tennis woman player with injury holding the racket on a tennis court.

Are you doing these 5 things to prevent tennis elbow? 

Tennis elbow is a common concern for tennis players, whether they are new to the game or seasoned professionals. The good news is, that it’s incredibly easy to prevent. 

We caught up with sports and exercise medicine consultant Dr Natasha Beach, from OneWelbeck Orthopaedics in London, who shares her expert advice for staying fit this tennis season. Natasha works for the Lawn Tennis Association with some of the UK's top tennis players and has plenty of experience with dealing with this issue.

Below she shares five tips for preventing injury.

1. Pace yourself

"Tennis elbow can develop for many different reasons, ranging from a mix of poor technique, a change in surface or playing with wet or heavier tennis balls," Natasha reveals.

“My advice is to pace yourself. If you’ve had some time off from playing or are just beginning your tennis journey, then take it slowly in the early stages. Injuries can begin to peak if your body is not conditioned for the activity before endeavouring in regular sessions,” she says.

2. Tailor your racquet 

“You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds to get a good racquet – the most important thing is personalising it to you,” Natasha says. “Using suitable equipment means you’re less likely to strain your body. I’d recommend speaking to an expert who can offer you the guidance on what's best for you.” 

Things you’ll need to consider for your racquet are:  

  • Size – This depends on the height of the individual. A child using an adult racquet, for example, would inevitably affect their play and performance.

  • Grip – This is crucial to preventing injury. Everyone's hand size is different, and you need to have a grip that is the right size for yours. If your grip is a little small, you can add to it by placing an over-grip on top of your current grip.

  • Weight – Heavier racquets are believed to absorb more shock when making contact with the ball, reducing the impact on your arm. Avoid getting anything too heavy as this can put stress on your elbow.

Tennis player elbow taped with elastic therapeutic or Kinesio tape applied by nurse at orthopedic ward.

Booking a session with a professional coach to watch your technique can help to reduce the risk of tennis elbow. - Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Restring your racquet regularly 

String tension is a major factor in causing tennis elbow. “It’s an important step for regular players, as weaker strings will put more pressure on your arm when hitting,” Natasha says.  

“As a general rule of thumb, players can work out how often they should restring their racquets in a year by the number of times they play each week.” So, if someone plays tennis five times a week, then they should restring their racquets five times a year.

4. Wear suitable trainers 

Natasha suggests getting a quality pair of trainers with good grip, that are appropriate for court play.  

“You don’t need to buy specialist tennis shoes if you don’t play often, but a decent pair of supportive trainers is essential to enable you to easily travel on the court,” she explains.  

5. Get a coach to watch your technique 

“This applies to beginners and experienced players,” Natasha says. “Booking a session with a professional coach to watch your technique can help to reduce the risk of tennis elbow. They can advise how to modify your play to improve your technique.”

Examination of injured elbow of tennis player by an orthopaedic ward

OneWelbeck offers a variety of options to treat tennis elbow or any sports-related injury to help individuals get back to playing the sports they love. - Getty Images/iStockphoto

Symptoms of tennis elbow  

This can be, but is not limited to, experiencing pain: 

  • On the outside elbow area, ranging from an ache to a sharp sensation. 

  • On the forearm when turning handles or opening jars. 

  • When performing backhands or picking something up or even writing. 

What to do if you’re experiencing tennis elbow symptoms 

Natasha suggests taking Ibuprofen three times a day to reduce any inflammation and to avoid playing tennis for a week. If you see no improvement, consider getting it looked at by a therapist or doctor.

 “At OneWelbeck, we’ll begin by identifying the trigger, before moving to an examination and assessment,” says Natasha. “Sometimes, elbow pain can be the result of a trapped nerve in the neck, and once this is treated, it may go away. 

“For tennis elbow, we’ll do an ultrasound and offer pain relief to calm it down. If this doesn’t get to the bottom of your pain, we will arrange an MRI, X-Ray or CT scan to investigate things further.  

“I often encourage players to modify how they play for a few weeks, reducing the amount of backhands they hit, for example.” 

She explains that it’s a multi-factorial process, and individuals should be prepared to make some minor lifestyle changes during treatment. Patients will then attend rehab to improve their strength and fitness, enabling them to return to the game they love.

OneWelbeck Orthopaedics offers quick consultations and same-day diagnostics for sports and non-sports-related injuries. 

Visit onewelbeck.com/orthopaedics/ for more information on how to treat sports injuries. For bookings and enquiries, contact 0203 653 2002 or bookings.orthopaedics@onewelbeck.com


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