With the summer sun approaching, we all want to be out and more active, whether that is playing sport or looking after the garden, but are we prepared for an increase in these activity levels? Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can occur in pretty much every muscle and tendon, however, one of the most common areas affected is the elbow, primarily due to the reliance of gripping and clicking in today's society, with the most commonly affected being the extensors, with infamous 'tennis elbow' forming. Activities such as gardening, manual work and of course, racket sports (or any sports which involve gripping and high forces), are the usual culprits for elbow-related RSI, and are subsequently the activities affected the greatest.
So, are there any way to reduce my chances of developing tennis elbow, or other forms of RSI? What can I do if I think I have tennis elbow? All is covered below in this blog!
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects the outer part of the elbow. It is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, the bony bump on the outer part of the elbow. Despite its name, tennis elbow can affect anyone who performs repetitive motions with their wrist and forearm, not just tennis players, and not just those who play sports.
Typically, the symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, particularly when performing activities such as gripping, lifting, or twisting objects. The pain may also radiate down the forearm. In severe cases, the condition can cause weakness and difficulty performing daily activities, or indeed, your sporting performance. Use of manual therapy, electrotherapy, and rehabilitative exercises can be used to help alleviate symptoms and begin to tackle tennis elbow, however, as with many overuse injuries, recovery can be a slow process.
So how do you reduce your risk of developing tennis elbow? Below are 5 principles to implement into your regime, with the main focus on ensuring the tendons aren’t loaded too much too soon, but also strengthened to be prepared for high workloads.
1. Gradual Increase in Activity: If you're new to an activity that involves repetitive forearm movements, such as playing tennis, it's important to gradually increase the intensity and duration of the activity to avoid putting excessive stress on your muscles and tendons.
2. Rest and Recovery: Rest and recovery are essential to preventing overuse injuries like tennis elbow. Make sure to take breaks and rest your forearm muscles during and after activities that involve repetitive movements.
3. Strengthening and Stretching Exercises: Specific exercises that target the muscles and tendons of the forearm can help to prevent tennis elbow by strengthening and stretching these structures. Consult a physical therapist or a qualified fitness professional for specific exercises tailored to your needs.
4. Use of Proper Equipment: The use of proper equipment, such as a racket or tool with the correct grip size and string tension, can help to reduce the risk of developing tennis elbow.
5. Warming Up and Cooling Down: Properly warming up and cooling down before and after physical activities can help to prevent tennis elbow and other types of injuries.
The earlier you start to combat and take action against tennis elbow, the shorter the recovery time-it won't just go away with no action!
If you believe you are suffering from tennis elbow, or would like further advice on preventative measures, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be more than happy to help!