Tennis elbow can be prevented by taking a series of simple precautions, especially when playing racquet sports:
What is tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a joint disease that affects the tendons of the elbow. These tendons become inflamed as a result of microfibrillary tears in the muscle, caused by repetitive movements of extension of the wrist and supination of the forearm – the rotation necessary to turn the palm of the hand upwards.
Normally, the overexertion that causes these micro-tears in the extensor muscles of the forearm occurs during the practice of racquet sports such as tennis, but also due to repeated movements or excessive efforts of strong grip or rotation of the forearm. For this reason, it can affect the entire population, not just athletes, and in fact, it is a relatively common occupational disease in some professions.
The pain may appear locally in the elbow bone or radiate to the muscles of the forearm and occasionally to the wrist. It can also affect the extensor muscles of the hand and fingers, and can lead to very disabling situations – for example, not being able to drive or open a door – and even limit daily life. Normally, it affects the dominant arm: the right in the right-handed and the left in the left-handed.
Here are 10 tips from the experts to prevent tennis elbow
- Monitor your sports equipment
- Correct your technique
- Warm-up before playing and stretch afterward
- Regulate your activity time
- Learn to stop
- Strengthen your arm
- Attention also in the office
- Help yourself with technology
- Warm-up before taking the motorcycle
- Consult your doctor about the use of elbow pads
1. Monitor your sports equipment.
If you usually play tennis, you should know that a racket that is too wide or narrow, or balls that are too heavy can be, for example, the culprits of your epicondylitis. Make sure, therefore, that you choose the most suitable material for you and your sport.
2. Correct your technique.
It is also recommended that you consult your coach or sports doctor about any changes that you can incorporate in your technique to avoid overexertion in the tendons. A poorly executed backhand is usually one of the main causes of lateral epicondylitis, but also, for example, excess force on the racquet grip.
3. Warm up before playing and stretch afterwards.
The muscles and tendons must be prepared for the effort they are going to put in, so it is crucial to warm them up well before the game with the proper warm-up exercises.
4. Regulate your activity time.
Sometimes it is about measuring the time we spend playing or doing a repetitive activity. Consider whether you should reduce the frequency or in the case of a sport, lengthen the rest periods between games.
5. Learn to stop.
If you notice any pain in your elbow or forearm, immediately stop the activity you think is causing it. Consult your doctor at the first symptoms and do not practice that sport or activity again until he tells you to.
6. Strengthen your arm.
Your doctor or physical therapist can teach you exercises that will help stretch and strengthen the muscles in your wrist and arm, allowing you to stabilize the elbow area and reduce the chances of injury. One of them is, for example, squeezing a tennis ball.
7. Attention also in the office.
If you feel pain when working in front of the computer, it is convenient that you review the ergonomics of your workstation or study (arrangement of the chair, keyboard and desk), as well as the posture with which you sit and write.
8. Help yourself with technology.
If, in your case, it is certain work activities that cause the pain, try to use power tools for very repetitive activities – for example, screwing – and rest after long periods of activity.
9. Warm up before taking the motorcycle.
A motorcycle route forces the muscles to adapt and maintain certain positions that can lead to injuries such as tennis elbow. To avoid this, especially before long routes, spend a few minutes warming up and stretching your arm muscles before setting off. Repeat these exercises for the stops you make.
10. Consult your doctor about the use of elbow pads.
Wearing a band or elbow brace when performing the activity that causes pain can help alleviate or prevent injury, as these solutions increase the temperature of the area by two or three degrees, which stimulates circulation and contributes to relaxing muscles, tendons, and ligaments.