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.

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