The more you play, the more
you have to pay attention to the causes and prevention of Tennis
Elbow. To play your best, you must play without pain. If you
goal is to play a lot of tennis at your full potential, Tennis
Elbow is your enemy. Do everything you can to understand it and
What It Is
Tennis Elbow is a form of tendonitis. It is the result of
overuse or repetitive motion that aggravates the tendons in the
elbow. Shock or vibration combined with repetitive motion can
also lessen your tolerance and accelerate inflammation.
You don’t’ even have to play tennis to get Tennis Elbow.
That means you can also make it worse without even playing. Pay
attention to your activities off the court. It might come from
working at a computer, scanning bar codes, weight lifting, yard
work, or even knitting. There is risk with any activity that
involves epetitive motion or muscle fatigue. It matters even
more if you’re already in pain or playing frequently.
Recipe for Chronic Arm Problems
Developing and sustaining arm pain is a simple process.
To get started, play with pain as long as you possibly can. Push
on as the discomfort increases and gradually weakens your game.
See a doctor when you can’t take it any more. That’s when
you’ll learn that you need a lot of time to recover. Your
doctor may tell you to take as much as one month off for every
month you played with the problem.
Then comes the easiest part. Just go back to playing tennis too
soon. After all, your arm will feel better weeks before you’re
supposed to start playing again. For maximum effect, be sure not
to make any changes in your technique or equipment. Repeat as
Trying to play through Tennis Elbow can bring your game to a
slow and grinding halt. Worse yet, what you let go for a long
time may take an equally long time to heal. You may shorten your
recovery substantially by taking action as soon as you notice a
problem. If you’re in pain, get help. See a doctor. Have a pro
look at your stroke mechanics. Evaluate your equipment set-up.
Putting the Tennis in Tennis Elbow
Consider yourself lucky if you got your Tennis Elbow playing the
game. At least you were having fun! The search for non-medical
tennis-related solutions begins with an evaluation of your
technique and then your equipment.
Technique First, Gear Second
If the way you’re hitting the ball is the cause of your arm
problem, no amount of equipment changes will save you. In most
situations, a pro can show you what you’re doing wrong in a
one hour lesson or less. Best of all, getting professional
instruction on mechanics may save your arm and improve your game
at the same time.
Evaluating Your Equipment
Gear matters too. Equipment adjustments and changes can also
bring relief. Your goal is to reduce the vibration, shock and
torque. This is what causes inflammation in wrist or arm
tendons. Careful selection of racquets and strings can improve
the situation or help you avoid problems.
Use a Soft String
A soft feeling string will cushion the impact of the ball by
absorbing more shock and vibration. Natural gut is the best
possible choice. Some synthetics work much better than others.
See our list of recommended strings for Tennis Elbow.
Make the Sweet Spot Bigger
Bigger sweet spot = hitting more balls in the sweet spot = less
vibration. Try using a lower string tension. A 2 – 3 pound
reduction in tension noticeably enlarges the sweet spot. If you’re
looking at making a racquet switch, remember that racquets with
a larger head size will have a larger sweet spot too. Consider
moving up a size.
Restring More Frequently
String performance declines with age as well as wear. Generally
speaking, string performance declines even faster in outdoor
playing conditions. Dead strings require your arm to exert more
force to produce power. The most arm friendly strings are fresh
Players with chronic arm problems or severe pain should consider
a racquet switch. Where racquets create arm problems, it comes
from extra length, light weight, stiffness, or some combination
of the three. Eliminating or preventing a problem means choosing
a frame that is opposite or at least moderate in those
Consult with an Equipment Expert
Talk to an equipment expert who has the in-depth knowledge to
compare what you’re using now with the latest racquets.
Product offerings change constantly.
Old Rules Give Way to New Technology
Sometimes new technology changes the rules as we knew them
before. The old rules said arm-friendly racquets were standard
length, flexible and relatively heavy.
Today, the universe of arm-friendly racquets also includes some
lighter and more powerful racquets too. Their numbers are
growing. Racquet manufacturers are using new designs and new
technologies to redefine what an arm-friendly racquet can be.
And what it can do.
We expect to see a steady flow of other new models representing
new thinking about arm-friendly racquets.