Crash and Return

Tennis Elbow

Mar 1, 2006
Outside Magazine

» Tennis Elbow
BEFORE HE BECAME the team physician for the University of Wyoming's athletics department, Dr. Phillip Steele was a climbing rat scrambling up the big walls of Yosemite. While there, he was no stranger to the nagging pain of lateral epicondylitis, a.k.a. tennis elbow. "It's the most common overuse injury I see in climbers," says Steele about this strain, which also affects the racket-sport set and mountain bikers. The injury comes from maxing out the extensor muscles that originate on the outside of the elbow or from holds that put the wrist in awkward positions.

TREATMENT: "Whenever you do something with your palms down, your extensors are working," says Steele. "Stop playing and climbing and rest those muscles by doing as much as possible in your daily routine with your palms up: lifting grocery bags, opening drawers, pulling open doors, or hefting a gallon of milk."

PREVENTION: "Wear neoprene sleeves to keep your elbows warm, and before you start using those extensors, warm them up," says Steele. Here's how to get them going: With your right wrist bent inward, lightly push on your right hand with your left. Then, over six to ten seconds, slowly straighten your right wrist, pushing against the left. Repeat with your left wrist. Alternate three times.

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