Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tennis Elbow

Ok. I have lots to catch up on and hopefully something really big in the next few weeks. I haven't quite completed that project just yet but when I do it'll be interesting. In the meantime, here is something that I think will be helpful to some folks. Please note that this blog does not constitute medical advice, I am merely reporting on my personal experience and what has worked for me. Your mileage may vary. Always consult your personal physician when in doubt. I don't know about you but it seems like when I hit my late thirties I started to get some of those things that I recall hearing "old people" complain about. I am referring to things like plantar fasciitis and tennis elbow. I wrote about the PF quite a bit before and I had a good result dealing with that. If you need to know more about that, hit me up via email or post a comment. Today I want to talk a bit about tennis elbow or what smarter people than me refer to as lateral epicondylitis. I don't know why exactly they call it tennis elbow. Most people who get it do not play tennis. That said, if you play tennis, there is a fairly good chance you may get it. Any repetitive motion involving the extensor muscles of the forearm can lead to it so feel free to insert your favorite masturbation joke here. I have had tennis elbow twice. The first time was a mild case a few years ago and it went away with some stretching and broomstick exercises. I developed it from too much rope climbing. The next time I developed it was much worse both in terms of severity and duration. I got it from rowing and I think it was more from rowing on the water than rowing on the erg. However, once it was present, even the erg bothered it. This really got bad in July of 2011. It kept me off the water for pretty much the rest of that summer and right about that time we moved so lots of excitement and very little rowing. I tried everything, the broomstick exercises, stretching, ultrasound, massage and I wasn't getting anywhere. After a thorough review of the medical literature I found something that looked promising. The device is called the "Theraband Flexbar". It uses eccentric strengthening to bring about a resolution to tennis elbow symptoms. My crude understanding of what goes on in this condition is that there is chronic injury to the tendons of the extensor muscles in the forearm. It is more of a tendinopathy than a tendinitis meaning that the tendon is not repairing itself correctly and tissue is not being repaired in the proper orientation. The eccentric loading of these tissues encourages the proper repair so that the pathological process is interrupted. The flexbar costs less than $30 and can be found on or local PT supply stores may have them. The corrective exercise is called the "Tyler Twist"  . Here is a link to the article . The goal is to work up to 3 sets of 15 reps. I used a green bar. The red one is too flimsy and the blue one is too stiff for most folks. The green seems to work fine for the majority of active people. It is important to stick with this because it will not work overnight but in most cases improvement is seen within a few days.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Don't Call it a Comeback...

I'm not sure if it is one or isn't. I announced to my wife that I was going to fire up the blog again and she said "you mean the kettlebell blog?'. I had to stop for a second because I don't have any other blog but I hadn't realized it was pretty much entirely devoted to kettlebells. For the past year and a half at least, my kettlebells have been collecting dust. I have still been training but just using other stuff like barbells, bodyweight drills, rowing (both on the erg and on the water), and running. This past summer I spent rowing on the water and training for a marathon which I ran in September. I suppose I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog if I am going to resurrect it. I do think it may be a worthwhile endeavor because I learnt a few things along the way and some readers (If I still have any) might find some useful info to help their own training. I really took a big vacation from kettlebells over the past couple years and I'd like to spend some time on that subject. While training for Ken Whethem's amazing Outlaw Kettlebell meet in May of 2011 I noticed significant pain and swelling where the body of the bell would rest on my left wrist. It got to the point where it would hurt to even touch it lightly. After the meet I completely gave up kettlebells and focused on rowing instead. The swelling persisted despite the kettlebell boycott. I showed it to a friend who is an orthopaedic surgeon and he thought it might be intersection syndrome from rowing but I told him rowing didn't bother it (although it did give me a wicked case of tennis elbow but thats another story). Eventually we just decided to stick a needle in it and a bunch of old blood came out. I probably bled into the tendon sheath and it just sat there. In spite of draining the fluid the area remains sensitive even now and the lightest kettlebells will bother it. I tried several different wrist guards and improvised ones like small shin guards under socks, I melted some pvc pipe to shape a guard but nothing worked well for me. The guards would shift too much under the bell and slide all over my arm. I really thought I had exhausted my options until I found this. This is an Evoshield wrist guard. I found this at Dick's Sporting Goods. You simply open the sealed bag that holds the insert, slide it into the neoprene sleeve, put it on, leave it on for about 30 min while it hardens in the shape of your wrist and you are all set. It doesn't slide around and it holds up well. It stood up to bells as heavy as 40 kg used for cleans and long cycle so it seems durable. This isn't cheap though. One of these will set you back about $25 but for me it is well worth it to be able to get back to doing long cycle which is the the duck's nuts when it comes to exercise. If your wrists are bothering you from kettlebells you might want to give this a try. In any case I plan on getting back into some long cycle and possibly doing more with this blog.