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.
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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.