How to Relieve Tennis Elbow

Ariana Purificati Fune

Lateral epicondylitis, nicknamed “Tennis Elbow”, is a common injury in the forearm and elbow. Pain often occurs during and after activity and can even progress to weaken your grip strength. 

As this injury can become debilitating, usually to your dominant hand, an effective recovery plan is definitely needed. You have likely tried stretching out your wrist and elbow, but have you considered muscle scraping as the missing piece?

In this article, we will walk you through the steps for scraping for tennis elbow, and other complimentary exercises to help you recover quicker.

What causes tennis elbow?

Although nicknamed after the sport of tennis, many other activities can cause this injury. Most of the muscles that cause wrist extension converge into a common tendon that inserts into the outside of your elbow. Repeated stress causes degeneration, excess scar tissue deposits, dysfunction, and pain in this tendon1. Any activity that includes repetitive, forceful wrist extension increases the risk of tennis elbow. 

How to scrape for tennis elbow

Scraping is based on the traditional Chinese medicine practice of gua sha and is used to break up old, blocked blood vessels and promote the generation of more efficient blood flow pathways. Fresh blood flow helps break down and remove excess scar tissue, and delivers nutrients to promote healing in the degenerated tissues. 

Where to scrape

Scrape on the outside of your elbow. This is best done with your elbow straight.

Scrape on the back of your forearm. Have the wrist flexed to put these muscles on stretch to get deeper relief.

How long/how often should I scrape?

Scrape on the elbow and on the forearm for about 30-45 seconds each.

If you’re experiencing a lot of redness (petechiae), wait for at least 48 hours before you scrape again to prevent bruising. If you experience very mild or no petechiae, it is safe to scrape every day.

Strengthening

Strengthening the elbow in the wrist and forearm will help them tolerate more load, and prevent them from degenerating from repetitive stress. Perform these exercises 3-4 times per week, giving yourself at least one day of rest in between workouts. 

Pronation/Supination

Holding a weight at one end, slowly twist your wrist back and forth. Start with your elbow bent at 90 degrees, then as you gain strength, perform this exercise with a straight elbow. Pick a weight where you can perform 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps, increasing as you gain strength.

Eccentric Wrist Extension

Have your forearm supported on a table or bench, with only your hand and wrist handing off. With your palm down, slowly let the weight down, then quickly extend up. Pick a weight where you can perform 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps, increasing as you gain strength.

Tricep Kickbacks

Bend at the hip, and support yourself with your non working arm. With your upper arm parallel to your upper body, straighten your elbow to kick the weight back. Pick a weight where you can perform 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps, increasing as you gain strength.

Brachioradialis Curls

With your elbows tight to your body, hold the weights in your hands so your thumb is pointed to the sky. Pick a weight where you can perform 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps, increasing as you gain strength.

Stretching

When rehabilitating a soft tissue injury, maintaining range of motion is important during the entire healing process. Perform these stretches at least once per day, especially after strength exercises, to prevent stiffness and dysfunction at the elbow and wrist.

Pronation/Supination

Hold a dowel or broomstick at one end, with your arm extended out in from of you. Let the weight of the implement twist your wrist into its end range, and hold there for about 5 seconds, slowly twist the other way and repeat 5 times on each side.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

Bend your palm towards your forearm, then extend your elbow, straightening as much as possible. Hold this position for about 30-45 seconds.

Conclusion

Tennis elbow is a painful condition which can reduce grip strength and reduce the ability to perform everyday activities. Stretching, strengthening, and scraping especially, are all vital components of the recovery process. 
The Sidekick Echo is the recommended tool for relieving tennis elbow. If you’re new to scraping, or not ready to commit to a premium tool, check out the Curve or Swerve. Order yours now, and start feeling the relief!

References

  1. Lateral Epicondylitis. (2022, September 30). Physiopedia, . Retrieved 19:38, October 13, 2022 from https://www.physio-pedia.com/index.php?title=Lateral_Epicondylitis&oldid=317643.
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Ariana Purificati Fune

Ariana is a Certified Personal Trainer and holds a BSc in Kinesiology. She has a passion for making fitness inclusive and accessible to everyone.

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