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Tennis elbow, anyone?

Of course, the expression is actually, “tennis, anyone?” Yet if you are a regular player or a weekend warrior, your game can suffer mightily from a case of tennis elbow or elbow tendinitis. There are some steps you can take to lessen the chance of getting tennis elbow or mitigating the discomfort if you currently have it.

“Tennis elbow is a tightening of the tendon in your elbow and forearm, which typically stems from a repeated motion like swinging a tennis racket,” said Dr. Michael Gottfried, president of the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island and chiropractic physician at Aquidneck Chiropractic in Middletown, Rhode Island. “Much like spasms in your lower back can be a byproduct of your entire spinal alignment, tennis elbow reflects the elasticity of the tendon from your wrist to your upper arm.”

As a preventative measure and prior to playing, Dr. Gottfried recommends a few simple stretches. For example, extend your arm out in front of you with your palm up. Bend your wrist with your hand pointing to the floor. With your other hand, gently bend your wrist a little further toward the floor and hold for 15 seconds to half a minute. Repeat this two to four times.

Repeat this exercise again, only with your palm facing the floor. Using the other hand, bend your wrist toward the floor. Again, hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times.

“Stretching certainly helps but you really want to strengthen the area as well,” said Dr. Gottfried.

For strengthening, Dr. Gottfried recommends squeezing a tennis ball or rolled up pair of socks in intervals (e.g. squeeze for five to six seconds and then rest for 10 seconds and repeating about a half dozen to a dozen times. To prevent an imbalance of strength, repeat this exercise with your opposite hand.

“For a tennis player, form is key. If your form is off, not only does it impact your game, it can cause injury,” said Dr. Gottfried. “Having lessons from a certified tennis instructor can let you know if your swing is or isn’t the problem.”

Treatment for tennis elbow can vary. Some use the RICE method—rest, ice, compression and elevation. Dr. Gottfried offers that tennis elbow can addressed as part of chiropractic treatment.

“Your spine’s alignment impacts every part of your body, including your shoulders and arms. For tennis elbow, we can also address the tendon and scar tissue with some stretching and adjustments to have you feeling better in fairly short order,” said Dr. Gottfried.

If you are not currently seeing a chiropractor and want to explore how chiropractic can benefit your overall condition and tennis fame, you can utilize the “Find A Doctor” feature on the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island’s website, www.richiro.org.

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