Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is characterized by inflamed tendons that join the muscles of the forearm on the outer elbow. The tendons and muscles sustain damage from overuse or repetitive motions.
Important: Consult a medical professional before attempting any of the following exercises. It is important to get examined first to make sure you don’t have any serious injuries, such as a tendon or muscle tear, that may worsen your condition.
Why Perform Tennis Elbow Exercises?
These tennis elbow exercises can help improve the function of and strengthen the muscles in your forearm.
1. Fist Clench
One of the most common symptoms of tennis elbow is a weak grip. This fist clench exercise should help you strengthen your grip. Note that you need a towel and a table for this.
Sit on a chair and rest your forearm on the table.
Roll the towel and hold it in your hand.
Squeeze your towel and hold this position for 10 seconds.
Release the towel and repeat 9 more times.
Switch to your other arm.
2. Wrist Extension
This exercise works the tendons and forearm muscles to reduce pain. You need a chair and a two-pound dumbbell. If there is no dumbbell, a bottle filled with water can work as an alternative.
Sit on a chair and hold the two-pound dumbbell with your palm facing down and your hand resting on your knee.
Keep your palm face down and extend the wrist by curling it downward. You can also perform the exercise without a weight if it proves too difficult.
Repeat the exercise 10 more times for each hand.
Try as much as possible to isolate your movement to your wrist while keeping the rest of your arm still.
3. Wrist Flexion
This exercise works the wrist flexors which work opposite the wrist extensors. Both muscle groups are integral for moving your wrist. You need a two-pound dumbbell and chair for this.
Sit on the chair and hold the two-pound dumbbell with your palm facing upwards and your elbow resting on your knee.
Extend your wrist by curling it upward.
Repeat the exercise 10 times for each hand.
Keep the movement isolated to your wrist, and try to keep the rest of your arm still while performing the exercise.
4. Wrist Turn
Performing this exercise relieves tension and relaxes the muscles in the forearms. It can be done anywhere.
Bend your right elbow to a 90 degrees angle with the palm facing up.
Turn your wrist slowly to the left and position your palm to face down.
Hold the position for 5 seconds and release slowly.
Repeat 10 times.
Repeat the steps above with your other hand.
5. Towel Twist
The towel twist is a strengthening exercise which works the wrist flexors and extensors. You need a towel and a chair.
Note: Avoid wringing your towel too hard.
Sit down and hold the towel with both hands. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
Start twisting the towel using both hands in the opposite directions.
Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
Repeat the steps above 10 times with each hand.
6. Supination with Dumbbell
The supinator muscle allows you to turn your palms up and is also the most affected in a tennis elbow injury. The exercise helps to strengthen and relax this muscle.
Note: Make sure that the dumbbell is only 1 or 2 pounds in weight. You may use a table to rest your hand on while performing the exercise.
Sit down and rest your elbow on top of your knee while holding the dumbbell vertically with your hand.
Rotate the wrist while turning your palm upwards.
Rotate the wrist once more and bring your palm downward.
Repeat 15-20 times.
Repeat the steps above with the other hand.
7. Finger Extension
This simple exercise strengthens your forearm, wrist, arm muscles, and elbow. You will need a broad rubber band.
Note: Do not overdo or rush this exercise.
Shape your fingers into a beak.
Place the rubber band over your fingers to bind them together
Move your fingers outward and inward.
Repeat the steps above 10 times.
Other Tips for Treating Tennis Elbow at Home
Use a cold compress to reduce the swelling and pain. Apply for 20-30 minutes every four hours for the first three days.
Wear an elbow strap to protect the tendons from more strain.
Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs can ease the pain of tennis elbow. Medicine such as naproxen and ibuprofen can be purchased over the counter. Be sure to consult your doctor first before taking any medication to avoid unwanted side effects.
Braces, when worn in your forearm, can take pressure off the tendons for relief.
Splints for the wrist can be worn at night to allow the tendons and muscles to rest.
Wanna learn more exercises for tennis elbow? Watch this video from Dr. Jose Guevara:
In the end, performing tennis elbow exercises can help you strengthen your muscles to prevent the condition from reoccurring. The exercises are easy and can be done almost anywhere with minimal equipment required. But, be sure to consult with a doctor first before attempting the exercises to prevent complications and to find the optimal exercises for you.
Which exercises do you perform for tennis elbow? Tell us in the comments section below!