Chiropractic: Taking a Swing at Tennis Elbow
By Sara Butler
When you go out on the tennis court, you may not be Roger Federer or Serena Williams, but you’re going through the same movements and putting your body through the same stress. Of course, when something goes wrong, tennis pros like Federer and Williams have teams of people to help. On the other hand, you’ve got your chiropractor. But you know what? He or she is your ace!
Any physical activity can lead to injury. The chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic are your home court advantage in the battle against tennis elbow. Here’s how they can help if that backspin becomes a tailspin.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow impacts the tendons and muscles in your forearm that extend to your fingers and wrist, causing inflammation. It’s a repetitive strain injury that can result in symptoms that come on gradually such as:
- Pain in the elbow or forearm
- Burning sensation in the elbow
- Weak grip strength
Symptoms will be made worse if you try to:
- Make a fist
- Grip an object
- Open a door
- Shake hands
- Raise your hand
- Straighten your wrist
You don’t have to play tennis to get tennis elbow. In fact, any repetitive activity that involves gripping can lead to symptoms of tennis elbow. If you develop it, just tell everyone it’s a tennis injury that you and your buddy Novak Djokovic are working through together.
How the Chiropractor Helps
When you reach your break point and see the chiropractor for your tennis elbow, a thorough exam should establish what the problem is. Once that occurs, it’s likely you’ll be given stretches and exercises to do at home. These things should help, and can include:
- Wrist stretches - Extend your arm out in front of you with your palm down, then pull your fingers and hand back toward you using the other hand. Don’t go so far that you’re in pain, but you should feel a stretch as you hold it for 30 seconds, release, and repeat three more times.
- Wrist extension - Range of motion exercises are important when counteracting tennis elbow. Start with the elbow at a right angle, then place your hand palm-up on the table in front of you. Push your wrist up to lift it off the table, making sure to avoid pain in the process, and repeat 10 times. As you get better at this extension, you can work in some resistance by holding a water bottle, but make sure to check with the chiropractor first.
- Grip strengthening exercise - Get a stress ball or squishy ball and imagine John McEnroe’s head as you hold it in your hand and squeeze gently. Hold this for five seconds, release, and repeat 10 times.
- Strengthening - If you want to build up strength in your wrist, then you need to a do a little move the pros refer to as “the hammer.” Get an actual hammer and grip the handle as you hold your elbow at a 90-degree angle, resting it on the surface of a table. Next, rotate the hammer slowly toward your body, turning in a direction that brings your palm downward. Then, reverse the movement and rotate the hammer out and your palm up. Repeat 10 times.
Your chiropractor may advise you to modify your activities. It may be recommended you reduce the duration of the activity that is causing pain to help reduce the repetition. Instead of playing tennis later this month and next -- particularly May 21 to June 10 -- you may have to settle for watching the French Open, where the clay courts of Roland Garros will challenge anyone with a sore arm or poor stamina. But watching tennis can be pretty compelling, and the French Open has produced moments that are some of tennis’ most dramatic.
If you have questions about tennis elbow or suspect you may have it, the chiropractors at The Joint are great resources. They may not be able to help you with your faults -- or your double faults -- but they’ll show you the love that will help you to stay in the game!
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