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What Are the Best Exercises for Tennis Elbow?

To help prevent tennis elbow, the wrist and forearm should be strengthened.
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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 19 March 2014
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Two of the best exercises for tennis elbow are static stretches and isometric wrist extension. Once the athlete has progressed beyond the initial pain, dynamic exercises can be added to the rehabilitation program. These involve movement of the wrist and are more difficult than isometric exercises; they should usually not be performed until the initial pain begins to settle down. Finger extension, which is spreading the fingers against resistance, is another good exercise for tennis elbow.

Stretching exercises for tennis elbow are important during rehabilitation because flexible muscles reduce the pressure on the joint. An effective tennis elbow stretch can be performed with the patient holding his or her arm out in front of the body. The other hand should grasp the wrist and pull downwards, so that the fingers point towards the feet. Finally, the arm is rotated inwards so the fingers cross the body. This position should be held for at least 30 seconds and repeated regularly.

Aside from stretching, it’s also essential to strengthen relevant muscles in the forearm. This can either be achieved through isometric contraction — where the muscles are tensed against resistance — or dynamic contraction, where movement is involved. Resistance exercises for tennis elbow should usually only be started when the initial pain from the condition is starting to subside.

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To perform an isometric extension of the wrist, stand with the hand below a table. With the palm facing towards the floor, the wrist should be lifted up against the table. The wrist shouldn’t move during this process, but the arm muscles should contract. The position is held for around five to 10 seconds, and repeated at least ten times.

If isometric exercises for tennis elbow can be performed without pain, the patient will often be advised to move onto dynamic exercises. These work the same muscles, but involve movement and are usually more difficult. A dynamic wrist extension exercise can be performed by holding a small weight in one hand. The wrist should be allowed to drop below the level of a table with the forearm resting and then pulled up into extension against the weight. This exercise should be started slowly because it can cause irritation to the elbow if performed too soon.

Finger extension exercises for tennis elbow are also effective at reducing pain. The starting position is with the fingers spread like a claw, and an elastic band placed around all five tips. Once the elastic band is in place, the patient should relax and spread the fingers alternately around 25 times. If this exercise is too easy, another band can be added for extra resistance.

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