Updated: Jul 19
Lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow, impacts people beyond tennis players. If you have ever aggravated this part of your forearm, you'll know it. The pain even when doing elementary tasks like twisting a doorknob or lifting a coffee mug is unmistakable. What causes this condition and what can you do about it?
What causes tennis elbow?
Simply put: overuse of underutilized muscle groups in your wrist, forearm and even shoulder can can aggravate the tendons and connective tissue near your elbow. It may start off as soreness that doesn't subside to stabbing and isolated pain if left unchecked. Repetitive motions both in sport and work can cause this- yes, even jobs like being a cashier can be prone to this.
The motion in particular that can cause this is twisting the forearm and well as rotation of the arm outward (think of how a backhand swing looks in tennis). If the muscles are not properly conditioned for this repeated activity, they will get overloaded and relay on connective tissue to finish the job.
The first order of business is to ISOLATE the muscles that may be weak.
Exercise #1 - Finger extensions
Have you ever looked at your forearm while its resting on a table and move your fingers around? That "wiggle" that you see is indicative of just how long the connections are between your fingertips and your elbow- they basically run the entire length of your forearm!
Start with a neutral arm position on a table or an arm of a chair with the wrist and hand in a closed position.
Simply extend the fingers as far as they'll let you go and repeat in a controlled fashion. Start off with a few sets of 10-15 reps.
As this gets easier, you can use a rubber band around the fingers to provide resistance.
You can perform this exercise in any environment, just be sure not to OVERDO it! While it may be tempting to think that performing this exercises, even in its simplicity, will get you feeling better faster just remember: over usage is what got you here in the first place! Up to a daily regimen of 3 sets can get the job done. Give it time, it'll get easier and your extensors will get stronger!
Next time, we will show you another exercise to increase overall range of motion in your forearm and wrist and isolate more primary movers.
For more help with chronic pain issues, shoot the Body Worx Team an email or call us!