Out of all the possible risk factors listed above, the most important factor to consider is technique. There are players who have used a stiff racket and string combination for years and have never had an issue with golfers elbow.
Your tennis coach will be able to make changes to your technique that lead to power generation from the legs, transfer of power through the kinematic chain, and make contact with ball in a better position.
The next step would be to evaluate the player’s biomechanics and work on treating and rehabilitating any issues that are found.
Stubborn cases of golfers elbow may require some equipment changes. That might mean changing to a different racket with a higher flexibility rating or a softer string, or just replacing your old worn out tennis grip more frequently.
The role of the healthcare professional
In the clinic we take tennis players through the 14 physical screening tests that were developed by RacquetFit. These tests help us identify limitations in a players biomechanics. We use the findings of these tests to guide our rehab prescription to correct those issues. For example, we might identify an ankle mobility issue that is affecting the player’s ability to generate power from the ground, causing them to compensate higher up the kinematic chain.
Our go-to treatment method for treating golfers elbow in the clinic is shockwave therapy. Shockwave therapy uses high-energy acoustic pressure waves that promote the regeneration and repair of tendons and muscle. It causes an increase in collagen synthesis and reduces tendon pain. It also promotes the formation of new blood vessels that increase the blood supply to the injured tissue.
Dry needling can help release trigger points in the muscles of the forearm. However, this is not the treatment of choice for tendons or the pronator teres muscle due to their close proximity to major nerves and blood vessels near the elbow.
The application of a biomechanical tape such as Dyanimc Tape can help absorb some of the load placed on the wrist flexor and pronator tendons. This can be especially useful to manage the strain on the wrist flexor tendons during an acute flare-up of golfers elbow.
Rehabilitation exercises for golfers elbow
Tendons respond well to eccentric loading. An effective way to eccentrically load the wrist flexor muscles and tendons is by performing an exercise called the “tyler twist” with a rubber flex bar.
This takes a bit of practice to get right but once you understand the movement, it becomes a really effective way of allowing the muscle to lengthen while under tension (eccentric contraction).
Aim for 3 x sets of 10-15 reps daily. Progress to a stronger flex bar when you can easily perform the prescribed number of sets & reps.
You may have the perfect technique and correct racket setup but muscles and tendons still need time to repair and recover. The body has an amazing ability to compensate up until a point. Pain is usually the last symptom and is an indication that the body is unable to compensate any further.
Every player’s physiology is different and the amount of load that their body is able to handle before pain or injury occurs is affected by various external factors such as diet, sleep & stress. This is where a collaborative effort between your tennis coach, strength & conditioning and healthcare professionals is vital.
We’ve helped a number of tennis players at our Brisbane practice. If you need help treating or figuring out what’s aggravating your elbow pain or if you want to understand how your biomechanics could be affecting your tennis game, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to assist you in getting back on the court.