What causes tennis elbow?
Tennis elbow, or in medical terms lateral epicondylitis, can be easily described as pain on the outside of the elbow when bending or straightening the arm.
The pain can sometimes extend into the forearm when grasping or lifting objects. Tennis elbow is a common injury within racket sports and can become so debilitating that players and athletes lose their grip strength.
What does tennis elbow feel like?
Tennis elbow is a hot burning pain in the forearm muscles closest to the elbow when gripping objects, like a cup or heavy bag.
Tennis elbow can also be a sharp shooting pain on the outside of the elbow when banged against a heavy object.
How to fix tennis elbow
There has been much debate and many exercises prescribed in order to find a tennis elbow cure.
Physiotherapists have a plethora of forearm stretches and strengthening exercises that have been administered throughout the years. They have also used forearm massage, trigger-point massage, acupuncture and various tennis elbow supports or straps to help alleviate the symptoms.
One of the best and instant cures is a trigger-point massage directly into the muscle belly of the extensor digitorum muscle just below the elbow. However, most people can’t deal with the pain of the treatment and it is sure to come back unless you deal with the imbalance of muscular activity associated with the condition.
The key to alleviating the symptoms is to become pain-free whilst the shoulder girdle and the rest of the muscular system can rebalance, therefore giving the overactive forearm extensor muscles time to relax. If this doesn’t happen within a short period of time, the extensor tendons can become chronically inflamed, which is described as a chronic tendinopathy.
Forearm and elbow compression have always been a favourite of mine; it’s like giving the muscles a big hug and allowing them to firstly support the grip and elbow movements and secondly allow the muscular aches to recover quicker after exercise.
The use of compression for tennis elbow in elite sport
I first came across the use of compression for injuries such as tennis elbow whilst working with a heavyweight boxer called Dominic.
Dominic had been training hard for his next fight and was struggling with the pain associated with the lateral epicondylitis.
It's very common to see this type of elbow pain in boxing gyms amongst boxers and their trainers. Trainers themselves suffer this type of injury from continuously using focus mitts whilst training their fighters. It’s very difficult in contact sports to wear a tennis elbow support or strap due to the laws of the game making such braces banned for safety reasons.
The use of compression within elite sport is widespread now, however nobody I came across had used the strength of compression that I had created with the iGD brand.
First of all, it's important to understand the reason for getting tennis elbow symptoms. It's a common theory that the extender tendons of the hand that attach themselves into the lateral epicondylitis become taut and overactive. This imbalance of muscular activity causes pain when bending and straightening the elbow or simply picking up objects like a cup. These muscles simply are unable to achieve normal contraction and relaxation and become hyperactive, creating too much tension at the site of the outside aspect of the elbow.
Boxers and trainers alike use massive forces in the forearms to either clench a fist or resist a punch thrown at the focus mitts they are holding.
Compression acts by rebalancing the muscular activity within the forearm. By isolating this area, I'm trying to create a balanced support system around the key muscle groups, therefore the rest of the muscular system can rebalance itself and the pain goes away. By wearing the compression after training the muscles are encouraged to repair quicker through improved vascular return, thus improving the symptoms associated with DOMS.