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Ways to deal with tennis elbow?

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Ok, so I guess I'm old. Since entering my 40's several years back, I can't seem to shake lingering tendon issues. Hips, fingers, knees, etc.


Most recently, I've been plagued by sore tendons in my left elbow (seems like tennis elbow though I don't play tennis). It that hasn't gone away despite relative rest for the past several months. Any climbing that requires much grip strength is right out. I have no idea how I injured it, which seems to be the case for all my tendon maladies.


I tried stretching and massage which helps in the moment, but it all stiffens pretty quick again, and remains painful.


Any tips?


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I am sure a lot of people on here have used the full gamut of ideas.


I personally wear a compression elbow sleeve (Cooper Fit Pro) on my L out of rehab and my R to be proactive in avoiding it. My understanding is that this helps recruit additional tendons in the elbow which helps in preventing the over-exertion of the sore / damaged / inflamed one(s). This is my main method and I have been at it for a couple years now.


In order to "recover" from the initial onset of the pain I had to do a pretty good amount of therapy (from common sense and internet browsing). The main staple of that is listed below:


"Hammer" elbow rotation. In both directions. This helps strengthen the tendons. People also use / call them "golf club" rotations, and use a golf club. At the gym we have a broom stick and I ski strap a fishing sinker on it to adjust the resistance.


I have done random other suggestions, but the above is my main, go-to movement. When doing pull ups and any other "pull" workout (including the climbing gym), I will do lots and lot of rotations to loosen and warm up the elbows.


I sometimes can feel the pain after a long day of hard climbing, but the thing that pisses it off the most and the fastest is if I am in a really bad belay position: and have only one real way to manipulate the rope and the L elbow ends up taking a lot stress. So, I am very cautious about ensuring I don't build a belay where that will be a problem, but sometimes it's unavoidable.


Otherwise, I think mine is completely back under control and it has not limited my climbing for well over 1.5 years.


Hope this helps,




Edited by dave schultz
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Jason, sorry to hear bout the tendonitis. A couple of years ago, I had it in my right elbow so badly that I could hardly shake hands without tearing up.


This will sound strange but doing 20 sets of 3 chin-ups (rest 1-2 minutes between sets) every 4-5 days has some magical powers that cleared up my Tennis Elbow a couple of years ago. Took about two weeks for me to totally heal. Heard it referred to as "pin-firing" or "Starr rehab protocol" or something like that. I know it sounds crazy but it worked well for me and it works on horses so, you know...


Learned of it here: http://startingstrength.com/resources/forum/mark-rippetoe-q-and-a/60057-tennis-elbow-pin-firing.html


*not a doctor but play one on the internet

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I need to start PT.


Yep. Back when mine was flared up (again) a couple years ago I went to a PT and she helped me a lot. She is a hand specialist that my sports Doc referred me to. Takes a while, and it did get worse before it got better, but in a few months I felt so much better. After about 5 visits to get the hang of things I kept working on my own...


You'll be well served to repeat all work both sides long run Jason.





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I've had trouble with my elbows and finger tendons since the '80s when I was training hard and climbing a lot. This was the first time I'd seen a Doc for it but I met this guy for an ITBS issue before and trusted him. Some of those guys might go to the needle too quick...


The PT had my elbow supported through all the stretching/exercises and some deep tissue massage to moved that old blood out to try begin some healing in that old abused tendon. The little plastic tool she used for this was a bit uncomfortable.


Every day, basic hand pull with light stretching pressure with arm outstretched, pull straight back 5 count then the hand is stretched downward for another 5 count. 5 reps. with super light weights 1 - 3 lb, arm resting on the recliner in the man cave, hand hanging down w/weight, pull hand up 5 reps 5 times. Also got my old 22oz framing hammer out of the shop, grab the end of the handle, arm on a table or, that favorite recliner arm, relax that lower arm and metronome that head back and forth. You just gotta feel it all and if it hurts it's bad. I also continued the massage best I could at home. I was back to "manageable" pain levels in about 4 months. I'm about a generation ahead of you in years but you've climbed more I bet so...


And a little Hunters couldn't hurt. Good luck.

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I found these useful. I do them as preventative exercises now, except I use a arm-aid instead of a roller bar.





I've seen this recommended as the best approach, and one to do as a preventive measure.


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