Top 15 Tips to Avoid Tennis Elbow – Must Read

Tennis elbow is mostly common within tennis players

Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an inflammation in the tendon of the forearm. Tennis is a game played worldwide, and most players experience tennis elbow at some stage in their career. Tennis elbow is not just confined to the tennis players or athletes but can affect other people too, who belong to a totally different profession.

Tennis elbow is a medical condition, where one feels pain and tenderness in the outer part of the elbow, which weakens the grip strength of the hand and sometimes also extends into the back of the forearm. Below is a list of tips and tricks to help tennis players avoid tennis elbow and what to do to get better.

Hint: These tips also apply to paddle tennis.

Causes of tennis elbow

What causes tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is mainly attributed to damage in the extensor carpi radialis breivs (ECRB) muscle, which muscle in the forearm that helps in extending the wrist. Tennis elbow occurs when a sudden and accidental movement in the arm occurs (call it a sprain or jerk), or due to extra working and lifting very heavy loads that a persons’ arm is not used to.

Symptoms of Tennis elbow

  1. Increasing elbow pain.
  2. Weak(end) grip.
  3. Feeling pain when squeezing something or holding hard.
  4. Extending the outside of the elbow to the forearm and wrist is painful.
  5. Lifting or using tools is painful.

When to go for a physical examination? Signs of Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow needs to be examined as soon as possible. If left untreated, it may cause serious damage to the arm tissues

What are the signs of tennis elbow?

Feeling pain when pressure is applied on the spot where the tendons attach to bone is usually a sign of tennis elbow. Another sign is feeling pain on the outer side of the elbow when your elbow is straight and your wrist is bent towards the palm side (flexed).

Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis. Pain could also be a sign of something else

Who can experience tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is not just confined to athletes, but it can be experienced by anyone, espeically those with a sensitive elbow or weak elbow strength.

In general tennis elbow is mostly experienced by people in their 40’s or 50’s. A butcher might experience lateral epicondylitis because of overusing his butcher knife, a carpenter might experience it due to not carrying the hammer the right way or excessively working with the hammer, you can experience is tennis elbow if you hit the wall or metal door hard, and so on. 

Tips to avoid tennis elbow

Tennis elbow must be avoided as it may lead to serious consequences if the tissue damage aggravates. To prevent tennis elbow, some of the techniques and methods are described below:

1-Handle your tennis racquet grip

The tennis racquet grip must be comfortable

Whenever holding a racquet, a player must make sure if he is comfortable with the racquet or not. The grip must be not too tight or too loose, but perfectly moderate. A good grip on the racquet may help the player is playing well and also prevents excessive or sudden strain on the elbow joint.

For enhancing the grip on the racquet, a band of suitable material must be wrapped around the handle of the racquet, so that it feels easy on the wrist.

2-Check the tennis racquet string tension

Tennis racquet string tension is an extremely important factor

The string tension is another factor that may possibly help in reducing the risks of tennis elbow. A very loose or very tight heavy string might cause strain on the elbow tissue and the possibility of damaged elbow tissue. Therefore the string selection should be wise and according to the strength of the player.

This is an extremely important topic, with its own dedicated post about it. What is the Average Price for Tennis Racquet Stringing, Types, and Their Differences?

3-Weight of the tennis racquet and ball

Consider using a standard length racquet with a flexible frame to reduce the vibrations while practicing or during tennis matches. Also, lowering the racquet string tension will reduce the pressure impact of the ball hitting the tennis racquet on the player.

Specially designed tennis racquets and balls are now available especially for players suffering from elbow sensitivity or tennis elbow specifically. These include the Wilson Clash 100 and Yones VCORE Pro.

4-Warm up exercises before the match

Before the match, if warm-up exercises are done, it ensures better flexible movement of the joints and assists the player in playing effectively. Properly Stretching the arm, neck, and shoulder would highly reduce the risk on any sprain in the joints or tissue damage.

Dynamic warmups and stretches before playing and normal stretches after playing are the key. See below helpful video:

5-Play Smart !

Always work on your technique! Make sure you are perfecting your swings and shots before trying to master other shots.

The Elbow joint must be protected at all costs, especially when all the work you have to do require the strength of your arm and hands.

