Pickleball: Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
What is Lateral Epicondylitis?
“Tennis Elbow” is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles due to poor body mechanics and overuse, leading to pain, micro-tearing, inflammation, and weakness of the forearm extensor muscles. This condition can be debilitating, as it can affect a person’s ability to perform daily activities as well as their recreational activities. Those most commonly affected by tennis elbow are people aged 30-50 years old.
Symptoms of tennis elbow or pickleball elbow include:
- Pain on the outside of your elbow and on the boney knob part of your elbow;
- Soreness, weakness and pain radiating to your forearm and wrist; and
- Difficulty gripping your pickleball paddle, shaking hands, turning a doorknob, holding a mug or lifting an object.
- Stop and Rest – If you are already suffering from tennis elbow, it is important to listen to your body and take time to rest between games/activities especially if your elbow is feeling tender.
- Ice – To reduce swelling (if any), ice your elbow for 10-15 minutes at a time every 2-3 hours. Be sure to put a cloth or other material between your skin and the ice to reduce risk of burns.
- Fix your Body Mechanics!
Many common mistakes seen in players with tennis elbow are players who rely too much on their wrist for that added snap at the end of each swing. This places too much stress on your tendons. Instead, players should focus on getting power from their shoulder – not their wrist! This will make your swing more efficient and place less stress onto your tendons, overall reducing risk of injury. Focus on building stability and strength through your rotator cuff and periscapular muscles.
- Use an Elbow Brace – Try using an elbow brace to help protect the elbow from further injury and to help reduce stress off the tendons.