy, a rolled up pair of socks can be used instead.

The idea is to make a fist around the ball and squeeze for five or six seconds. You should then release, count to 10 and repeat. This can be repeated up to 10 times before switching to the other hand (if necessary).

General wrist movement

For this exercise you should sit with your arm on a table but your wrist should hang over the edge. You should hold your hand out flat but vertical as if you are offering a handshake. Now move your hand up and down, pivoting at the wrist around 20 times before switching hands.

Wrist extensions

For this exercise, you should start in a similar position to the last activity with your arm on a table but your hand hanging over the edge. Now, with your palm upwards, you should put a light weight (0.5 – 1 kilo) such as a dumbbell or small bottle of mineral water into your hand.

Now lift the weight using your wrist while keeping your arm on the table and repeat up to 20 times before switching arms. Once you have completed this, you can repeat the exercise but with your palm facing downwards.

These exercises will work the wrist flexors and wrist extensor muscles. These relatively small muscles are attached to the elbow but are used to bend the wrist up and down. Under excessive use, they can cause pain and become inflamed.

Lower arm twists

As a follow up exercise to the wrists extensions, you can hold the weight and rotate the wrist so that the palm moves from an upwards facing to a downwards facing position. This will involve twisting the lower arm. Again, this should be repeated up to 20 times before switching arms.

During this exercises, your elbow and upper arm should not move. Most of the work is done is done by the supinator muscle that connects the forearm to the elbow. The movement of this particular muscle can lead to symptoms of tennis elbow.

Finger extension

Once the pain has decreased significantly, you may introduce some strengthening tennis elbow exercises. The following resistance exercise builds up strength in the affected areas and should not be continued if further pain is felt during or after the activity.

Hold the fingers of your hand together pointing upwards and then place an elastic (rubber) band over them. Open your fingers into a cup shape, stretching the rubber band in the process and repeat up to 20 times.

Back on the court

Once your inflammation has subsided and you no longer feel pain, you may be ready to return to the court. But remember to ease yourself back into the game and build up your strength gradually. You may want to continue with your tennis elbow exercises even after you have started playing again.

If you are serious about playing tennis and want to avoid this type of injury in the future, a professional tennis coach can help to develop your technique. When combined with a well-planned training schedule, this can help to reduce the risk of developing similar injuries in the future.

Young players can also benefit from professional training via tennis camps and academies that offer summer, annual and intensive programs for children aged eight years and over.

For more information about tennis camps for kids, our team of advisors are always on hand to answer your questions and offer honest, expert advice.

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