What is the best non-medical treatment for tennis elbow?
  • Jul, 28 2023
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The Mystery of Tennis Elbow and Non-Medical Remedies

I remember when I first heard the term "tennis elbow". Now, being a big fan of witticisms and puns, I instinctively imagined an elbow donning a tennis racket - complete with a quirky headband. But, as my doctor quashed my creativity with a stern look, I realised it was much more serious than my imagination allowed. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, as it's clinically referred to, is a condition that causes pain around the outside of the elbow. Often caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, it's a common injury not only among tennis players but also DIY enthusiasts, gardeners, and keyboard warriors like us bloggers. But, have no fear, Trenton is here to discuss the best non-medical treatments for tennis elbow. And trust me, they're as exciting as a tie-break in the Wimbledon final.

Treat it Cool and Warm

Ever heard of the tactic 'blow hot, blow cold'? It turns out, it isn't just for politics! It's a therapy of alternating between hot and cold treatments, aptly called 'contrast therapy', and has proven successful in relieving elbow pain. The science is simple - cold reduces inflammation and numbs pain, while heat increases blood flow and relaxes muscles. Imagine being a luxurious elbow at a spa, getting pampered by ice and hot packs with a dash of peppermint essential oil. Feels great, doesn’t it?

The perfect at-home remedy, ‘contrast therapy’ begins with placing a cold pack on your affected elbow for about fifteen minutes. You then replace the cold pack with a heat pack, again for another fifteen minutes. I can’t tell you the number of times this routine has worked for me. After a full day of typing away, the solace I find in this exercise compares only to biting into a warm blueberry scone right out the oven. Anyway, I digress. We're talking elbows here, not pastries. The trick is to ensure you start and finish the routine with cold treatment – a tip I got from a sagely physiotherapist, who also happens to be my neighbor. The number of times you conduct this routine can range from three to five times daily, depending on the severity of pain and discomfort.

Physical Therapy: The Power of Movement

Now, I wouldn't ask you to challenge Rafael Nadal to a match straight away, but yes, gentle exercises are key. They not only help heal but also strengthen your arm muscles, reducing the chance of a re-injury. Upon hearing the words 'physical therapy' you may picture a grim, Orwellian world of painful body contortions (trust me, I did too). But worry not! The reality is far from this dystopic image. In fact, the right kind of exercises like stretching and strengthening, routinely followed, serve as an excellent tennis elbow remedy.

I remember this one time, when my tennis elbow was at its peak, my therapist instructed me to perform this simple yet effective exercise. She asked me to extend my arm fully and flex my wrist, all the while maintaining a slow, steady breathing rhythm. It felt like partaking in a slow motion, Zen version of an arm wrestling match. Sure, it took some getting used to. But after a while, the exercise became second nature to me, helping me get back on track – my trackpad, that is. So, whether it’s a Tai Chi-style exercise or a classic wrist-forearm strengthening routine, don’t underestimate the might of movement!

Breaks and Ergonomics: The Art of Rest and Posture

The next stop on our tennis elbow recovery tour involves re-evaluating our regular habits. It's as simple as observing the way we perform everyday activities. If I received a dime for every time I hovered over my laptop in the most impossible contortions, I would be vacationing in Bora Bora by now. In all seriousness, don't be like the old Trenton. Correct ergonomics, coupled with adequate rest, are the secret ingredients of the ultimate tennis elbow healing recipe.

Let me share a story with you. Once, during a particularly demanding work week, I couldn't afford to take many breaks. By the end of the week, my elbow was screaming in protest! I learned my lesson the hard way and now, I always ensure to take a break every 45 minutes to an hour, just to ensure I'm not damaging myself. Whether it's a break for a cup of tea, petting my beloved beagle, or just standing up and stretching - every moment away from the grindstone counts. Equally important is maintaining a correct posture. Keep the wrists straight, elbows by your side and don't repeat the same movement continuously. Remember the saying, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’? I’d say, ‘all work and no breaks could give Jack a sore elbow’.

Natural and Alternative Remedies: Nature's own Medicine Cabinet

This section is your bonus track, the secret sauce, the ace up your sleeve! Mother Nature is always generous and has a plethora of natural and alternative remedies for tennis elbow. From massage to acupuncture, herbal supplements to essential oils, these therapies have shown promise in dealing with the discomfort related to tennis elbow.

Nothing beats the thrill of massaging a fine blend of essential oils onto your tired elbow. I've personally found great relief with a blend of eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender oils. They not only smell wonderful, but they ease pain and reduce inflammation. Then there's acupuncture. With its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points on your skin. Now, before you run for the hills, let me assure you, when done by a professional, one barely feels a thing. Plus, the relief it offers is truly cathartic! Alongside these, don't forget the power of anti-inflammatory foods and supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, turmeric, ginger - these are not just kitchen essentials, they're your friendly neighborhood defenders against inflammation. So, the next time you're sipping that ginger-green tea blend, remember you're not just appeasing your palate but healing your elbow too!

In conclusion, the quest to self-healing can be as fun as an intriguing game of tennis. From the cooling grace of contrast therapy, the meditative movement of physical therapy, the strategic game of breaks and ergonomics, to the age-old wisdom of natural and alternative remedies - recovery, my dear readers, is an adventurous journey. So let’s set out on this path and say ‘game, set and match’ to tennis elbow.

Trenton Whitworth

Trenton Whitworth

Hi, I'm Trenton Whitworth, a sports enthusiast with a passion for tennis. I've been studying and analyzing various sports for over a decade, with a particular focus on tennis. I love sharing my knowledge and insights through writing and have contributed to several publications. My goal is to help others better understand the game and inspire them to enjoy it just as much as I do. I believe that staying active and engaged in sports can lead to a healthier and happier life.

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