You have almost forgotten about it, but then you lift or twist your arm a certain way and it hits you like lightening…. Ouch!
Tennis elbow strikes again. The pain is sudden and severe, leaving you afraid to even move your arm.
Each time the tendon moves, tiny tears occur triggering a shooting pain from your elbow and up your forearm.
It does not take long for the pain to graduate and occur more frequently and during more motions, not just the initial repetitive action. Eventually, even the slightest twist or lift can set off the sharp pain, but the aching is ceaseless.
This is typically the point when you start researching exactly what are tennis elbow symptoms and how do you stop the pain.
In your studies, you will undoubtedly learn how to identify the initial source of your pain. You will learn the best techniques to strengthen and heal your tendonitis. Unfortunately, what you may not learn is your everyday bad habits which increase your symptoms and delay your pain.
While there are countless actions which agitate your condition, the following are most common. It is highly probably you have one or more of these bad habits. Until you learn to correct the habits, your recovery will be an uphill battle.
#1 Is Your Typing “Old School”?
A long time ago people, traditionally women, attended secretarial schools where the main area of study was typing. Typing was a highly marketable skill.
Because typing would be their primary task for the rest of their employable life, these students were taught to use a form and composure which would not only accelerate typing, but limit typing fatigue.
Fast forward 50 years. Today everyone generally does there own typing, most are self-taught, and secretarial schools no longer exist. Long gone are the days of typing “form”.
Now, most people loosely plunk away at their keys, hunched over their keyboard staring at a computer screen or laid back in a reclining desk chair.
Instead of arms kept straight in front of the body and precisely perpendicular to the keyboard with wrists hovering over the keyboard, we now rest our elbows and forearms on our laps with our wrists slightly inverted and reaching up toward the keys.
This seems like a “relaxed” position, but it is actually putting a great deal of strain on the lateral tendons, exponentially increasing the intensity of your tennis elbow symptoms. the incidence of typing-related tennis elbow pain is extremely high and often confused with the nerve injury known as carpal tunnel.
Ideally, your typing position should place a minimal burden on your body.
The keyboard should be below seated elbow height and the keyboard base is gently sloped away from the user where keys are accessible to the hands in a natural position. The back should be straight and your feet firmly planted on the floor.
In this position, the elbow angle is opened to promote circulation to the lower arm and hand. This accelerates healing. More importantly, all strain is removed from your lateral tendons, eliminating the occurrence of typing-related tennis elbow pain.
#2 An Arm Chair Should Not Be Your Desk Chair
Along the same lines as the last bad habit, our society has very much become a creature of comfort.
We no longer just want comfort after a long day; we want it all day long. Where do we want it most and are willing to spend the most to get it? A big, cushy office chair, complete with arm rests.
Arm rests are not a bad thing, but they have their place.
If you only typed all day long and using the right form, your arm wouldn’t constantly contact the chair and an arm rest would be a welcome place to alleviate the occasional signs and symptoms of tennis elbow.
However, you don’t just type all day, do you? You surf the internet, probably reading while leaning forward on an elbow propped up on your armrest.
You click away at each new screen, reaching over to the mouse with your lateral tendon outstretched and baring your weight against the armrest… the perfect equation for tennis elbow.
You have two choices. Make a conscious choice all day long to elevate your arm over your arm rest as you click your mouse as well as keeping your arm resting gently, not supporting any weight, in your lap as you read the data on your screen.
That is a lot of retraining to do and a lot of time concentrating on your arm when you should be thinking about the task at hand.
The other option is the simpler one. Ditch the arm chair. Do not set yourself up for failure. Sometimes relief requires a lot of work, but sometimes you can reduce tennis elbow symptoms and treatment can be more effective when you make the easier choice.
Do not tempt yourself into a lazy position which threatens your tennis elbow, remove the temptation. In this case, the easiest solution is to get a chair without arm rests.
#3 Is There A New Child In Your Life?
Those adorable bundles of joy do it every time. They come into our lives and we want nothing more than to scoop them up, swing them around, lift them high up in the air, and play with them.
While playing is healthy for both you and the child, you could be placing unnecessary strain on your arm and worsening the symptoms of tennis elbow. Do not stop playing or even limit your play-time to protect your elbow. You simply have to be more vigilant during play.
It is time to do a thumb check. The most damaging but most common mistake is a misplaced thumb while lifting a child. It is very common to hold your thumb at a 90 degree angle to the rest of your hand, in an “L” shape, with your thumb supporting the weight of the child and your fingers wrapped around the other side.
Lifting the child in this manner puts most of the weight on your thumb and the tendons running through your hand and down your arm. Likewise, the unnatural strain on the lower tendons pulls unnaturally on the elbow tendons, aggravating your tennis elbow.
Lifting in this manner occasionally wouldn’t be a problem, but chances are you aren’t lifting your bundle of joy occasionally. In fact, you may be lifting dozens of times a day and in some cases, per hour.
The answer is not to stop lifting the child, but to change your hand position. Keep your thumb tucked up against your index finger when you lift the child, this will offer the same amount of fun but without the strain on your elbow.
#4 Self Treatment Is Not The Same As Self Help
In this day and age when any information can be found online we feel empowered as problem solvers. Why not? There is a manual for everything from building a bird house to building a social network.
After reading through a few related sites, you may be preparing to create your own tennis elbow treatment plan.
Here’s the problem, when you are not an expert on a subject, you typically can’t tell when you’ve taken a wrong turn until there is a very obvious mistake.
If you don’t know anything about carpentry, you won’t know the bird house you’ve designed was based on some other novice’s “expertly” presented ideas until you hang it on a hook and it falls apart. That may be an acceptable risk with a bird house; it is too dangerous when it comes to your body.
Unless you are an expert on anatomy, specifically the way muscles, tendons, and bones work and heal, you have no way to determine if your self-designed treatment plan is going to work or going to disable you.
You could cause more damage, even irreversible damage. When it comes to your health and safety, it is time to seek expert help.
Seeking expert help does not translate into spending thousands of dollars yearly on physical therapy sessions and expensive gear. Just because you shouldn’t develop a treatment plan on your own, does not mean you cannot help yourself.
Geoff Hunt was a tennis elbow sufferer like you who believed there had to be a better answer and believed that answer was self-help. The difference is Geoff is a physical therapy expert.
After years of wasted time and money chasing down the latest miracle techniques, Geoff decided to use his knowledge of human anatomy to decipher all of the different treatment philosophies. Then, he used the most effective aspects of each to create a new approach to healing.
It did take a couple years of trial and error, but he was able to cure his tennis elbow for good, using simple stretches and common items found in every home. He began to teach others his self-help technique and they were able to cure their tennis elbow too!
He explains his effective self-help technique in his e-book Tennis Elbow Secret Revealed along with several other supporting resources to help you identify and cure your tennis elbow.
Creating a treatment plan on your own is probably not the best idea. However, if you use Geoff Hunt’s physical therapy expertise to establish an at-home strategy, you can help yourself and get back the full mobility of a pain-free elbow.