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Elizabeth Quinn

A Simple Exercise Relieves Tennis Elbow Pain

By July 15, 2009

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If you suffer from tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), listen up. A new, more effective, treatment may help you get faster pain relief. A study presented at the annual American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting showed that adding one simple home-based exercise to traditional tennis elbow treatment resulted in immediate and significant improvement in tennis elbow pain. The results were so dramatic, in fact, that the researchers stopped the study because they wanted everyone in the study to get this more effective treatment.

Eccentric Wrist Extensor Exercise
The exercise that had this dramatic effect was a simple eccentric wrist extensor movement using a flexible rubber bar. The exercise involves twisting a rubber Flexbar with one hand and resisting the bar as it untwists using the injured arm. The result is an eccentric contraction (movements that cause muscle to contract while it lengthens) of the wrist extensor muscles on the injured forearm. Eccentric contractions increase tension on a muscle as it opposes a stronger force, which causes the muscle to lengthen as it contracts.

In this study, the patients performed 3 sets of 15 repetitions per day and increased the intensity at regular intervals.

If you have tennis elbow, ask your physical therapist to show you how to do this exercise at home.

Compare prices: Thera-Band FlexBar


Tyler TF, et al. Addition of a novel eccentric wrist extensor exercise to standard treatment for chronic lateral epicondylitis: a prospective randomized trial. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 2009 annual meeting.

August 19, 2009 at 10:43 am
(1) Alex says:


Can you describe exactly how to perform this exercise? Such as, do I straighten my arms? How long do I “hold” the twist?



August 24, 2009 at 5:43 pm
(2) Arun says:

Hi Alex,

Take a look at http://www.thera-bandacademy.com/elements/clients/docs/TylerFlexBarProtocol__200907DD_010930.pdf

I’ve been suffering from Tennis Elbow for about a year now and been reinjuring myself everytime I play tennis when the pain reduced. Now that I’ve been doing the exercise with the Flexbar for a 3 weeks now, the improvement is dramatic. I even felt pain free that I went out and player Tennis twice but the pain came back the every time the next day, but not as intense as before beginning the exercises.

If I can kick the addiction to tennis and just keep up the exercises, I’m fairly confident I can beat the tennis elbow by the end of this year.


August 28, 2009 at 6:22 pm
(3) golfers elbow says:

How do you use this bar to treat golfer’s elbow (i.e. how would you modify the exercise?)

August 30, 2009 at 9:42 am
(4) sportsmedicine says:
September 12, 2009 at 9:18 am
(5) Bruce says:

Was the pain increased following commencement of these exercises? I have painful tennis elbow, but rested it for two weeks before starting with thera band. When I started, my arm was very sore the next day. Do you keep going or is that not normal?

November 29, 2009 at 5:20 am
(6) Andrew says:

Anyone finding the tennis elbow exercises a little hard to understand like me should find this site helpful. It has step by step instructions plus what not to do. It also has the youtube video.

December 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm
(7) Arun says:


I had pain or more aptly soreness after the exercises, but not that much that I can’t resume the flexbar exercises. If you have a very bad tennis elbow, you should probably wait until the inflammation or pain is down to acceptable levels and then start the flexbar exercises. Doing the exercises might cause more damage than good if you have inflamed tendons. I took off about 2 months before I attempted any exercises since I had really bad tennis elbow.

As of now, my tennis elbow is much better, but I still get some pain when I use it for tennis or just lifting something heavy like a fully laden grocery bag. Has anybody have 100% cure with this flexbar exercise?

November 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm
(8) Milo says:

I’ve had bad tennis elbow for a long time that is finally getting close to healing. Of course when I saw the NY Times article I bought the theraband flexbar and tried to do this exercise. It sounds like a miracle cure. The thing is, it hurts to do it, and not in a good way. It doesn’t hurt like worked muscles, it hurts like someone is poking a pin in the spot by that bony protrusion in the elbow where the tendon is supposed to glide. The physical therapists all say that if anything triggers that kind of pain, don’t do it. It will not make your tennis elbow better to make it worse. I kind of think the theraband cure is an internet scam – sorry.

January 15, 2014 at 10:49 pm
(9) Paige says:

My doctor recommended a golf ball muscle roller for my tennis elbow, great tool for massaging worked like a charm helped me recover faster than any other treatment! trust me your going to want to check it out!!

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