You don't have to be one of the Williams sisters to know the discomfort of tennis elbow. This injury isn't just reserved for athletes, however. Anyone who engages in repetitive motions with their wrists or arms is susceptible to tennis elbow. If left untreated, tennis elbow can make it difficult to complete everyday activities such as opening jars and gripping and manipulating objects like doorknobs.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of exercises you can do to help prevent and alleviate discomfort from tennis elbow. Here are a few activities and exercises that may help your tennis elbow and improve your range of motion.
What Is Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, which is also known by the medical term Lateral epicondylitis, is classified as a repetitive strain injury. It primarily affects the tendons in your forearm that connect to your elbow and causes swelling and inflammation. This injury is common among people who make any repetitive motion with their arms, which can be sports such as tennis or golf, but also unsuspecting activities like working on a computer for long hours.
1. Fist Clench
Poor grip strength is a leading symptom of tennis elbow. In fact you can test this out right now by outstretching your arm and clenching your fist. If you feel pain on the lateral side (outside) of your elbow, that could be an indicator that you have tennis elbow.
You can do the fist clench exercise to help alleviate aches associated with tennis elbow. For this exercise, you'll need a table, chair, and small towel. Fold the towel into a ball and hold it in your fist. Seated at the table, place your forearm on the tabletop and hold and squeeze the towel for ten seconds. Repeat this exercise ten times on each arm. The fist clench exercise works your thumb and long flexor tendons.
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2. Wrist Extension and Flexion
Working the muscles in your wrist helps with mobility and with strengthening the muscles around your elbow. Wrist flexion is the act of bending your hand downward at the wrist so your palm is facing the underside of your forearm. Conversely, wrist extension is moving your wrist upward toward the outer side of your forearm. You can improve your range of motion in your wrists by doing wrist flexor and extensor stretches.
To stretch your wrist flexor, sit down with your forearm across a tabletop with your wrist dangling off the edge. Then, point your wrist downward toward the floor and hold this position.
To complete a wrist extensor exercise using a tabletop, extend your wrist upward while making a fist.
If you don't have a tabletop available, you can use your other hand to manually pull your wrist up or down to achieve the same results. Hold your wrists in these positions for a total of 15 to 30 seconds each to get the full benefit of your range of motion.
3. Isometric Elbow Extension and Flexion
This exercise is quite similar to wrist extension and flexion exercises, except it works different muscles. Isometric elbow stretches focus on strengthening your biceps in addition to supporting range of motion in your elbow. The term isometric means without movement of joints, so these exercises are ideal for people looking to recover from tennis elbow while still experiencing discomfort.
To do an isometric elbow flexion, sit at a table and place your hands under the tabletop with your palms facing up. Then, lift your hands straight upward as if you're trying to lift the table and hold this position for a few seconds. For an isometric elbow extension, place your hand under your opposite wrist and apply upward pressure while attempting to push your arm downward.
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4. Stretch Before Exercise
Proper stretching before you exercise helps stimulate blood flow, enhance flexibility and reduce the chance of injury. Stretching your upper body is especially important if you're doing an activity with a high chance of causing a repetitive strain injury, such as tennis elbow. You can do reaching stretches, which can involve interlocking your fingers at shoulder height with your arms out and reaching as far forward as you can. Or, you can do a tricep stretch, where you place your arms overhead, bend one arm, and use the other arm to pull your elbow down behind your head gently.
Not all is the same, and there are two main types you should know about: static and active stretching. Active stretching is typically done after exercising, as its purpose is to foster flexibility and relieve tension. Alternatively, static stretching should be done before a workout to prepare your muscles to be engaged, and the key to static stretching is to stretch your muscles just before the point you feel pain.
5. Recover Sufficiently
Tennis elbow is an injury resulting from doing the same motion repeatedly, so it's important to rest between workouts so your body has time to recover. Conventional wisdom on exercising says you should take at least three to five days to rest between high-intensity strength workouts to avoid overtraining and overextending your joints and muscles. Neglecting to sufficiently rest between exercises can also instigate additional tennis elbow aches and discomfort.
Blue Stop Max has several gels designed to provide relief for achy joints resulting from tennis elbow. Simply rub the treatment on your elbow and let the emu oil, coconut oil, and aloe soothing powers take effect to help you properly recover from strenuous activity.
Protect Your Joints
Your joints are some of your most important body parts, so treat them as such. If you're experiencing joint discomfort, regularly exercise the afflicted joints and take steps to prevent further damage. Stretch before exercising, and give yourself enough time to rest between workouts. Consult a physician if the discomfort doesn't go away or interferes with your daily activities. Blue Stop Max makes massage gels to help protect your joints and keep them free from aches and discomfort.
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