With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, you may be itching to head outside for a game of tennis on your community court. If you haven’t swung a racquet all winter, there are a few things to consider in order to minimize the potential for injury.
Lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow is pain that occurs on the outside of your elbow and/ or along your forearm. It is one of the most common injuries that occur from participating in a racquet sport. Repetitive movements such as hitting backhand contribute to small tears in the wrist extensor tendons as they attach to the bone at your elbow. This can lead to pain while playing tennis but also during daily activities like typing/ mousing or opening a door.
There are some simple things that you can do to enjoy an injury free summer on the courts.
1. Strengthen: Rest your forearm on a table with your palm facing down over the edge. Use a small hand weight (2-5 lbs) to curl up and down 3×10. Flip your hand over so your palm is facing up and repeat 3×10.
2. Stretch: With your arm extended out in front, use your opposite hand to pull the wrist down until you feel a stretch in your forearm. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Flip your hand over and pull your wrist back stretching out the other side of your forearm. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
3. Make sure that your racquet grip size is correct for your hand and don’t hold it too tight
4. Take a lesson to ensure that you have proper technique, particularly during your backswing.
If you find yourself experiencing pain in your forearm during the season take a week off, use ice for 5-10 minutes on your elbow daily, stretch your forearm throughout the day and try using a tennis elbow strap to reduce the stress on your forearm. If the pain doesn’t resolve within two weeks of self-care consider seeking professional help from a physiotherapist.