How to Cure Tennis Elbow | STACK Coaches and Trainers

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 33,693,016
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,550,335
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 24,502,353

Featured Videos

James Harden on Becoming a Franchise Player Views: 72,181
Path to the Pros 2015: Devin Smith Views: 28,385
Blake Griffin Interview and Cover Shoot Views: 574,246
Load More


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


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,880,088
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,359,483
Colby Lewis's Four-Seam Fastball Technique
Views: 5,011,383
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 7,789,434
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,880,088

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

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

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

5 Bodyweight Exercises to Prevent Baseball Injuries

6 Simple Tips to Prevent Knee Injuries

Basketball Players: Prevent Ankle Sprains With These 3 Exercises

Sports Hernias: What You Need to Know

The Future of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

How to Train With Running Blisters

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

How to Treat Piriformis Syndrome

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Eliminate Elbow Pain with These 3 Methods

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

Coaches: Prevent Injuries With the Recovery Management Tool

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Muscle Injuries

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

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

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

6 Ways to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

7 Ways to Fix Back Pain

Achilles Tendon Ruptures: Prevention and Recovery

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury

STUDY: Imaginary Exercise Helps You Recover Faster From Injury

10 Ways to Fix Back Pain

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet