Do you need an elbow brace or strap to help you get through your regular pickleball games? What if I told you there’s a BETTER way to manage your elbow pain AND prevent it from coming back? If you’re willing to devote ten minutes per day to a few exercises and some self-massage techniques, there’s a good chance you can ditch that elbow strap and get back to the court WITHOUT pain and with improved motion in your arm to have you playing at the top of your game?
If you’re having pain on the outside of your elbow, there’s a good chance you could have lateral epicondylitis, or more commonly known as “tennis elbow.” This condition can also occupational, such as with people who turn a wrench for a living or perform any task involving repetitive twisting of the forearm. I even have seen a pastor with this condition, which he attributed to doing some renovations around his church (talk about hands on!) He was actually a pretty decent golfer too (though not playing frequently at the time) which may have irritated the area previously.
Here are four simple do-it-yourself interventions plus one simple treatment that work quite reliably when done consistently. If these approaches don’t resolve your pain AND help you return to the pickleball court, the next step would be to seek help from a rehab professional who has other techniques available and can also look for potential causes such as in shoulder function.
Mobilization with movement – Whether performed on yourself or delivered by a professional, this is the “go-to” technique for persistent tennis elbow. Both options are shown below. Note that you can vary the angle of arm bend to provide different stimuli to the area, as patients can vary in which angle works best for them. Typically the treatment is performed by applying lateral pressure and then having the patient grip and release, though you’ll find different variations on the same theme commonly practiced. The key point here is that PAIN SHOULD REDUCE with this treatment. If pain is getting worse, this likely isn’t the right treatment for you. Which is fine, because there are other options….
Allan Phillips, PT, DPT is owner of Ventana Physiotherapy