If there’s anything tennis players—both professional and amateur alike—fear most, its tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is the casual term used to describe a physical condition that occurs when you have either injured the muscle or tendon around your elbow or if you have overused the muscles and tendons in the elbow; this causes an inflammation of the area, which will result in discomfort and pain when attempting to use the elbow.
People who develop tennis elbow will find it painful to do even everyday activities, such as opening jars (which requires using the elbow to stabilize the wrist) or even lift items. Tennis elbow is believed to affect as many as 50% of tennis players—although the condition is not restricted to the sport of tennis or even sports at all.
Tennis elbow can heal on its own if you let the muscles rest and use support devices, such as braces. But the best way to heal tennis elbow is to avoid it entirely—here are some tips that will help you avoid tennis elbow while playing the sport.
Tip #1: Get adequate rest in between games
It’s one thing to participate in a 4-hour tennis tournament; it’s quite another to run out after the tournament and practice your game for another hour! Whenever you play a long round of tennis, make sure you rest for at least a day to give your muscles time to relax from vigorous use.
Tip #2: Exercise more
Believe it or not, you can help avoid tennis elbow by increasing your muscle strength! The stronger your muscles are, the better equipped they will be to avoid injury and the more they will be able to withstand a round of tennis. In between games, increase your physical activity, especially with strength training, to help your body become healthier and gain muscle in the process.
This is especially important for beginners or people who have been out of the game for a while. If you don’t play tennis for hours a day at this point–don’t go ahead and play for hours a day! You will need to slowly build up your stamina over weeks (or even months) before jumping right back into the game; suddenly playing tennis for hours after not playing for a while, or at all, can cause some significant injuries.