By Matt Henley – Sport:Away Director & Level 5 Tennis Pro
Beating Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow can be a severe problem for many tennis players of all levels and age groups. It can be very painful and has driven a number of people away from the great game of tennis. To prevent this from happening to you, we’ll give you the run down on what tennis elbow is, how to prevent it, and ways to treat it.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow occurs when a specific tendon of the forearm becomes irritated, inflamed, or damaged. This causes pain on the outer part of the elbow. While tennis players suffer the condition most frequently, anyone who does a lot of lifting or repetition of movement at the elbow is susceptible. Symptoms include:
- Tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, lateral elbow pain extending into the forearm
- Pain during movement of the elbow, especially lifting movements
How Can I Prevent Tennis Elbow?
The best way to prevent tennis elbow is by having good equipment and good form on your strokes, especially your backhand.
“Poor form often causes a player to hit the ball late or off-balance causing your arm to have to do most of the work rather than your torso. This can quickly cause the tendons near your elbow to become overworked and inflamed”.
How Can I Treat Tennis Elbow?
Although we would recommend seeking medical advice with any form of injury, when you start feeling the effects of tennis elbow there are a few changes that can be made to your game which are worth considering:
- Changing to a softer string with a looser tension can be a quick fix for many players. Avoid polyester strings which are notoriously stiffer and will put more tension on your elbow. Ideally natural gut (although a restring will cost in the region of £60) or the cheaper synthetic gut alternative will provide more cushioning when you make contact with the ball, and will absorb more of the tension which would otherwise get directed to your arm.
- Wearing a support on your arm.
- Strengthening and stretching exercises. There are lots of exercises which you can do at home that will help to build strength in your arm, and also alleviate stiffness. Try searching on Youtube for easy tutorials.
- Asking a Tennis Pro about ways you could change your game to help avoid irritation to the elbow. Making changes to your backhand for example, with the aid of a pro, can really make a difference.
- Take a look at your tennis racquet as well. Switching to a lighter racquet with a larger head size could help alleviate the problem. There are specific racquets on the market which are designed with this in mind.
Tennis elbow is treatable and if you have the right tennis equipment and the right instructor you can become an even better player – without the discomfort.