Physical therapy exercises can improve your elbow strength and flexibility, and aid a full recovery from common injuries, including tennis elbow. Your injury can get better on its own, however, in the case that it doesn’t, there are many sports medicine specialists in Sugar Land and Houston, TX, that can provide physiotherapy, surgery, and advice regarding treatment. Dr. J. Michael Bennett specializes in minimally-invasive surgical options that can be done on an outpatient basis, as well as conservative treatment methods like muscle strengthening.
Dr. Bennett recommends non-surgical treatments for tennis elbow before considering the possibility of elbow surgery, such as counterforce braces, non-prescription pain medication, ice, and rest, as well as physical therapy exercises.
Unlike the name suggests, you can get a tennis elbow from a whole range of activities that require a gripping and twisting motion, such as all types of racquet sports, overusing garden shears, paint rollers, or screwdrivers, as well as many forms of manual labor. Tennis elbow is the term for swollen tendons in your arm that may cause pain in your wrist, forearm, and outer elbow.
One of the most straightforward exercises to do is a ball squeezing exercise that can be tailored according to your pain threshold. You can try using a soft rubber ball, stress ball, or tennis ball, and if these cause you pain, you can transition to more malleable objects such as sponges or a ball of socks.
Hold your chosen object in your hand, squeeze and release. You can do this up to 20-25 times per session. It’s recommended this stretch is done three times a day, transitioning between harder and softer objects as required by your pain levels.
To complete a wrist turn, start with your arm bent at a right angle with your elbow at your side, to create an L shape. Hold your hand out, palm side up. Turn your hand over so that your palm is now face down and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times throughout the day.
As your arm strengthens, you can switch to holding your wrist overturned for up to 30 seconds, and cut down the number of repetitions to between 5 and 10.
Wrist Extensor Stretches
A wrist extensor stretch will start with your arm held out in front of you as straight as possible, with your palm face down and fingers outstretched.
Take your other hand and lift the fingers on your affected arm and bend them back towards your body until you feel the tension in your forearm. Keep this position for approximately 15 seconds, release, and repeat 3-5 times.
As with the wrist turn exercise, you can switch up the length and repetition, doing 30-second stretches instead of 15 seconds. With this exercise, you can work your way up to increased repetitions as your strength allows, e.g., complete 5-10 repetitions while holding for 30 seconds each time.
Wrist Flexor Stretches
This is similar to the previous stretch, but you start with your palms face up.
Hold your arm straight out in front of you, palms facing upwards, and grasp your fingers with your other hand. Pull your fingers back towards your body until you can feel the tension in your forearm.
Hold this position for 15 seconds and repeat 3-5 times as before. Complete this exercise 3-5 times per day, working your way up to holding for 30-second intervals for 5-10 repetitions.
Once you’ve mastered and can comfortably complete these techniques, you’ll be ready to start on additional forearm strengthening exercises using light weights, such as dumbells or tools.