Tennis Elbow is considered as a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) the first precaution is to rest the elbow so that it can begin to heal itself. The most common movements leading to tennis elbow are repetitive motions or very strong gripping movements, squeezing objects and heavy lifting. The rehabilitation process is divided into 3 phases each phase is with a different goal and objective.
Exercise Phase 1
The decreasing inflammation and pain, tissue healing and muscle atrophy comes under acute stage. In this stage of injury, the R.I.C.E principle is followed.
R: – R stands for Rest.
I: – I stand for Ice, Icing the affected area is the most recommended remedy for pain. Ice helps to slow down local metabolism in the elbow.
C: – C stands for Compress.
E: – E stands for Elevate, to keep the swelling as light as possible there are two powerful tools, one is compression and the other one is elevation. Compression works by minimizing the volume whereas Elevation takes advantage of the natural forces of gravity to assist venous return of the fluid causing the swelling.
Exercise Phase 2
As the elbow has been healed, it is necessary to begin working to increase strength and endurance in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The first activity to start with is Stretching. During the gentle stretching exercises, it is essential to increase the range of motion while wrist flexion, wrist extension and wrist rotation. It is certain that the elbow should be extended and the arm is kept straight in order to increase the range of the stretch. Hold each stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds, but only up to the point of comfortable motion. Strengthening exercise is also supportive to wrist and elbow. Wrist flexion, wrist extension, forearm pronation/supination, finger extension with rubber band and ball squeeze are some of the strengthening exercises.
Exercise Phase 3
Phase 2 focuses on gradually increasing the work capacity of the elbow. Phase 3 begins gradually incorporating the movements of the sport. During phase 3 exercise, it is necessary to continue stretching and strengthening exercise from phase 2. Some tennis players can develop tennis elbow most commonly in their dominant arm.
Work Load Progression:
Week 1 – 15 minute’s forehand only
Week 2 – 30 minute’s forehand only
Week 3 – 30 minute’s forehand and two handed backhand