It’s not just tennis players that want to stop elbow tendonitis. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, affects up to 3% of the population and up to 50% of tennis players according to the Cleveland Clinic. Tennis elbow is when you have pain on the outside knot of the elbow and is very painful when you grip anything.
How Did this Happen?
You do not have to play tennis to get tennis elbow, although it does seem to happen to more tennis players than not. Tennis elbow is caused by gripping anything too hard like a racquet, hammer, bat, even a steering wheel if you are nervous when you drive. It can be painful to shake someone’s hand
The forearm to the tips of your fingers consist of 26 muscles that control your hand. Make a fist and release. Each time you do, look at how much the forearm moves. There are 5 muscles that run from the outside knot, epicondyle, on your elbow to the tips of your fingers and they allow your hands to open. On the inside of the forearm are 5 muscles that run from the inside knot of the elbow to the tips of your fingers and they allow the hands to close. When you grip too tightly on anything, the outside set of muscles overwork and pulls from the outside knot causing micro-tears at that point which causes pain. Tennis players hurt this in 2 ways, over-gripping and backhand shots.
What Treatments Stop Elbow Tendonitis
Typically, tennis elbow is treated with rest, painkillers, braces for the wrist or elbow, and even injections of cortisone. These are all temporary fixes as the problem has not been eliminated. All of these reduce inflammation which is not the cause, but the result of the micro-tears mentioned earlier.
Using temporary treatments to stop elbow tendonitis may stop the pain for now, but the damage to the elbow will persists. When you think about the anatomy of the lower arm attaching to the upper arm, keep in mind there are 2 bones in the lower that allow you to rotate your wrist. While the cause of elbow tendonitis is more about gripping too hard, these hard muscles can place enormous torque on the elbow joint making it difficult to turn your hand and eventually cause wrist pain. The wrist is made up of 5 bones that need to be lubricated. If rotation is difficult rotation may be painful and many believe they have arthritis, which they don’t.
You can actually reduce the pain in about 30 minutes on your own. Better yet, you can prevent it from happening again once you know how to solve it. Every person I have ever worked on with tennis elbow, their forearms were rock hard. We have all been led to believe that the harder our muscles, the stronger we are. The truth is, the harder the muscles, the more stiff you are. This can lead to joint damage and mimic arthritis in the joints and spine.
How to Get my Arm Working Correctly?
Feel your forearm. Is it hard, soft, or you haven’t felt in so long, if ever, so you have no idea how it is suppose to feel. Mostly what you are feeling that is hard are muscles. You do have 2 bones in the forearm, but they are thin and that is why they are so easy to break if you fall down the wrong way. Start with the boney know on the outside of the elbow. Now come down in a straight line towards your wrist, pressing gently along the way. Feel how hard it is and there should no pain. If you are pressing on something that is hard and there is pain, congratulations, you are feeling a hard muscle. Once you feel the pain, stay on that spot, maintain the pressure, breathe out and allow the muscle to relax. The temptation is to press really hard so you can push it out, but that will only make it worse and your hand will fatigue, causing problems there too. That is why most deep tissue massage therapist have a shorten career. They make the same mistake too.
Once you have softened the entire forearm we can move onto the stretches. I would suggest massaging your forearms this way throughout your day. Think you don’t have time? Do it at a stoplight while it is red, on the phone talking business, or while you are talking to friends or family. it doesn’t take a lot of concentration, just feeling it. I have worked on mine while speaking on stage. What was funny, someone in the audience said he didn’t have the time to do it. So I brought his attention to what I was doing, because I didn’t have the time either.
Below are 2 stretches for the forearms, one for the top side and the other for the bottom side. While there are many stretches for the wrist and fingers, these 2 are the best ones to get you started.
Stretching the forearms is important for pain relief, but also improving your grip. Did you know that tight forearms can contribute to your grip getting worse, especially as you age? Too many times when someone complains of a weak grip, the professional wants to improve their hand strength. Sometimes that is the correct call, however, if the 5 muscles on the outside of the forearm are tight, it can make the 5 muscles on the inside overwork. Let me explain. ON the inside knot of the elbow there 5 muscles that attach there and run down the arm, through the carpal tunnel, and out to the tips of the fingers that allow you to grip things. On the outside knot of the elbow, there are 5 muscles there that run down the arm to the tips of the fingers that allow you to let go. If the outside ones are tight, the inside ones must overwork to hold onto anything in your hand. Your hand feels weak, but it may be just stiff. Some blame it on lack of strength, others on arthritis, and still others on old age. The truth is you are just rusted up!
Live Life with a Strong Grip!
Once you have stretched out your forearms and hands, then still feel weak, now improve your strength. Don’t forget though, that when you are building strength, you must stretch daily to prevent stiffness or worse yet an injury. Stretching lubricates the joints, discs, improves posture, and prevents injuries. It is a daily thing like how your pet stretches every day. In fact, let your pet remind you to stretch. if you stretch as much as they do, you will soon be more flexible.
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About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop Founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.