Tennis elbow is inflammation of the tendons in the elbow caused by overuse of muscles in the forearm. I recently overcame my first battle with tennis elbow, and it was by far the worst and most difficult injury I've ever had to try and figure out.
I had to correct my biomechanics, especially on my backhand. I was placing excessive stress on the extensor tendons of my forearm with each swing, eventually leading to an overuse injury of a kind that is painful and debilitating if left untreated.
Tennis elbow can be very frustrating because it can be quite stubborn. Those who rely on a brace and anti-inflammatory medication often find that the pain simply will not go away. I fell into this group until I started using self-myofascial release, more commonly known as foam rolling.
I found great success with the Trigger Point Performance Therapy X-Factor Ball. It's harder than a tennis ball so you can apply more pressure to your muscles and connective tissue, yet it is small enough to allow you to focus on the small muscles of the forearm and upper back. (See How Mark Herzlich Regained His Form With Trigger Point Performance Therapy.)
I suggest starting out by placing the ball under your scapula. Wherever you feel pain, apply pressure with the ball to break up knots in the tissue. This can be extremely painful, but it will result in the release of the knots and a healing of the muscles.
Similarly, in the forearm and elbow, use the same process to find knots and run the ball over the area until the pain begins to subside. Again, this may be painful but it will help if you stick with it.
If you are starting the healing process, give yourself a day to recover from the self-massage session. Your muscles may be in shock, and you don't want to further impede your biomechanics. However, this should eventually become a regular part of your routine. After a long match or practice session, take some time to roll your trouble areas as part of a cooldown. Regular maintenance will pay off in the end.
Check out these other tennis elbow relief techniques
- 3 Ways to Prevent Tennis Elbow
- Treating Tennis Elbow: Pain Relief Techniques
- How to Cure Tennis Elbow
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