Tennis Elbow

This month’s blog is focusing on tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis); common patterns and regular solutions. Tennis elbow is pain where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony prominence on the outside of your elbow, and isn’t only experienced by those who play tennis; it can unleash itself upon absolutely anybody.

Your elbow is essentially the knee of the upper extremity; problems at the elbow are rarely elbow problems at all, but are in fact a side show to the wrist and shoulder. As always every case is unique, but here are two main patterns I find are a good place to start on the journey to alleviating this issue.

More often than not when it comes to tennis elbow grip issues are prevalent. The tendons surrounding the outside of the elbow become inflamed due to overcompensation for weak grip, if you notice your elbow pain when holding something heavy or shaking hands it’s likely grip is part of the issue. Is it enough to release the tendons of the elbow and strengthen grip? Sometimes yes, it often depends on the reasons for loss of grip strength, which nerves are involved and also an individual’s unique history.

At the other end of the elbow sandwich is the shoulder. If you have a history of shoulder problems and have since developed tennis elbow it is likely the answer to your pain lies here. A common reason for elbow pain is improper function and instability of the four rotator cuff muscles (shoulder stabilisers). Often the body braces for shoulder instability by tightening the muscles surrounding the wrist and those attaching to the outside of the elbow and in turn creating pain and tightness.

Looking at the problem on a more holistic level, shoulder positioning is closely linked to neck and ribcage position which can both be influenced by the mechanics of the pelvis and foot, so all of a sudden your elbow issue requires several solutions and areas of consideration. Does this mean that working on the area itself is irrelevant? Hell no! Does that mean that every elbow problem won’t go away unless all of these areas are corrected and aligned? Definitely not! Every case is different as each pain has a unique story of how it came to be. Knowing the map of the body just gives us more options to explore outside of the ‘obvious’.

Muscles which are often found lacking stability in cases of tennis elbow are the posterior rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder, follow the link for a very simple, yet effective strengthening exercise to try at home –

Should you need any further advice please feel free to get in touch and we can get started on your rehabilitation ASAP.

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