Physical Therapy Techniques for Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow Exercises

Tennis elbow is a condition that affects sportsman and other individuals more often than tennis players. Tennis elbow is a long-lasting condition and hence the prognosis depends on early measures of rehabilitation comprising of rest and exercises.

Tennis Elbow Exercises Tennis elbow also known as ‘lateral epicondylitis’ is a stress injury with symptoms of pain and swelling at the lateral side of the elbow. Tenderness is elicited at the elbow laterally near the insertion of ‘extensor tendon’. It affects golfers, bowlers, racquet players, gardeners, carpenters, housekeepers, industrial workers and in those where the occupation demands repeated activities of hands and forearm.

Resting the forearm, applying icepacks and administering proper painkillers helps treat acute cases of tennis elbow with severe pain. This aids in quick healing of the micro tears in the tendons and muscles of the elbow. Physiotherapy and exercises contribute to strengthen and improve movements of the muscles of forearm.

Tennis Elbow Exercises
Tennis elbow exercises recover the flexibility and strength of muscles of forearm and wrists. These exercises also ensure proper blood circulation to the injured part and promote healing. The intensity of exercises should be increased gradually and avoid doing the ones that are painful. Exercises for lateral epicondylitis consists of stretching and strengthening exercises at the wrist, elbow and forearm.

Ball Squeezing Exercise
This exercise builds up the muscle power and durability to further withstand weight exercises. Hold a soft squeeze ball in your hand for a few seconds and release. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times twice a day.

Stretching Exercises for Tennis Elbow
Warming up of wrist joint and elbow joint is necessary before exercising the muscles. The normal range of movement at the wrist consists of palmar flexion, extension and lateral deviations. The range of motions at the elbow consists of flexion and then straightening of the elbow. These movements should be practiced 2-3 times in sets of 10.

Another stretching exercise is pronation and supination of the forearm. It is done by rotation of the palms downwards and upwards respectively without bending the wrist.

Strengthening Exercises for Tennis Elbow

  • Rest the forearm with wrist and palm facing downwards at the edge of a table. Hold a weight of around 400-500 g in the hand and bend the wrist downwards and then straighten it. Repeat the exercise for 2 minutes until the wrists are worked sufficiently.
  • Rest the forearm with wrist and palm facing upwards from the edge of the table. Hold the weight in the hand, flex the wrists and then lower it down.
  • Stand upright with the arms held out. Hold a stick in your hand and attach weights to it with a rope that reaches the ground. Roll the rope around the stick completely with the rotational movements at the wrist. Unroll the rope again so that it touches the ground.
  • The same exercise should be repeated with palm facing downwards and upwards. This helps in strengthening the wrist flexor pronators as well as extensors respectively.
  • Practice pronation and supination with appropriate weights or dumbbells. Another exercise is to place the wrist on a table with thumb facing upwards. Hold a hammer in hand and raise the wrist so that the thumb is pointing towards the ceiling. Straighten the wrist and repeat the exercise for 2 minutes. Same method can be followed while moving the wrist outwards towards the little finger.

In all the above weight exercises increase the weight gradually as the movements become easier without increasing the frequency of exercise. Initial weight can be 400 g and the duration around 120-160 seconds. The sets should be repeated after a resting period of 1-2 minutes.

These exercises help in improving the joint flexibility of wrist and elbow in all directions. Sports persons should consult a physiotherapist for overall strength training to avoid undue strain on body parts that are overused. Immediate treatment and physical therapy would prevent further episodes of tennis elbow. Recovery would depend upon age, general fitness level and the extent of injury.


By Dr. Meenaz M
Published: 5/30/2008

StumbleUpon It!

Technorati Tags: , , ,