Preventing Epicondylitis

There are a number of largely common sense things that you can do to attempt to minimise the chances of suffering from an epicondylitis injury. By acknowledging that epicondylitis is usually caused as a consequence of repetitive motions of the arm/elbow it is possible to attempt to mitigate the negative effects of such movement on the tendons and muscles.

The following checklist is a good starting point towards attempting to prevent an epicondylitis condition (either medial or lateral) from occurring.

Prevention checklist

  • When playing racket sports such as tennis or badminton ensure that you are using the correct equipment in order to mitigate mishitting your shots which may cause a jarring on the muscles and tendons. This can mean selecting the equipment that complements your ability, size, sex, weight and height.
  • Attempt to use the correct techniques when playing your chosen respective sports. Mishitting shots, bad posture and swinging or gripping golf clubs incorrectly has led to some people developing lateral or medial epicondylitis.
  • If you are a beginner at your chosen sport you could hire the services of a tennis coach or golf coach, for example, so that you reduce the risk of developing tennis elbow or golfers elbow by using the correct technique to play from the beginning.
  • If there has been a previous epicondylitis condition or you feel tenderness of the elbow, consider resting or reducing the activity that is causing the repetitive arm action.
  • In the event of any pain in the elbow, consider adding an ice pack to the elbow.
  • Before undertaking any sporting or repetitive task stretch the arms and warm up thoroughly before beginning the exercise.
  • Try to keep yourself in good physical fitness. An underlying weakness in the area can cause epicondylitis to occur when strenuously exercising so it may be worthwhile strengthening the forearm muscles, upper arm, shoulder and upper back because increased muscular strength will enhance the stability of your joints.
  • Regular stretching helps to maintain the health of the connective tissue in the arm and around the elbow.
  • Wearing a counterforce brace can help to distribute pressure from the weakened or injured area to the arm as a whole. This measure is usually undertaken once there has been an incidence of epicondylitis, but it can be used as a preventative measure if you believe that you may be in a high risk group i.e. your sports technique is at the beginner stage, you do not exercise regularly, and you are in the 30 – 50 year old age bracket. In this instance it would probably be wise to consider wearing a counterforce brace around your forearm, just below your elbow whilst exercising.
  • If you believe that your epicondylitis symptoms are being caused by your job you should speak to your manager with a view to changing the environment or equipment you have been using to reduce or eradicate the epicondylitis symptoms.