Exercise and staying physically active are great ways to maintain your health and fitness, which reduces your risk of multiple diseases and enhances quality of life. However, physical activity isn’t entirely risk-free, and can result in injuries due to improper form, accidents or overuse.
Overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, shin splints and stress fractures, are caused by repetitive strain to the area. One common trauma injury is tennis elbow, which affects far more than just tennis players. In fact, anyone who performs repetitive arm movements, such as fitness enthusiasts, golfers, bowlers and more, can be affected by this nagging injury.
Frequently extending the wrists and bending and straightening the arms causes wear-and-tear on the forearm muscles and tendons. Constant use can lead to tiny tears in the tendon, which ultimately results in aggravation, inflammation and degeneration – characterized by pain, weak grip strength, difficulty grasping objects, sharp twinges, numbness or a dull ache.
Not only does it become difficult to perform the activity that caused tennis elbow – such as gaming, pitching a baseball or fishing, for example – but the pain also hinders common movements such as turning a doorknob, drinking from a coffee cup or brushing your teeth.
Rest is typically the first prescribed treatment option, which gives the injured tendon a break from the activity. But being sedentary can be a tough pill to swallow for regular exercisers and active individuals.
Can you exercise with tennis elbow? Yes, it’s possible, and even beneficial to stimulate circulation and oxygenation to your elbow, which helps the tendon heal. But you may have to incorporate modifications to ensure safety and promote healing, versus worsening the condition.