The typical treatments of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories might help relieve the symptom, but are doing nothing about the cause of the pain.
Tennis elbow effects about 40% of tennis players some time in their life but only 1 in 20 people with tennis elbow play tennis. Tennis elbow is much more likely to effect recreational players than professionals and is most common in the 40-60 year old age range. These statistics tell us there must be something else causing tennis elbow than just playing tennis and the term "overuse" must not be the whole story.
What advantage do professional tennis players have over your average recreational player? First professional tennis players spend their entire day doing what it takes to play tennis at the highest level. This includes doing strength training exercises and stretching and range of motion movements that together keep their bodies fairly functional, flexible, and strong allowing their bodies to handle the demands of the sport. They also play tennis daily for many hours and pay particular attention to their technique which trains their body to move in an efficient and smooth way on the court.
The average recreational player is a lot less flexible than most professional players as Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova demonstrate:
You can do a simple self test of shoulder position by standing in front of a mirror with your arms in a relaxed position. Here are several thing to look for:
- Are your hands hanging in front of your body rather than on the sides of your body? This would mean your shoulders are rounded forward.
- Do you see the back of your hands in the mirror instead of your thumb and index fingers only? If so, your arms are in an internally rotated position.
- Is one hand or shoulder lower than the other? Often your right arm will be lower if you are right handed (and left lower if you're left handed) and this means you have developed imbalances between the right and left side of your body.
If you found any of these imbalances in your posture it means you have shoulder dysfunction that is not allowing your shoulder(s) to do their job while playing tennis (or doing anything else) and this can lead to increased work demand and stress put on your elbow, wrist and hands.
Correcting your shoulder position through Postural Alignment Therapy will allow your shoulder to do it's job correctly and allow your tennis elbow to heal and you to play pain free again.