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Tennis Elbow and Chiropractic Care

When you go out on the tennis court, you may not be Serena Williams, but you’re going through the same movements and putting your body through the same stress. Of course, when something goes wrong, tennis pros like Williams have teams of professionals to help. But hey, you’ve got your chiropractor. But you know what? He or she is your ace! Despite its name, tennis elbow is only rarely related to playing tennis – though it’s estimated as many as 70 percent of tennis players will eventually develop the condition. More often, it’s office workers or construction workers or factory workers or musicians – anyone who engages in the same sort of repetitive activity with their hands, day after day.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Whatever the root cause, this repetition begins to affect the extensor carpi radialis brevis, the muscle in the forearm that extends and abducts the wrist. The pain typically begins around the elbow, and usually progressively worsens, especially when those who suffer from this condition attempt to open a door, squeeze or grip something. Tennis elbow is a repetitive strain injury that can result in symptoms that come on gradually such as:

  • Pain in the elbow or forearm

  • Tenderness

  • Burning sensation in the elbow

  • Weak grip strength

Pain will be made worse when:

  • Make a fist

  • Grip an object

  • Open a door

  • Shake hands

  • Raise your hand

  • Straighten your wrist

How can Chiropractic Help

When you reach your break point and see the chiropractor for your tennis elbow, a thorough exam should establish what the problem is. Once that occurs, it’s likely you’ll be given stretches and exercises to do at home. These things should help, and can include:

  • Wrist stretches - Extend your arm out in front of you with your palm down, then pull your fingers and hand back toward you using the other hand. Don’t go so far that you’re in pain, but you should feel a stretch as you hold it for 30 seconds, release, and repeat three more times.

  • Wrist extension - Range of motion exercises are important when counteracting tennis elbow. Start with the elbow at a right angle, then place your hand palm-up on the table in front of you. Push your wrist up to lift it off the table, making sure to avoid pain in the process, and repeat 10 times. As you get better at this extension, you can work in some resistance by holding a water bottle, but make sure to check with the chiropractor first.

  • Grip strengthening exercise - Get a stress ball or squishy ball and imagine John McEnroe’s head as you hold it in your hand and squeeze gently. Hold this for five seconds, release, and repeat 10 times.

  • Strengthening - If you want to build up strength in your wrist, then you need to a do a little move the pros refer to as “the hammer.” Get an actual hammer and grip the handle as you hold your elbow at a 90-degree angle, resting it on the surface of a table. Next, rotate the hammer slowly toward your body, turning in a direction that brings your palm downward. Then, reverse the movement and rotate the hammer out and your palm up. Repeat 10 times.


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