44. Put Your Tennis Elbow on Ice

If you’re a tennis player with a hard, single-handed backhand shot, you can end up with a painful condition known as tennis elbow. Pain originates in the outer portion of the elbow and works its way down the forearm. Tennis players who are new to the game or use their forearms instead of the force of their whole bodies to swing the racket are most vulnerable. A backhand stroke strains the elbow more than a forehand shot.

Other factors that contribute to the problem include:

  1. Using a racket that’s too heavy.

  2. Using a racket that’s too tightly strung.

  3. Using played out, deflated balls.

  4. Using improper grip.

  5. Trying to put spin on the ball with improper wrist action.

  6. Using a one-handed backhand shot instead of assisting with your other hand.

Continuing to use the arm aggravates the situation. Even several weeks of rest won’t prevent repeat episodes. The best game plan is to rest, then strengthen your forearm muscles and get coaching to improve your skill level.

To relieve tennis elbow pain:

  1. Apply ice for the first two or three days.

  2. Take aspirin (if there are no medical reasons not to).

If you still have pain after three weeks, see a doctor. You may need a cortisone shot in the elbow or an X-ray to make sure nothing is seriously wrong.

To prevent repeat bouts of tennis elbow:

  1. Wait until the pain is gone and your grip strength is normal before resuming play.

  2. Wear an elastic or neoprene support bandage while playing or during flare-ups.

  3. To strengthen your forearm muscles, lift small 3- to 5-pound weights by alternately flexing and extending your wrists with the palms facing down and your forearms resting on a flat surface. Start with 10 repetitions and work up to 40, three or four times a week.

Chapter 1
  1. Fast Relief for Everyday Health Problems