What are the Best Exercises for Tennis Elbow?

Alex Paul

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.

To help prevent tennis elbow, the wrist and forearm should be strengthened.
To help prevent tennis elbow, the wrist and forearm should be strengthened.

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.

Tennis elbow refers to an injury associated with repetitive use of the elbow joint.
Tennis elbow refers to an injury associated with repetitive use of the elbow joint.

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.

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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Discussion Comments


It's a good idea to limit the activities that caused the elbow pain for as long as possible when you start using exercises to help with tennis elbow. Several times a year, I have to stop playing tennis to allow the discomfort in my elbow to go away.


I have an employee who had been complaining about pain in his elbow. He is a big muscular guy, and on the job sites we joke that he is indestructible because he always volunteers to do the heavy lifting. Anyway, as I said, he had been having pain in his elbow, so I sent him from work to the doctor one morning.

When he came back he told us the doctor told him he had tennis elbow, which was a big laugh because this guy probably wouldn't know one end of a tennis racket from the other.

In fact, tennis elbow symptoms can be caused by many activities. This guy may have developed the condition from the back and forth motions associated with painting or from driving screws, or a long list of other tasks. He now uses ice and heat on the injury and wears a tennis elbow brace.


I have tried performing arm curls as a way to strengthen the muscles around my elbow. However, the tennis elbow pain is sometimes too great for me to do the curls with the amount of weight most of the guys I work out with use. I don't like appearing physically weak, but I have learned that by using much lighter weight than I can physically curl, I am able to strengthen the muscles without making a painful condition even more painful.

Also, with the lighter weight, there is less chance that I will do more damage to the tendons that are already stressed.

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