Here are some examples of exercises that the physiotherapists may suggest to help prevent or improve tennis elbow.
Be sure to contact a physiotherapist or doctor before undertaking any exercise activities to ensure appropriate activities for your condition or level of activity.
This is a type of exercise wherein the muscle is lengthening against a load, and has been shown to increase muscle strength and reduces pain in tendinopathy. It involves using a light dumbbell, water bottle, or can of food, sitting in a chair that has an armrest, and resting the forearm on the armrest while holding the weight with the palm faced down. Lift the wrist up and then slowly return it to the resting position. Try this exercise 3 to 4 times per week, 3 sets of 10 reps (or to forearm fatigue), for at least 6 weeks. These must be done pain free.
Similarly, this exercise involves holding a dumbbell or a can of food, sitting in a chair and placing the forearm flat on the thigh with the hand holding the weight facing upward. Let the wrist bend backward slowly and then bend the wrist upward again. Repeat this movement 10 times and perform it 3 times, every other day for at least 6 weeks.
These stretches improve blood flow to the injured region, which boosts healing. They entail holding out the affected arm, parallel to the floor and bending the wrist up or down with the elbow straight and applying a gentle pull to the bent wrist and hand to stretch the forearm. Hold these stretches for 30 seconds, and repeat them 2-3 times per day, particularly if you work at a computer or are very active in sport.
This stretch helps improve recovery by decreasing mobility problems and stiffness that may develop while resting the elbow. It entails bending the arm backward, behind the back, while mimicking scratching the back. Use the unaffected arm to gently press the elbow backward until non-painful stretching is felt. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and perform it 3 times, every other day.
Brian Empey, BPE, DipSIM, CAT(C), BHScPT, RCAMT, is a Certified Athletic Therapist and Registered Physiotherapist at Be In Motion Physical Therapy in Oakville, ON. Brian is a graduate of Sheridan College's Sports Injury Management Program in 1996 and McMaster University's Physiotherapy Program in 2000.
He has worked in professional sports with the Hamilton Tiger Cats and New York Islanders. Learn more at www.beinmotion.ca.