How to Cure Tennis Elbow | STACK Coaches and Trainers
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Cure Tennis Elbow

April 30, 2012 | Featured in the Back to School 2012 Issue

Must See Tennis Videos

Tennis, a popular year-round game, is currently in season and is being played on high school and college courts around the country. But increased play brings increased risk for injury. Perhaps the most common tennis injury this time of year is aptly named "tennis elbow"—medically termed lateral epicondylitis.

The condition is usually caused by the constant pronation (internal rotation that occurs during tennis serves and returns) and supination (external rotation that occurs during backhand returns) of the forearm. This causes chronic inflammation on the outer side of the elbow, with pain that may radiate down the forearm and wrist.

An off-season weight training program and an in-season maintenance program can go a long way in preventing tennis elbow, but your season is already in full swing. So, if this injury is affecting you, use the following tips to alleviate tennis elbow pain.

Ice
At the first sign of pain or tenderness around the outside of the elbow, immediately apply ice to the area. Keep the elbow elevated above your heart and ice it for 10 to 15 minutes, on and off about five times during the first 48 hours, to reduce inflammation and swelling.

Rest
During the first 48 hours, rest the elbow. Do not stress it further by working through the pain. This could worsen the inflammation and delay healing. However, you don't have to rest the other parts of your body. Continue staying in tennis shape by jogging and strength training your lower body. You can even strengthen the uninjured arm muscles by squeezing a tennis ball several times or performing Dumbbell Wrist Curls and Extensions. Active rest during injury rehabilitation may accelerate healing, since those pain-erasing, feel-good endorphins are released through exercise.

Apply Moist Heat
After treating the injury with ice during the first 48 hours, switch to moist heat applications. Mix a half cup of Epsom salts in a large bowl of warm water. Dip a towel in the mixture and apply it around your elbow for about 10 minutes. Repeat twice more later in the day. The moist heat from the Epsom salt treatments not only reduces inflammation, it brings blood to the area to promote healing.

Nutrition
Don't overlook nutrition's role in healing. Dehydration and unhealthy eating habits can delay the healing process. Your best bet is to consume anti-inflammatory foods, which naturally reduce inflammation and swelling. Choose foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, nuts or dark chocolate. Also, stay hydrated to ensure your muscles can recover well.

Stretching and Massage
After inflammation and tenderness subside, gently stretch the forearm muscles around the elbow. Hold your arm down at your side and externally rotate it, turning your thumb away from your body. Hold for 10 seconds. Then internally rotate your arm, turning your thumb toward your body, and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three or four times. Afterward, gently massage the area around the outside of the elbow for 30 seconds to stimulate blood flow.

Strengthening
Try squeezing a tennis ball—but only if there's no pain. Perform three sets of five squeezes. Then make a fist and do Wrist Curls and Extensions with no weight for three sets of five reps each. If you have no pain, try performing the exercises with a light object, such as a rolled-up magazine; then progress to using slightly heavier resistance, like a three-pound dumbbell.

Test Your Elbow
Wear a tennis elbow brace and practice strokes without a ball. If you have lingering pain, continue applying heat, stretching and strengthening. After two or three more days, retest the elbow. If you don't experience pain, you are ready to get back on the court.

Photo:  skysports.com

Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness director at the Greater Morristown YMCA in Cedar Knolls, N.J.

Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Must See
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,218,941
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 2,856,622
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,545,261

Featured Videos

James Harden Core Circuit Views: 112,558
Path to the Pros 2015: Danny Shelton Views: 152,673
Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 543,285
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

Tiger Woods back injury has proven he is no longer himself. From withdrawing from the Bridgestone Invitational to missing the cut at the PGA...

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

How to Train With Running Blisters

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises