Please note: The following tennis elbow exercises are not to be started without the consent of your health care professional.
Welcome to tennis–elbowexercises.com. My name is Dr. Terry Zachary and my company put this site together to provide the most complete and modern tennis elbow exercises to those people looking for dependable advice for stabilizing the elbow. I am the developer of Handmaster Plus, a highly rated hand exercise product that conveniently delivers on 3 key aspects of elbow strengthening – the strength, balance and health of the hand, wrist & forearm muscles. These muscle groups are each key pieces of the puzzle in the tennis elbow exercise program to follow.
Over the last 20 years, I have seen the same information regarding tennis elbow exercises and information re-circulating. It was the lack of modern sensible information about the elbow that led me to designing Handmaster Plus and assimilating information about stabilizing the elbow.
Be sure to follow the suggested protocol for treatment if you are suffering from an active acute tennis elbow condition.
Starting Your Tennis elbow Exercises:
Below are the ‘Fab-5′ focused tennis elbow exercise categories (they may look complicated, but they are quite easy). View ‘More Videos’ panel to the right to see a demonstration of each exercise. Perform each 1-3 times daily to comfortable fatigue only. If pain is experienced, discontinue exercise and contact your health care professional:
2) Tennis Elbow Hand Exercises - using Handmaster Plus
3) Tennis Elbow Wrist Exercises – using Handmaster Plus
4) The Spiderman Exercise – using Handmaster Plus
5) Wax On Wax Off – using Handmaster Plus
Reminder: Tennis elbow exercises are only to be performed when the advising health care professional is confident that the joints, muscles and tissues involved are healthy enough for exercise.
Performing proper tennis elbow exercises is key for anyone who regularly uses their hands in grip related activities. These exercises are the center point of prevention of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). At the same time, all tennis elbow exercises are focused on strengthening and/or rebalancing the grip stabilizing muscles (the finger and wrist extensors) versus the finger flexor muscles. The balance between the muscles that close the hand (flexors) and the muscles that open the hand (extensors) are vital for both performance and inury prevention.
The symptoms of tennis elbow will occur mostly as a result of three common situations:
1) The user performs isolated repetitive gripping activities regularly but does no additional training. In this situation, tennis elbow is common because the finger extensor muscles (the muscles on the ‘back’ of the hand, wrist, forearm and elbow) contract regularly in a static manner (one position) in a grip stabilization role and thus become shortened – and easy to injure over time. In this common example, the person does not utilize tennis elbow exercises and usually has not been educated about the dangers of daily repetitive gripping. Eventually this person lifts and item awkwardly or participates in a sport or endeavor that requires strength and flexibility which they have not developed. The result is a tennis elbow injury.
2) The user attempts to exercise the hand, wrist and elbow – but does the wrong exercise. This usually means they exercise in repetitive grip only, for example using a spring-loaded or coiled hand exercise device, but pay no attention to the finger extensor and wrist extensor muscles. They develop imbalances from repetitive gripping and develop poor blood flow to the full range of the hand, wrist, forearm and elbow – and are again exposed to tennis elbow over time.
3) Users involved in grip sports or activities whereby there is physical stress inherently at the elbow. This could be high stress/ short impact sports such as tennis or golf or could be low stress/ long impact such as guitar or piano. Regardless, stabilizer muscles of the grip whose origins are located at the elbow are contracting repetitively and – if unopposed – are open to injury instantaneously and/or overtime.
That being said, some examples of activities where tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis are commonly seen are:
1) aggressive grip sports – golf, tennis, baseball, hockey, motocross/motorsports, martial arts, cricket, etc.
2) repetitive grip sports – auto-racing, motocross, jet ski, windsurfing, etc.
3) aggressive music/workplaces – trades people such as carpenters, massage therapists, drummers, etc.
4) repetitive music/workplaces – guitar, piano, wind instruments, cashier, computer workers, dental workers, surgeons, beauticians, truck drivers, etc.
Regardless of the cause of tennis elbow, tennis elbow exercises are vital for anyone in a grip related activity. Tennis elbow exercises also ensure maximum performance in the activity as the key grip stabilizer muscles will always be in a state of maximal tone, strength and balance and are sure to have excellent blood flow which is a key benefit for both health and performance. Exercises, including the “Wax On Wax Off” exercise (see link to video below) using Handmaster Plus are easy to do anywhere and address the demands of the lateral elbow in stabilizing aggressive repetitive grip activity and in preventing lateral epicondylitis.
(The ‘Wax On Wax Off’ exercise video link is available below and at the right panel)
In this exercise, the user will strengthen: 1) the muscles that close the hand (flexor & adductor muscles), as well as 2) all the muscles that open the hand (extensor muscles) and spread the fingers and thumb (abductor muscles), and 3) all of the muscles that extend the wrist (extensor muscles). Groups 2) and 3) are stabilizer muscles.
It is easiest for the user to remember the movie “Karate Kid” and the ‘Wax On Wax Off’ exercise given to the young student. The same exercise using Handmaster Plus is extremely effective in strengthening the stabilizer muscles of the hand, wrist, forearm and elbow. Here are the steps for this vital exercise:
1) squeeze the Handmaster ball for 1 second
2) open spread the hand against the resistance of the Handmaster cord for 1 second
3) with the hand open, rotate the wrist to the outside (ulnar deviation) for 1 second
4) with the hand closed, rotate the wrist to the inside (radial deviation) for 1 second
-repeat this exercise until you sense a comfortable fatigue (the should not take very long- usually 30 seconds to minute max to start)
If you are involved in a grip activity, tennis elbow exercises are key for you to be performing regularly not only for tennis elbow prevention, but also for maximum performance and enjoyment. Use this classic movie exercise is a super efficient way to train your grip stabilizer muscles.
The greatest role for tennis elbow exercises is in the role of prehabilitation and prevention. We developed the Handmaster Plus hand exercise device to be an easy patient compliance tool for hand, wrist, forearm and elbow prehabilitation exercises.
To be fiscally responsible in our healthcare we must change our mentality and identify the high risk activities that often lead to tennis elbow, a.k.a. lateral epicondylitis. When tennis elbow becomes acute or especially chronic, the changes to the tissues involved are advanced. Let’s not let our patients get to that point.
Tennis elbow exercises should be issued to all patients in high-risk grip related activities. This is what we call prehabilitation. The same tennis elbow exercises are key to the prevention of other hand, wrist, forearm and elbow imbalance conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, DeQuarvain tenosynovitis and golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), to name a few.
We have developed Handmaster Plus to be a complete and convenient solution for prehabilitation of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) conditions and other hand, wrist, forearm and elbow RSI injuries. You will be surprised how strong and stable you feel after using Handmaster Plus even for a few weeks. Handmaster Plus is easy to carry anywhere and couples many exercises into one. No more excuses for not doing your exercises!
Our two main exercises are designed to strengthen and balance the hand and wrist muscles, thus providing an environment for maximum stability and circulation. When the muscles of the hand, wrist, forearm and elbow are strong, balanced and enjoy healthy blood flow, they are very difficult to injure. When an individual who is at high risk for tennis elbow perorms these tennis elbow prehabilitation exercises, they can be ensured that their hand, wrist, forearm and elbow are healthy. The user can then focus on ergonomic positioning concerns and efficient performance techniques to ensure optimum hand, wrist, forearm and elbow health and stability.
The first exercise is referred to many times in this website and is the simple hand open/ hand closed exercise using Handmaster Plus. The user simply slips the thumb loop of the finger chords on the thumb and next slips the finger loops onto the fingers. The wrist is kept straight and the user simply 1) opens the hand fully for count 1 second against the resistance of the cord and then 2) closes the hand fully for count of 1 second against the resistance of the ball – and repeats until a comfortable fatigue is sensed. This usually takes 30 seconds to a minute. The Handmaster Plus hand open/hand closed exercise replaces 3 separate exercises and is thus made very convenient and simple to understand, leading to easy compliance.
Refer to our Tennis Elbow Hand Exercises blog post for more information.
The second exercise focuses on the finger extensor muscles and the wrist extensor muscles. The user 1) squeezes the ball for 1 second, then 2) (keeping the thumb on the ball) extends just the fingers for 1 second, and then 3) extends the wrist backwards for 1 second. The user repeats these three steps until they sense a comfortable fatigue, again usually about 30 seconds to 1 min.
Refer to our Tennis Elbow Wrist Exercises blog post for more information.
These two Handmaster Plus exercises greatly reduce the risk of tennis elbow in any sport, musical pursuits, workplace environment and any hobby.
It is also recommended that the person at high risk of tennis elbow regulary performs simple wrist extension and wrist flexion exercises using a small weight or can of beans or any of other such item that is appropriate.
Another excellent exercise to condition the lateral forearm and elbow is to grasp a hammer and slowly (as if in slow motion) mimic the motion of hammering a nail into a board. Use a full backswing as if to load momentum and a full follow through as if to pound the nail. One repetition should take approximately 5 seconds. Repeat until you experience comfortable fatigue.
A reminder, as with any exercise program, be sure you are cleared to participate by your health care professional. Discontinue any exercise if pain is felt and consult your health care professional.
Recently I had a client who was told by their physiotherapist not to do finger extension exercises as part of the recovery process from tennis elbow. It comes as a huge shock to me that people and professionals are still not realizing that specific tennis elbow exercises are necessary to address complete recovery as part of any tennis elbow treatment protocol.
The common extensor tendon that originates on the lateral epicondyle is aggravated in a tennis elbow condition, thus the term lateral epicondylitis. So, in fact, the muscles of the lateral forearm are defined within the core of the main definition of tennis elbow symptoms. Many healthcare professionals and lay people are shortsighted when it comes to the cause of tennis elbow. Many assume that the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle is the only muscle whose tendon is aggravated during tennis elbow. In my opinion this is very shortsighted and shows a misunderstanding of the mechanics of the cause of tennis elbow. Many also forget that there is even a tennis elbow cause to consider. These tendons do not inflame for no reason at all. Until the lateral forearm muscles are re-strengthened and re-balanced, the tennis elbow treatment is incomplete and is likely to remain unresolved or will reoccur throughout the patient’s life.
We must start to dig deep and observe that tennis elbow is rampant in grip related activities. We must start to explore the role of the finger extensor muscles in grip – they act as a stabilizer. The unique role of the finger extensor muscles as a stabilizer means that they contract in a very static manner (same position repetitively) and are thus open to becoming chronically shortened and stagnant – and easy to injure. When we couple the presence of shortened finger extensor muscles with: 1) aggressive extension (i.e. as in painting), forearm rotation (i.e. as in tennis) and/or aggressive axial stretching (i.e. as in golf), we have fertile grounds for the development of tennis elbow.
I suggest to all healthcare providers that if you are not already issuing finger strengthening and balancing exercises for your patients who are involved in repetitive grip activities (sports/music/ jobs/hobbies) that you should start to do so immediately. We have to start using tennis elbow exercises as a means of preventing tennis elbow (prehabilitation) and maximizing performance instead of as a means for rehabilitating tennis elbow after-the-fact. This is just good service to our patients!
We are just now starting to understand the role of the finger extensor muscles in tennis elbow. These muscles make up 2/5 of the common extensor tendon. Let’s start suggesting proper tennis elbow exercises for the wellness of our patients, friends & family members.
For those people suffering from an active acute tennis elbow condition, there are number of manageable steps to follow. These steps are indicated in order to make the condition manageable, and will also ensure that the condition is not worsened by aggressive activity or treatment. Tennis elbow exercises are not to be performed in an active acute condition. Ask your health care professional when rehabilitation exercises are appropriate.
In the short term, follow the ‘RICE’ protocol where R stands for ‘rest,’ I stands for ‘ice,’ C stands for ‘compress’ and E stands for ‘elevate.’ I always told patients to actually use the ‘RICES’ protocol, where the S stands for ‘stabilize’ or ‘support.’ Follow this protocol for 3-5 days after acute onset or until your health care professional recommends.
