• It’s All in the Swing: Preventing Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow

      In our last newsletter, we talked about the range of outdoor activities that spring’s warm weather affords. A bad case of tennis or golfer’s elbow, however, can seriously dampen the enjoyment in a round on the course or a friendly rally on the court.

      Tennis elbow is the result of micro-tears to the tendon that originates from the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow, known as the lateral epicondyle.  Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, affects 1% to 3% of the population as a whole, but gets its name from the fact that it affects almost half of all tennis players at some point in time.

      Golfer’s elbow is similar, but its discomfort is due to microtears affecting the tendon located at the inside of the elbow. Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, affects mostly golfers, but weight lifting, gardening, or other activities that strain this part of the elbow can cause this condition in non-golfers alike.

      As always, the best form of treatment is prevention. Whether you feel the onset of soreness or simply want to maintain a pain-free routine, these three short tips are focused on preventing both conditions from slowing you down, and keeping you in the swing of things, literally.

      1) First and foremost, proper conditioning, through a regimen particular to the forearm, is necessary to keep your forearm muscles limber, strengthened and stretched. It is these muscles that absorb most of the strain when you swing the racket or club. Additionally, working on your core muscles allows for your body to absorb extra shock from the repetitive movements of these sports.

      Take some practice swings before you start a game. If you haven’t played in a while, make sure that you start slowly before trying to burn a hole through your opponent’s racket, or blasting that golf ball over 300 yards.

      2) The right equipment will significantly reduce the strain on your tendons and muscles. For tennis, be sure to take your racket in to be restrung if its been sitting in the closet all winter, and talk to a pro about the right measurements. If the racket’s grip is too big or too small or if it is too heavy or too light, the extra force required of your forearm leads to increased strain in those muscles. Similarly, if the strings are loose or improperly tensioned, then these small amounts of force can quickly add up and cause additional stress and strain.

      Before going out on the golf course, talk to a professional about what works best for your physique and skill level. The proper length of the club helps keep a smooth swing and reduces muscle strain, while the correct weight limits the power required for a good shot.

      3) Finally, have a professional assess your technique to ensure that you’re not placing undue stress at any point in your game. In tennis, most of the strain for tennis elbow occurs from the backhand; by following the proper movements, it is possible to spread out the force evenly, while sparing your elbow’s outer tendon. Similarly, while golfing, you may have the proper equipment, but that doesn’t always mean that your grip is correct, or that your stance is conducive to pain-free movements. If you haven’t played throughout the winter, have a pro take a quick look to make sure that you’re executing the proper movements.

      Then go out there and have some pain-free fun! But if you still have an ache, please see our list of services to learn how we can help. Our expertise ranges from sports medicine, arthroscopic and minimally invasive surgery to physical medicine and rehabilitation among others.