6-Reducing weight lifting

Resting and sufficient recovery time are critical for muscle growth and improvement. If you are lifting weights or a regular gym person, you need to factor in the tennis game stress and the rest and recovery time required in your workouts.

Try to spread out the arms and chest days from tennis practice/ game days to allow recovery time.

7-Icing the elbow joint


Before the match and after the match, it is advised by the professionals to use ice on the elbow so that any soreness or any kind of slight pain is relieved.

Icing is very beneficial when the tennis elbow is at its initial level and will help in lessening the pain

8-Using elbow braces and sleeves

Most players use elbow braces to protect the joint form any sudden injury, thus keeping the arm joint at its correct location, and reducing risk of tissue damage in the arm. Elbow braces increases the functionality of the arm, and at the same time giving comfort to the arm.

Please be warry of the harms of prolonged use of braces and sleeves. (Tip No.15 below).

 Elbow brace comes in three categories:

Arm band which is tied just below the elbow joint, accommodates arm movement and flexibility, also reduces the stress on elbow. They also aid in reducing the inflammation in the tendon.

The Elbow pad and sleeve protect the visible knob-like bone, ensuring comfort and proper compression, support, and stabilization to the elbow. It also helps in maintaining the position of the arm while doing a swing shot.

A dual support elbow brace is another very effective brace, as it aims at protecting the whole elbow so that the tendons could rest and the players’ elbow is shielded from re-injuring and long-term damage.

9-Routine Exercises for arms

To prevent reaching the stage of pain in tennis elbow, some exercises must be done by almost every person who experiences slight pain in the elbow joint either due to lifting heavy weights or due to work load.

These few arm movements that must be performed regularly by the athletes to avoid elbow injury and strengthening the arm muscles are explained below:

Wrist flexors

Wrist Flexor

A simple exercise where you have to extend your arm forward with your palm facing the sky. Then gently bend your wrist such that your fingers face the floor. This has to be done until a warm sensation along with a slight stretch in the forearm is felt.

Doing it 2-4 times would be a good start.

Wrist extensors

Just like the wrist flexors, the arm is extended forward, and this time the palm faces downward. The other hand should assist in bending the wrist in such a way that fingers curl towards you. A slight stretch in the arm would strengthen the tendons.

Stretching fingers

Finger flexing includes the exercise of fingers by bending them in upward and downward motion one by one, ensuring flexibility and strength in the fist.

Pressing objects in hand

To ensure tight and strong wrist muscle, an exercise is conducted that involves placing, a not too hard not too soft object, like a ball in a persons’ hand, and trying to press or squeeze it with fingers which would exert pressure on the forearm tissues and hence activating them.

This video ahead might help you with even more exercises and will also assist you in knowing the proper way of performing these exercises:

10-Taking regular breaks:

Taking proper breaks especially during extensive practice days. Do not overstress your arms and grip.

11-Say no to repetitive tasks

Offset the impact of tennis training and matches by doing other exercises and training plans to reduce the stress on your arms and elbows.

12-Know your range

Play within the range of motion appropriate for your body and skill level. With time you can gradually improve both, however, hyper-extending your arms or attempting shots similar to other professional players will most likely backfire and might cause pain.

13- Even at the office!

Avoid working with a bent wrist

Keep your wrist straight as much as possible. Maintain your posture and do not be afraid from customizing your work place to make it more suitable for you.

14-Your seating position

Avoid leaning on the tip “point” of your elbow for long period of times.

15-Do not rush into sleeves or braces

Yes, you read it right. Although they are helpful, they may cause weakness in your joints and increased stiffness. This is augmented if used for a long period of time. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR and try to understand the root cause of your pain.

Treat the cause and not the symptoms

Treatment options for tennis elbow

Up to 90% of tennis elbow cases can be treated without the need for surgery. The most common non-surgical ways include:

  • REST – Taking some time off. You may also use a brace as described above.
  • Icing.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Specific doctor recommendations such as injections steroid injections or plasma injections.

As always, play safe and enjoy the game. To learn more about choosing a suitable racquet; What is the Best Tennis Racquet for Clay Courts? How to Choose and Buy one On a Budget? and How Much Does A Pro Tennis Racquet Cost? How to get one on a budget !

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