Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tennis Elbow

Hello. I hope that this finds you well on what is, (for me at least), a beautiful sunny Saturday morning.

I was thinking of what to write about this weekend as over the past couple of weeks I have been on serious holiday mode over Christmas. As I was drinking my morning cup of coffee the idea struck me that I should maybe write about something that I have been doing a lot lately, which is knitting!

My Christmas holiday has been spent doing four things; drinking too much alcohol, reading a fantastic new book by Anthony Horowitz (The House Of Silk), climbing at Craggy Island three times a week and knitting. For me this is about as good as it could get!

Knitting is quite an intense process at times and two weeks ago I started knitting a new jumper in a lace knit, which basically means that I have to become proficient in making a lot of holes. It's proved to be too much of a brain work out for me as I am not good at counting at the best of times. So, this week I thought I would have a quick fix of satisfaction and knit David a pair of socks; easy, straight forward and warm.

I can hear you asking; 'What has this got to do with body-work?'.

Tennis Elbow is my answer.

I treat a lot of people who work in offices and who come to me with very tight shoulder blades that lack ease in their movement as well as aching forearms and elbows and it's the same for all people who sit down a lot and use their hands. Whether you are sitting at your desk during the day or have some new cashmere yarn flowing through your fingers, you are liable to get painful shoulders and arms.

Tennis elbow is not very nice and it causes too many people to give up what they love. If you catch it quickly enough it is easy to look after on a day to day basis at home and so I hope the following pieces of advice help you to get on top of it.

What is Tennis Elbow? If you take a look at your arm you will see that your forearm, (below the elbow), has a smooth side and a hairy side. It's the hairy side that is home to your Extensor group of muscles that causes Tennis Elbow. The simple way to remember it is that “Hairy ExTensors = Tennis Elbow”.

To feel them work, hold your arm out in front of you with the palm down. Now put your other hand on the hairy part of the forearm and notice how the muscles under your hand tighten with their contraction as you point your fingers to the ceiling.

These muscles that you feel tighten link in to the elbow; it's where they originate from. Every time you use your fingers to type, knit, sew, garden, massage, climb etc, you are asking your hands to work from your elbow. It's no wonder then that when you have used your hands and arms a lot that your elbow starts complaining. Many people with tennis elbow will tell me that it hurts on the outside of the arm and that it feels hot and grumpy. Some say that the pain radiates down the arms and it's not uncommon for people to have shoulder and neck issues at the same time.

How can you help it at home? The best thing to do is to look after your forearms every day if you feel that the outside of your elbow is hurting constantly and here are three things to do every evening and it only takes 10 minutes.

Ice Get a bag of peas and a tea-towel. Place the tea towel on the forearm and the peas on top of it and let them rest there for three minutes. Why? The ice helps to take any inflammation that is around the area away and in turn takes the hot and achy feeling away.

Massage: Get some massage oil which you like the smell of as you are more likely to use it! Apply a small amount to the arm that you are working on and gently rub it in. With your thumb, gently press around the whole of the forearm and when you feel some tight painful bits just wait there with gentle pressure until it feels easier. Don't beat yourself up at this point, I don't want anyone bruising themselves! After you have done that, simple massage the area and work right the way up to the shoulder, working both sides of the arm.

Stretch It Out! Now comes the stretch part. Hold your arm out in front of you with the palm facing downwards. Drop the hand so that the fingers are facing down. Now get the other hand and place it on top of the hand that you are working and gently press it towards the body. You should feel a nice stretch in your forearms. Hold it for 30 seconds, let it go and repeat twice more.

I hope that this has helped a little and that if you are suffering from Tennis Elbow it has given you a few ideas as to how to help it on a regular basis. It shouldn't take too long to get on top of it and you can always stretch your arms during the day. Take regular breaks at work if you type a lot to make sure that you are not over using the Extensor muscles for too long with out a break. They are only little and need to be taken care of.

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