Physical therapists at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York City report that eccentric exercises offer a simple and effective cure for tennis elbow (July 2009 annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine). The researchers prescribed standard physical therapy for tennis elbow to 10 patients, and physical therapy plus special eccentric exercises to 11 others. In less than two months the eccentric group reported an 81 percent improvement in pain and a 72 percent improvement in strength, while the control group had not improved.
(Eccentric contractions occur during a biceps curl when you lower the weight and your biceps lengthens. Concentric contractions occur when you raise the weight and your biceps muscle shortens.)
You don't have to play tennis to develop tennis elbow. It can be due to any movement that puts excessive force on the wrist muscles. Tennis elbow refers to elbow pain as the result of an injury to the elbow tendons that bend and straighten the wrist. Hold your hand down with your thumb on the outside (lateral to your hand) and your elbow straight. Pain on the lateral (outside) part of your elbow is called backhand tennis elbow. Pain on the medial (inside) part is called forehand tennis elbow.
The exercise is done with an inexpensive piece of equipment called the Thera-Band Flexbar, available at www.Amazon.com. Hold the bar upright with your hand of the affected side. With your hand of the healthy side, grasp the bar near the top and twist it in front of the body. Then use the sore elbow-side hand to slowly untwist the bar by flexing the wrist. Video of the exercise