When you hear tennis elbow, you may have visions of Serena Williams or John McEnroe swinging on the court, but the reality is much different. In fact, most instances of tennis elbow appear in people who don’t play tennis. Tennis elbow can strike anyone who repeats the same motions again and again with the arm and wrist such as in golf, construction or painting.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The forearm muscles and tendons become damaged from overuse leading to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.
8 Tips for Prevention
- Work your way up gradually when playing a new sport or starting a job where you will be using your forearm and wrist a lot.
- Always warm up prior to participating in an exercise/sport or before performing a job that will require repetitive motion.
- When not on the job or playing, be sure you are still strengthening your shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand muscles through exercise.
- Take a moment to ensure you are using proper posture and body mechanics before lifting heavy objects.
- Use sports or work equipment that is appropriate for your size, strength and ability. Using equipment that is inappropriately sized will increase the tension on the muscle, which can lead to repetitive strain injuries.
- Maintain proper form and technique when performing repetitive work tasks or sports movements, such as golf and tennis swings. Have a professional analyze your technique to provide feedback on your body mechanics.
- Take frequent rest breaks to prevent repetitive strain on the forearm and wrist muscles.
- Perform gentle forearm muscle stretches before and after performing workouts such as in the illustration below.
When to Call a Doctor
If you have pain that persists for two or more weeks or your symptoms are inferring with your work or everyday activities you should see a doctor to discuss possible treatments. And if you do need therapy you can count on the expertise of Roper St. Francis Rehabilitation Services.