How Tennis Elbow Occurs and How To Prevent It
For people who play tennis frequently, an injury that they are familiar and careful of is the Tennis Elbow. Known in medical terms as lateral epicondylitis, this injury mainly occurs when a certain tendon along the humerus bone is irritated, damaged, or inflamed. Affecting not only tennis players but also those who play other sports, tennis elbow causes a searing pain just along the outer side of your elbow, even spreading into one's forearm down to the wrist. Due to the facts that the pain caused by tennis elbow disappears the next day, many assume that the problem is not serious. However, the searing pain will once again return, once stress and pressure is again applied on the elbow, signifying its seriousness.
The main cause of tennis elbow is the overuse of the muscles in the forearm when repeatedly raising the wrists and the hand. The movement creates small tears along the tendons that attach the bone outside of your elbow to the forearm. For tennis players, this injury is a sign of poor techniques and the continued use of the backhand stroke. However, for non-tennis players, the tennis elbow can also be caused by typical everyday work like weaving, raking, painting, hammering, and using a screwdriver. This is more often seen in people who are about 30 - 60 years old, yet it can also be seen in younger ones who often stress out their wrists. The people who often have tennis elbow listed as a hazard in their occupation are musicians, dentists, gardeners, and carpenters.
You will know that you have tennis elbow when you feel certain pain radiating from the outer part of your elbow out to your forearm and your wrist. There is also pain when the outer part of your elbow is touched, bumped, and when you attempt to extend out your wrist. Another sign can be seen during play, is where you find yourself having a relatively weak and painful grip that can even extend when doing other things like opening doors and shaking hands.
Prevent Tennis Elbow With These Steps
Have a professional tennis instructor review your tennis playing technique to check if you are using the correct motions. Remember that in swinging the racket, make sure that you get your whole arm and your body to move, instead of just letting the wrists work. During ball contact, make sure that your wrist remains rigid to prevent any injuries. Check your tennis racket to be certain that you have the right string tension and grip size fit for you, and do not forget to lower the tension of the string to 55 pounds so there is less force transmitted to your elbow.
Build the strength of your wrists by making sure that your exercise regimen includes strengthening exercises by extending and flexing your wrists with a hand weight. By stretching out your wrists and letting the weight go down slowly, you will build the strength that will help your tissues absorb the force without taking in the strain.
When playing tennis or doing other strenuous activities, make sure to keep your wrists straight and rigid. Instead of letting the forearm muscles absorb all the impact, let the larger and more powerful upper arm muscles take it in and do the dirty work.
As with all kinds of sports, never forget to do proper warm-up exercises before a game by stretching gently your forearm muscles and wrists before and even after a match. Remember that if the body is conditioned, it will be easier for it to distribute the force and the weight of an incoming ball, thereby lessening the chances of an injury.
To relieve the stress that is building up in your forearm, use ice above the heated area and leave it there for a while until the muscles cool down. Or you can use an ice massage by filling up a plastic cup with some water to freeze, then roll it directly onto the heated area outside the elbow for around five minutes.
For immediate treatment of tennis elbow, take some rest and pain relievers. However, if the pain still persists, see a doctor immediately. Depending on the kind of damage, the doctor may just prescribe rest and a different kind of exercise to help strengthen your muscles. See your trainer and ask for assistance in changing your playing technique into a moderate one that will reduce the stress on your injured muscles. Should there be pain, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroid medication, injecting this into your elbow to alleviate the pain. In extreme cases, surgery is often the only way of treating tennis elbow, and a rehabilitation program follows this.