Tennis Elbow Exercises

Tennis elbow exercises are an important part of rehabilitation and can help prevent tennis elbow from recurring. Both stretching and strengthening exercises are important and should only be done pain-free.

Stretching exercises

The following guidelines are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any rehabilitation. Stretching exercises for tennis elbow should be performed gently and as soon as pain allows.

They should be maintained throughout the rehab program and continued even when the injury has healed.

Wrist extensor stretch

The arm is placed in front with the hand pointing down. Pull the hand towards the body to feel a stretch in the back of the wrist, forearm, and elbow. The forearm can be rotated inwards to increase the stretch which will be felt more on the outside of the elbow. The stretch can be held for 20 seconds and repeated up to 5 times.

Partner tennis elbow stretches

The arm should be out to the side and rotated inwards (downwards). The wrist is then flexed (bent) to increase the stretch. This stretch is more easily done with a partner to help. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times. Aim to stretch at least 3 times a day.

Neural stretch

Pain in the elbow may be contributed to by tension in the neck. This neural stretch may be beneficial in helping to release tension, especially in conjunction with sports massage. Hold neural stretches initially for a maximum of 5 seconds and only do so if this is comfortable. If there is any pain or tingling in the arm or hand then stop immediately. Gradually progress the duration of the stretch up to 10 seconds.

Strengthening exercises

Strengthening exercises for tennis elbow should only be performed pain-free. It is better to wait a bit longer to introduce strength exercises than to begin them too soon and make the injury worse. If any adverse effects or pain is felt either during, after or the next day then rest some more and take a step back.

Isometric wrist extension

The best way of contracting the muscles isometrically (or statically – no movement) is to get a partner to resist your movement, or use your other hand or an object such as a table to resist movement. Position the arm with the forearm and palm facing downwards and supported if possible. Attempt to extend the wrist by lifting it back as if trying to point the fingers to the ceiling. Maintain the contraction for 5 seconds. Rest and repeat 10-15 times. There should not be any movement at the wrist joint.

Finger extension

Bring all your fingertips together as if making a beak shape. Place a rubber band over your fingers, holding the tips together. Move your fingers away from each other against the resistance of the band. Repeat this 10-20 times.

Dynamic wrist extension

One of the more common tennis elbow exercises. When the above exercises can be completed comfortably without pain then you can move on to dynamic exercises. This may be from 5 days onwards. Do not rush. If the injury becomes painful, take a step back.

Dynamic exercises can be performed using a lightweight (about 1 kg). Move the wrist from flexion to extension. Start with 1 set of 10 repetitions daily and build up gradually up to 3 sets of 20 repetitions.

The same exercise can be performed using a resistance band. Rest your forearm on your knee, pinning one end of the band under your foot. Wrap the other end around your hand. Start with the wrist in a flexed position (pointing down to the floor) and the band pulled taught. Extend your wrist, keeping the forearm still. Slowly return back to the start position and repeat 10-15 times. Gradually increase the number of repetitions you perform.

This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.