Tennis elbow, medically termed as lateral epicondylitis, is a very common condition that arises due to massive pressure in the tendons of the elbow i.e. the strong flexible tissues connecting the forearm muscle to the elbow bone. Although the name tennis elbow suggests that it occurs predominantly in sportspersons, this painful disorder can, in fact, develop in any individual whose work or daily routine involves repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. This includes extended durations of typing on a keyboard, utilizing cutting tools while moulding wood for making furniture, chopping vegetables, fruits while cooking an elaborate meal, as well as playing sports like tennis, squash. As all these activities entail firmly gripping gear with the arms and wrists for a long period of time, tennis elbow which is a form of repetitive strain injury like tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome etc., invariably results in pain in the bony bump of the elbow, forearm, wrist, along with muscle strain and sore fingers.
Also Read: Repetitive Strain Injury: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
While applying ice packs, resting the arms and refraining from engaging the wrists, elbows in arduous tasks continuously are recommended foremost by doctors to resolve tennis elbow, once pain and inflammation subsides, it is advised by healthcare practitioners and fitness experts to begin with gentle exercises to restore optimal flexibility of the forearm. This not only helps the person regain full range of motion and smooth mobility of the wrists, arms and elbows, but also heals the weakened tendons, strengthens the forearm muscles and averts recurrence of tennis elbow.
Proven Exercises To Mitigate Discomfort From Tennis Elbow:
First be seated erect on a chair, with both arms extended down fully by the side of the hips. Then, bend the elbow of the affected arm at 90 degrees i.e. a right angle. Extend the hand outwards, with the palm facing up. Now, slowly turn the wrist so the palm faces down. Remain still in this pose for 15 seconds, then relax the arm. Do this wrist turn 10 times each, with both the right and left arms.
Sit down on a chair and stretch your forearms in front to a comfortable position. With both palms facing up and the fingers extended fully, fold all five fingers in towards the thumb and wrap it tightly with a rubber band. Gradually open up both palms, with the rubber band providing resistance to help expand the wrist muscles, then close them again. Repeat this motion for 20 – 25 times.
Stand up straight on a level surface and extend both arms fully down along either side of the hips. Now, slowly bend one arm fully in, towards the body and ensure the hand touches the shoulder. Remain in this stance for 15 – 20 seconds, then relax the arms. Do this exercise 10 times each, with both the right and left arms separately, then together simultaneously.
Wrist Extensor Stretch
Stand straight with the back and spine erect on a flat, even ground or floor. Stretch both arms outwards straight, lifting them up to shoulder level. Keep both palms facing down. Now, gradually bend the wrist of one arm downwards and holding it with the other arm, pull it back gently towards the body. Hold this pose for 15 – 30 seconds, relax the wrist and arms and repeat this motion 5 – 10 times each, bending the right wrist and left wrist, to help ease tendon pain and stretch the wrist muscles.
Roll up a towel and grasp it properly at both ends with the arms. Sit down in a chair in a comfortable position, keeping the shoulders, back and spine straight and aligned. Twist the towel by moving the hands in opposite directions, in a motion similar to draining out water from a wet cloth. Do this iteration 10 times in one direction, then again 10 more times in the opposite direction, to stretch the wrist muscles and ease pain in the forearms.