Sunday, May 11, 2014

Snappin' up the elbows

Like some kind of crazed fool, over the course of just three days last week I played tennis, partook in a yoga session, hit the gym three times, went on a 2-hour off-road bike trip and played two rounds of golf. As a consequence of this frenzy of physical activity, I now have annoying tingly, shooting pains in my elbows and am hindered in all physical pursuits.

Further research may be required but on reflection I think a heavy gym session is to blame. I simply used too much weight on the bench press too soon, and also tried to do push-ups with a small jump on the up part of the motion, which can put the elbows under strain if you do it wrong ... which I imagine I did. The self diagnosis is a mild case of 'golfer's elbow' (medial epicondylitis). The key difference to tennis elbow is that the pain is on the inside of the elbow versus the outside.

A review of elbow and joint injuries tells me that rest is crucial and that continuing when experiencing pain is just going to aggravate and prolong the injury. So it looks like any gym exercises involving the elbow are strictly off limits for a couple of weeks, which just about includes everything except leg exercises, shoulder pulldowns, cardio and core work.

As their isn't much pain, ice and ibuprofen is not required, but I have ordered a cheap elbow strap on the off chance that this helps by transferring some of the strain further down the arm.

In addition, there are a whole bunch of recovery exercises I'll be doing (see below), along with this yoga activity which seems to have helped quite a few people.

Hopefully the diagnosis is correct and these sensible measures all help. I'll be finding out soon enough..

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Here are some stretches from a site called the Summit Medical Group that look like they are worth trying:

You may do the stretching exercises right away. You may do the strengthening exercises when stretching is nearly painless.

Stretching exercises
  • Wrist active range of motion: Flexion and extension: Bend the wrist of your injured arm forward and back as far as you can. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Wrist stretch: Press the back of the hand on your injured side with your other hand to help bend your wrist. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Next, stretch the hand back by pressing the fingers in a backward direction. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Keep the arm on your injured side straight during this exercise. Do 3 sets.
  • Forearm pronation and supination: Bend the elbow of your injured arm 90 degrees, keeping your elbow at your side. Turn your palm up and hold for 5 seconds. Then slowly turn your palm down and hold for 5 seconds. Make sure you keep your elbow at your side and bent 90 degrees while you do the exercise. Do 2 sets of 15.
Strengthening exercises
  • Eccentric wrist flexion: Hold a can or hammer handle in the hand of your injured side with your palm up. Use the hand on the side that is not injured to bend your wrist up. Then let go of your wrist and use just your injured side to lower the weight slowly back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 15. Gradually increase the weight you are holding.
  • Eccentric wrist extension: Hold a soup can or hammer handle in the hand of your injured side with your palm facing down. Use the hand on the side that is not injured to bend your wrist up. Then let go of your wrist and use just your injured side to lower the weight slowly back to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 15. Gradually increase the weight you are holding.
  • Grip strengthening: Squeeze a soft rubber ball and hold the squeeze for 5 seconds. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Forearm pronation and supination strengthening: Hold a soup can or hammer handle in your hand and bend your elbow 90 degrees. Slowly turn your hand so your palm is up and then down. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Resisted elbow flexion and extension: Hold a can of soup with your palm up. Slowly bend your elbow so that your hand is coming toward your shoulder. Then lower it slowly so your arm is completely straight. Do 2 sets of 15. Slowly increase the weight you are using.

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