Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow Recovery Guide
Rehabilitation After Tennis or Golfer's Elbow Repair
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an injury to the muscles and tendons on the outside (lateral aspect) of the elbow that usually comes from overuse or repetitive use. It is not just seen in tennis players and occasionally can occur with an injury. Golfer’s elbow, known as medial epicondylitis, occurs on the inner part of the elbow and is also due to overuse or repetitive use. In this guide, we will outline the phases for tennis elbow recovery.
What Causes Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow?
Tennis elbow is generally caused by overuse of tendons on the back of the forearm in tennis players but also occurs with other overuse activities.
Most patients with tennis elbow symptoms are not tennis players at all. Activities that require repetitive use of the elbow (e.g., painting a house, using a mouse, cutting hair, etc.) can cause this condition. However, sometimes patients will have pain without a history of repetitive use. This is mostly due to the normal aging process of tendons or to weakness in the arm.
Golfer’s elbow is less common and usually occurs with flexing the wrist or gripping with the hand. It occurs in golfers but also with individuals using hand or power tools, throwing a ball or even swimming.
Treatment for TENNIS AND Golfer’s Elbow Recovery
The main treatment for golfer’s and tennis elbow recovery is initial rest and ice to control the pain followed by a stretching and strengthening program.
These conditions can become a chronic problem if not addressed early. Regaining full strength and flexibility is critical before returning to your previous level of sports activity.
The Treatment Program provided below applies to both tennis and golfer’s elbow, and has three phases:
Tennis Elbow Recovery Phase 1
Tennis Elbow Recovery Phase 2
Tennis Elbow Recovery Phase 3
Goals: Improve muscular strength and endurance, maintain and improve flexibility, and gradually return to prior level of sport or high-level activity.
Continue the stretching and strengthening tennis elbow recovery exercises outlined above. When your symptoms are resolved and you have regained full mobility and strength, you may gradually increase your level of playing activity.
Equipment Modifications TO AVOID REINJURY
Using the wrong tennis racquet may have been a contributing factor to your injury. Guidelines for racquet selection for non-tournament players are provided below.
- Racquet material - Graphite composites are currently considered the best in terms of torsion and vibration control.
- Head size - A midsize racquet (95-110 square inches) is preferred. The popular oversized racquets cause problems because they make the arm susceptible to injury due to the increased torque effect of shots hit off-center.
- String tension - Stay at the lower end of the manufacturer's recommendation. While higher string tensions provide improved ball control, they also increase the torque and vibration experienced by the arm.
- Stringing material - Synthetic nylon is preferred. Re-string every 6 months.
- Grip size - A grip too large or too small lessens control and promotes excessive wrist movement. To measure an appropriate grip size for your hand, see image above.