Tennis Elbow: The Single Best Exercise

Have you been told you have tennis elbow?  Well, you don’t have to play tennis to get this painful condition.  In fact, most people who have tennis elbow do not regularly pick up a racket.  About 3% of adults will end up with tennis elbow.  Office workers and laborers often battle with chronic elbow pain.  Rest, braces, and steroid injections provide some temporary relief.  But to truly get rid of your elbow pain, the right exercises are needed.  This article will teach you about the single best exercise for tennis elbow.

An Exercise Proven to Help Tennis Elbow

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Hand Therapy compared the benefits of 3 different exercises in 34 people with tennis elbow.  The first group did eccentric exercises that focused on slowly lowering weights from an extended wrist position.  The second group did a combined eccentric and concentric exercise that included both lifting and lowering weight.  The final group performed a concentric-eccentric exercise combined with a sustained isometric hold for 45 seconds.

All participants performed their respective exercises 5 days per week.  After 4 weeks, the eccentric-concentric training combined with an isometric hold showed the largest improvements in pain and function.  Even better, after 8 weeks the combined training group reported 75% improvement in pain and more than 100% improvement in function.

How to Do The Best Exercise for Tennis Elbow

Sit with your elbow resting on a table.  Position your forearm in a palm-down position.  Start with your wrist in a cocked or extended position (as high as possible) and your hand hanging over the edge of the table.

From this position, bend your wrist down slowly while counting to 30.  Then, at a normal pace return to the starting position (an extended wrist).  In the starting position, maintain an isometric hold for 45 seconds. After the isometric hold repeat the sequence.  Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.  Take a 1-minute rest between each set.

Start with light weights or 1 to 2 pounds.  Mild pain (5/10 or less) is acceptable and to be expected.  As your pain diminishes, increase the weight by 1 pound as long as you can still do 15 reps each set. Do the exercises for at least 4 weeks.  However, do them for quite a bit longer if you want to be pain-free.

For a Speedy Recovery, See Your Physical Therapist

Tennis elbow can take a year or more to resolve on its own. In many people, their condition becomes chronic with exacerbations every few months.

Your physical therapist will prescribe the right exercises to meet your goals.  Also, physical therapists perform soft tissue and joint mobilization techniques to decrease your acute pain.  Call BSR and schedule an initial evaluation with your physical therapist.


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