If you’re an amateur player of tennis, squash or any other racket sport, the pain of elbow or wrist tendonitis is probably something you know all too well. Tendonitis affects amateur players mostly, as their less skilled technique can often contribute to its existence. However, players right at the top of the game can still suffer from either elbow or wrist tendonitis as a result of sustained stress from training and competition.
Tips for Pros and part-timers alike
Whichever you are, there exists a number of tips to help you avoid tendonitis.
- Work with a skilled coach to improve your technique
- Make sure that the grip on your racket is the right size for you to reduce stress on the joints.
- Play on clay or grass courts (cement and other hard courts raise ball velocity, producing greater impacts and higher elbow forces)
- Use less-stiff rackets (the stiffer the racket, the larger the force transmitted to the arm)
- String your racket less tightly (the tighter the strings, the higher the force)
- Strength train your wrist muscles, as well as the muscles on the inside and outside of the elbow. For the wrists, good exercises include squeezing a tennis ball and doing wrist curls and extensions with a dumbbell
- Carry out stretching exercises for the wrist muscles and muscles on the outside and inside of the elbow after you play, or after a warm-up which includes light hitting of the ball
- Avoid playing more than four times a week, and if soreness appears after a game, don't play again until the pain disappears
Some other tips to serve out tendonitis
- Ice down your sore elbow, keeping the ice on for 10- to 12-minute intervals, with 20-minute rests between applications
- Use oral anti-inflammatory medications as directed by your doctor
- Apply anti-inflammatory creams to the elbow joint
- As directed by your doctor, use Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) treatments, which have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in scientific studies
- Once the pain subsides, try using a 'counter brace band' when you play. It can help readjust the impact points to reduce the pain you suffer.
Game, Set and Match
If you follow these tips strictly, you can reduce and even eliminate wrist and elbow tendonitis - and serve out the pain permanently.