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Gentle Exercises for Tennis Elbow

Are you experiencing pain on the outside of your elbow that may radiate into your forearm and wrist? Do you have trouble gripping objects or turning a doorknob? You may have tennis elbow.

Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis) causes pain in the elbow area after the tendons where the forearm muscles attach to the bony part of the elbow become overused. This typically occurs following repetitive motions of the wrist and arm, such as in tennis. However, you don’t have to be a tennis player to get tennis elbow.

Tennis elbow can affect non-athletes and people who repeatedly use their wrist and forearm. Plumbers, painters, carpenters, butchers, and even computer workers can get tennis elbow. 

If you think you may have tennis elbow, read on to learn some exercises to help strengthen the muscles and reduce the symptoms.

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a type of tendinitis, which is a swelling of the tendons. The tendons involved are the tough tissues that connect the muscles of the lower arm to the bone of the elbow. The constant irritation may extend beyond swelling and result in microscopic tears in the tissue.

This condition causes pain in the elbow and arm and is the result of repetitive motions in the arm and wrist. Any repetitive gripping activities may result in tennis elbow, not just playing tennis. This is especially true for actions that involve using the thumb and first two fingers repeatedly.

Tennis elbow is the most common diagnosis for elbow pain. It occurs at any age, but is most common in 40-year-olds. It can result from a variety of repetitive activities, including the following sports, jobs, and hobbies:

  • Tennis

  • Racquetball

  • Fencing

  • Weight lifting

  • Carpentry

  • Typing

  • Computer mouse use

  • Painting

  • Raking

  • Knitting

These are only some of the activities which may contribute to tennis elbow. Any repetitive arm motion in your work or home life could result in tennis elbow.

Should I Exercise My Tennis Elbow?

In most cases, self-care can help heal tennis elbow on its own, without the need for more drastic measures, such as surgery. Try these simple at-home treatments:

  • Rest: Avoid any activities which cause pain to your elbow.

  • Ice: Apply a cold pack for fifteen minutes three to four times daily.

  • Technique: Avoid repetitive wrist motions and ensure that you are using the proper technique for your activities.

  • Exercise: Try simple stretches and exercises to help strengthen your elbow and begin your way back to recovery. 

What Exercise Is Best For Tennis Elbow? 

There are numerous exercises that can help you work to restore health to your elbow after a tennis elbow diagnosis. Get your doctor’s or chiropractor’s approval prior to beginning any exercise program and don’t continue to work through any pain. 

Wrist Flexor

This exercise will stretch your forearm muscles from your elbow to your wrist. 

Begin by straightening the affected arm in front of you. Your hand should be facing up. Use your other hand to gently pull the hand on the affected arm. The stretch should move the fingers toward the floor, keeping the arm straight. 

Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and then release. Repeat two to four times and then switch to the other arm. 

To see a video of this exercise, click here:

Wrist Extensor

This exercise will continue to stretch your forearm muscles.

Begin by stretching the affected arm in front of you, this time with your palm facing down. Use your unaffected hand to push the hand down, with the fingers pointing toward the floor. Keep the arm straight throughout the stretch.

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times before switching arms.

View this exercise here:


Ball Grip Exercise

For this exercise, you’ll need an object to squeeze, such as a stress ball, tennis ball, or even a ball of socks.

Hold the object in your hand and wrap your fingers around it, making a fist. Squeeze the object for six seconds and then release. Rest for ten seconds. Repeat ten times before switching to your other hand.

See how to do this exercise here:

Wrist Curls

For this exercise, you’ll need a weight. If you don’t have a small dumbbell, a full water bottle or a can of food can be used instead.

Hold the weight in your hand and place your forearm on your leg or on a table with your hand hanging off the edge. Your palm should be facing up. Lift the object using your wrist. Leave your forearm flat on the surface. Do this exercise ten times, then repeat with your palm facing down. Switch arms and repeat.

To learn how to do this exercise, watch this video:


How Chiropractic Treatment Can Help with Tennis Elbow

As you seek out treatment for your tennis elbow, seeing your chiropractor is a good decision which will help support your body in healing. 

During your initial exam, your chiropractor may press on the elbow and ask you to move your elbow, wrist, and fingers in different ways. In most cases, this along with some lifestyle questions and medical history may be enough for a diagnosis. 

Your chiropractic practitioner will use gentle adjustments of the spine, neck, and extremities to realign your body and decrease pressure. Chiropractic manipulations can restore proper function to your body and speed the healing process. The main result of these adjustments is to relieve the build-up of pressure that can cause the irritation of tennis elbow. 

You can expect a personalized treatment from your chiropractor so that your particular needs are met. Along with the above exercises, your chiropractor may be able to provide additional stretches and exercises that can help reduce your pain and restore arm strength. 

Take the first steps in seeing improvements in your condition. Tennis elbow doesn’t have to hold you back. Schedule an appointment online or call us today.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

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