A SIMPLE Self Care Routine To Prevent Tennis Elbow

A simple self care routine to help you prevent tennis elbow shared with you from an occupational therapist.

First off, let's talk about what the tennis elbow is. We have the muscles on the top of our forearm, which is responsible for lifting our wrist and our fist like that the wrist extensor muscles.

By doing over and over again the repetitive motion from gripping, from carrying objects, [and] from reaching, a lot of people will develop inflammation or degeneration happening at the proximal tendon of their wrist extensor muscles. And because of that, people will experience pain in the outside of the elbow, which is the typical presentation of the tennis elbow.

A very similar condition will happen at the inside of the elbow, which is called the golfer's elbow. By then, for the purpose of the video today, I'm going to show the tips or the routine that's more tailored towards the tennis elbow because it's more common.

So, the first thing to address for the tennis elbow is the soft tissue release.

It's very simple to do. All you need to do is to have lotion, any kind of lotion would be fine. Use a little bit of the lotion, put it in your hands, and then just simply stroke through the top of your forearm along those wrist extensors. Do that on both sides.

You will feel that, especially the top of the form part of the actual muscle part. Usually it carries away a lot of tension from all the work you do throughout the day. And just by doing the release like that, it helps you to relieve the muscle tension.

I will suggest to do 10 repetitions on each side, but then, this is very gentle. It's not gonna do any damage, so feel free to do more repetitions.

I also would suggest to do this at the end of the day after working all day, but then you can always do that more. I would also suggest to do this first thing in the morning because guess what?

When you're sleeping for several hours, you're not moving your arms and then, you might develop stiffness, and that would be a good time to relieve the tension. So like I said, at least 10 repetitions on each side. That's the first thing, the soft tissue release.

The second thing I'm going to show you guys, it's a very simple stretch for the wrist extensors. 

So what you need to do is just to make a fist, and then get the other hand ready, and then you bend your wrist down to elongate the wrist extensor muscles and straighten your elbow at the same time, come back in, and bend your wrist down, straighten your elbow, don't hold for too long, maybe five seconds and pause and come back in.

You want it repetitive so that you have better circulation into that area. Remember, this is a prevention program, so you just want to facilitate healing [and] facilitate circulation, so that no damage would happen to the muscles and to the tendons.

It's a prevention program. Like I said, at least 10 repetitions on each side. But then, you can always do more because it's very gentle. It's not gonna hurt to do more, but then make sure for each repetition, you are only holding for at most five seconds.

Now you can relax. That's the second thing to do in this routine.

elbow pain prevent tennis elbow

Image via Pixabay

The third thing to do, I would encourage you guys to find an elastic band, like what I got here.

You might need to step on to it at one end to get it stabilized and fixed. What are we going to do is we wrap the band around our hand. You simply just let the band to pull your hand down while you control the motion.

Now, you see how slow my hand is moving. And then, you use the outer hand to bring your fist back up. Slowly control.

This is a very, very gentle exercise. It's not strengthening or challenging your muscles to a fatiguing level. It's an exercise to make the tendon stronger and healthier.

You only do the lowering part, control the lowering, and use the other hand to assist coming up. 

Control the lowering, which is called the eccentric exercise in the therapy world, which helps with the health of the tendon and even the muscles.

Like I said, because it's very gentle, so 10 repetitions on each side but feel free to do more. But sometimes. some people might already have some overuse happening. If you are already feeling fatigue, weak, or juddering, stop at wherever you're at.

Don't push through beyond pain or anything with this specific exercise. But then in general, 10 repetitions on each side. And definitely do that after the stretch and after the soft tissue release that we talked about earlier.

So that's that and these are the three simple things of self-care routine you can do to help you prevent tennis elbow..

I’m Andy Tseng, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, as well as a Pilates Instructor practicing in Austin, Texas.

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Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist at CORE Therapy and Pilates
Andy is passionate about providing a holistic approach to help people in Austin stay active and fit. He has a special interest in helping musicians perform more freely and comfortably. To better serve his patients, he acquired his manual therapy certification (MTC) through USAHS in 2018, and he is in the process of becoming a certified hand therapist. He also completed his Comprehensive Pilates and pre-/post-natal training through Core Pilates NYC, and became a certified classical Pilates instructor in 2019.