Small tears and inflammation cause tennis elbow in the tendons surrounding the elbow, commonly affecting the elbow’s outer part, resulting in stiffness and discomfort.
This condition is often caused by repeated contraction of the forearm muscles, making athletes and sports people more susceptible to developing it. If left untreated, tennis elbow can worsen and become a chronic condition, leading to a restricted range of motion.
Given the negative impact of tennis elbow on daily life and overall health, it is essential to take steps to prevent its development. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial, but there are also things you can do to lower your risk of developing this condition. Scroll down to discover more about the ways to tennis elbow prevention.
Risk Factors for Tennis Elbow Injuries
Despite the term tennis elbow, the condition is not limited to tennis players. Here are the most common causes and risk factors of tennis elbow injuries.
- Repetitive Motions
If you want to prevent an orthopaedic condition, then you have to understand the mechanisms behind it. Tennis elbow is primarily caused by repeated motions and contracts in the forearm muscles that raise and stretch hands and wrists. The repetitive movement will pressure the elbow tissues and result in tiny tears in the tendons.
- Poor Technique and Form
Using improper or poor techniques in using sports equipment can cause strain in the forearm muscles that will develop tennis elbow. In addition, practising improper techniques during sports activities or using a screwdriver in a poor posture will progress the symptoms of the condition.
- Age and Gender
Tennis elbow can occur in individuals of all ages and gender. Studies show that tennis elbow is more prominent in adults between 30 and 50 years of age and women when compared with men.
Tips for Preventing Tennis Elbow Injuries in Sports and Daily Life
Rather than treating the tennis elbow with a combination of ice and physical therapy, it will be much easier for you to prevent the condition from developing in the first place. Here are some effective tips to follow that will aid you in avoiding the onset of tennis elbow.
- Warm-up Exercises and Stretches
Tennis elbow happens due to overuse injury after excessive stress in the forearm muscles, elbow and hands. Your muscles are more prone to damage and inflammation if you don’t warm up.
It is less likely to occur when you follow warm-up exercises and stretches before performing an activity. It will make your muscles strong and flexible for athletes and non-athletes.
If you consider Exercise to prevent tennis elbow, you can opt for walking, biking and resistance training. Moreover, adding simple extension movements will greatly aid you in staying fit and avoiding elbow injuries. Here are some exercises and stretches that will prevent the tennis elbow.
- Wrist curl
- Wrist extensor and flexors
- First squeeze
- Towel Twist
- Finger stretch
Exercise is an important aspect of the elbow tennis prevention program that helps you regain your muscles’ full functionality. Given the exercises above, the frequency and how often you perform them depend on your condition. You can follow the advice of a physiotherapist and work your way up gradually.
- Proper Technique and Form
When playing sports or lifting heavy objects, you often think about your knees and back and ignore the arms and elbows. However, they are also prone to damage if you don’t use proper techniques and form. To prevent the condition, you must implement healthy strategies to keep your injury-free and safe.
Sometimes, it is better to consult a professional trainer to learn the proper technique and form. A certified expert can critique your style, grip and swing while playing to ensure you are making mistakes and increasing the risk of tennis elbow.
- Protective Gear and Equipment
If you have difficulty maintaining the proper body mechanics to safeguard your elbow, it’s time to get protective gear and equipment. Whether the elbow pain occurs due to sports or other job-related activities, you must ensure that you use the right tools. For instance, a tennis player must maintain a strong hand grip and a tennis racket of the right weight.
On the other hand, if you are from a construction business, you must wear structured gloves or include a padding tool to improve your grip on the objects while effectively reducing the vibration. You can also invest in an elbow or wrist brace to support and improve the function of your musculoskeletal system.
- Rest and Recovery
Resting your affected or painful arm is most important when preventing the tennis elbow. Rest and recovery will allow the damaged tendons to heal naturally.
You can also apply ice to the affected area and compression to relax the muscles. Here are some tips to follow.
- Don’t Push Through the Pain
The first line for preventing the condition is stopping or limiting the activities that cause pain in your elbows, either sports or non-sports activities. For instance, if you feel severe pain when carrying items from the ground, avoid the action to reduce the strain on the muscles and tendons.
- Keep the Wrist Steady
Using a splint to immobilise your arm whenever you feel pain is another strategy to rest your elbow. Also, a counterforce brace will reduce the tension in the tendons and ease the pain.
- Take Breaks
Taking frequent breaks between activities will lessen the tendons’ pain. It will help your muscles to get stronger and better while giving them time to heal and regain mobility.
- Reduce Repetition
If possible, you can limit the repetitive use of the same arm. For instance, if you are involved in sports activities involving many arm movements, try cross-training with other sports that use legs.
If you have consistent elbow pain, you will realise how much it can impact your daily life. Also, you may assume that it will go away on its own.
While that may be right in some cases, if the pain persists, it could indicate tennis elbow. Hence, you need immediate medical attention to prevent the condition from progressing.
Apart from treatment, you must follow preventive exercises and stretches to improve the stability and strength of your joints. Also, listen to your body for the signs and plan a personalised approach.
In a nutshell, implementing healthy lifestyle changes and practising proper exercise will help you prevent the occurrence/ recurrence of tennis elbow, allowing you to live full mobility.