Anyone with an active tennis elbow must Rest the elbow. This means that they must rest the hand, wrist and forearm on the affected side. As you will see in this website, finger, thumb, hand, wrist and forearm muscles all contribute to the stability of the elbow, as all have direct muscle origins (or indirect muscle origins) at the elbow. The muscles that attach the elbow either act on or stabilize the activity of the thumb, fingers, hand, wrist and forearm. It is extremely easy to aggravate a tennis elbow condition by remaining active or challenging the stability of the aggravated elbow. Once aggravated, the condition can easily becoming chronic. Get tennis elbow corrected as early as possible to save a lot of time, headache and expense.
Ice is an essential first step in order to reduce the inflammation of the muscle, tendon and insertion point of the aggravated elbow. It is best to utilize a flexible commercial ice bag or even use a bag of frozen peas or corn. There is no need to place the ice directly on the skin. Instead, utilize a thin cloth to guard from skin damage or extreme discomfort. The tissues of the elbow are quite superficial and are easily iced. The ice will reduce the blood flow to the area and thus reduced the degree of tissue damage that occurs due to the natural inflammatory process.
Compressing the area has a similar effect as ice in that it will reduce blood flow to the area and thus reduces the degree of inflammatory damage. When icing, it is a good idea to wrap tensor bandage around the ice, thus acting as a compression function. The tensor bandage can be used to compress the elbow and forearm during the day. Wrap the bandage such that there is medium pressure in the forearm all the way to the elbow.
Elevating the elbow further reduces the blood flow and thus inflammatory damage to the injured elbow tissues.
I’m often asked if I think that Support (by bracing) is effective in tennis elbow cases. I can say clearly that I do believe bracing is vital in re-creating a stable elbow, especially during the acute phase, and also during treatment and rehabilitation. I want to be clear to delineate that I do not see bracing as a corrective mechanism, only as a protective mechanism. In other words, bracing the tennis elbow reduces the likelihood of re-aggravation but does not correct the underlying functional problem.
Tennis elbow treatment should be administered and monitored by a health care professional that is skilled in extremity treatment. I highly recommend exhausting all conservative treatment before ever considering invasive drugs (i.e. cortisone) or surgery. There are many skilled practitioners who deal with tennis elbow and other hand, wrist, forearm and elbow injuries regularly. I often find that these practitioners are not well known by the general public and thus conservative steps are often missed.
I highly suggest these three tennis elbow experts:
1. ART Practitioners - ART stands for Active Release Technique and is the premier extremity technique of choice for tennis elbow. ART practitioners are experts in anatomy and treatment of hand wrist forearm and elbow problems and can not only diagnose problems that they can correct the functional challenges that cause the problem. Find an ART Practitioner in your area.
2. Graston Practitioners -the Graston Technique is similar to ART in that the practitioners that perform the Graston Technique are highly educated on diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue injuries throughout the body. Find a Graston Technique practitioner in your area .
3. Chiropractors – A hugely overlooked treatment for tennis elbow is chiropractic adjustment of the radius (radial head) bone. Ask around for a chiropractor who does ‘extremity adjusting’ in your area. Chiropractic adjustment of the extremities is a key factor in alleviating extremity conditions for once and for all. Chiropractic adjusting of the extremities is, again, a little known skill to the general public – and can alleviate and correct the cause of extremity conditions for those who are properly informed.
Once the tennis elbow condition is considered stable by health care professional, it is essential to re-strengthen and rebalance the musculature that affects the stability of the elbow. It is vital to follow up with and maintain your proper tennis elbow exercises in order to maximize the performance and minimize future injury to the affected elbow joint.
Handmaster Plus makes proper and specific tennis elbow exercises fun, easy and super-convenient, allowing proper follow-up and compliance by the patient, whether an athlete, musician, worker or layperson.
If you have any questions about tennis elbow exercises using Handmaster Plus, please ask your health care professional or contact us directly at email@example.com.