Tennis elbow is a common term for lateral epicondylitis, which is a repetitive injury to the elbow area. While it is termed tennis elbow, playing tennis is not only the source of the injury. People who engage in repetitive and vigorous use of the forearm may actually suffer from tennis elbow as well. This includes workers who lift heavy weight regularly, chefs, butchers and other jobs requiring the repetitive use of the forearm.
Tennis elbow can be a disabling condition since the pain may limit the motion of the elbow joint. More often than not, the pain may also radiate to the wrist and fingers causing further limitation in arm movement. If you are employing activities that utilize the forearm in a repetitive motion, preventing tennis elbow is necessary to avoid injury as well as preserve the functioning of the arm. So how do we prevent it? Here are some of the techniques that you can employ to prevent lateral epicondylitis:
Warm up and cool down in each exercise or sport
Whether you are an athlete or a worker, warm up and cool down activities are essential to make the elbows adapt to stress. There are various stretches that you can employ that involves the forearm, elbow and wrists including:
• Forearm flexor stretch- This is done by extending the forearm forward with the elbows straight and the palms facing the ground. Using the right hand, pull the fingers of the other hand towards your body so that the wrist is flexed. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat on the other arm.
• Forearm extensor stretch- This stretch is done just like the forearm flexor stretch only that the palms are facing upwards. Using the right hand, pull the fingers of the left and downwards so that the palms are facing away from you. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat on the other hand.
After every activity, you can use a massage stick to massage your forearm. Roll the stick gently over the forearm concentrating on the outer edges.
Use correct hitting technique when playing
If you are into sports like tennis, you should ensure that you employ the correct hitting method and body mechanics so that the forearm is not over stressed.
Exercise with a Stress Ball
When you are resting, you can also work with a stress ball to strengthen and increase the flexibility of your arm muscles. When your grip is improved, it is more likely that you are able to hit or work appropriately with your hands reducing the stress in your forearm.
Employ Strengthening Exercises
Aside from stretches, you should also aim at strengthening the muscles in the forearm so it may relieve more tension without developing overuse injuries. You can lift dumbbells starting with 200 grams and gradually increasing it based on your adaptation.
If you are particularly playing tennis, you may also study your routine and hitting techniques and work at improving your grip, hit and stance to avoid repetitive injury in the elbows and forearm.