Could this simple exercise be a cure for Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow or ‘lateral epicondylitis’ is a chronic, inflammatory condition causing pain in the tendon on the outside of the elbow. Read about Tennis Elbow on NHS Choices. My husband Mat suffered with Tennis Elbow for over a year, before he learned of a simple exercise which has cured his tennis elbow completely.
To understand the exercise, we first need to absorb a little bit of theory about the two types of muscle contraction:
1) Concentric – This is the type of movement you are familiar with. I.e. you flex a muscle (for example the biceps on the top of the upper arm) and something moves (in this case your arm will bend at the elbow).
2) Eccentric – This type of muscle contraction may be unfamiliar to you. With an eccentric contraction, the muscle flexes, but the part of the body being moved is forced to move against the normal direction of movement. In the above example, imagine flexing your biceps (which ‘wants’ to bend the arm), but instead placing your other hand on the forearm and forcing it to straighten instead. Crucially, with an eccentric contraction, the muscle is flexing, but is elongating at the same time.
The key to this cure for Tennis Elbow exercise is repeated eccentric contractions of the muscle/tendon that is causing you pain. This is one of the muscles that extends the wrist.
if you put your arm out straight horizontally in front of you, palm facing down, and tilt your hand upwards by bending at the wrist, this is wrist extension. They key, therefore, is to find a way to practice eccentric contractions of these muscles (the wrist extensors). An eccentric contraction of the wrist extensors means trying to tilt the back of the hand upwards whilst something else forces it down. It is currently unclear why Tennis Elbow responds so favourably to eccentric contractions, but it really worked for Mat!
The cure for Tennis Elbow exercise utilises the TheraBand bar, a small rubber bar, which is first twisted between the hands, then allowed to untwist slowly under tension, providing that all-important eccentric contraction of the wrist extensors. Here is a short video of the exercise itself.
The first movement, in which the bar is twisted, is just the perparation, it is the untwisting of the bar slowly and under tension, which is the exercise itself. Please note that in the video, the the lady performs the exercise far too quickly. You should instead do it slowly, with each untwist taking about 5 seconds. (In the video, it is the lady’s right arm that is being exercised – on her left hand side as you look at the screen). Aim initially for 3 sets of 5 repetitions, several times a day.
Mat found that he needed to be working sufficiently hard to experience a mild amount of Tennis Elbow pain during the exercise, for it to be effective. He found that, as the exercise started to work over several weeks, it became harder induce any pain, meaning he needed to twist the bar a little more in order to do so.
TheraBand Bar as a Cure for Tennis Elbow
The TheraBand bar comes in three versions: the blue bar is the stiffest. Mat found this version the most suitable for him, so I would recommend this for men. The green bar is the middle stiffness, and perhaps the most suitable for women. The red bar is the least stiff and might be the best option if your tennis elbow is particularly severe or your strength is very low. The bar can be purchased on Amazon by clicking the link below.
Tennis Elbow can be a real nuisance, so I do hope you have as much success with this cure for Tennis Elbow as Mat did. Before he tried this technique, he went to a couple of physios, neither of which were really able to help. And yet this simple exercise proved to be the key! 🙂
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