Tennis Elbow is one of the most common problems for recreational player. It has a sigma of someone who doesn’t hit the ball with the correct technique and shames people into not treating it correctly. Put simply Tennis Elbow is an overuse injury created by repetitive motion. While there may be better ways to hit a nail with a hammer, the is little doubt that the injury occurs due to overuse and not technique. Many recreational players develop it because their muscles are not ready and they are unprepared for the thousands of repetitive shocks that one receives when hitting something whether it is a ball, nail, keystroke on a keyboard and so on. It’s sad to see people on court looked down on for injury. Hopefully this article will provide some insights on how to deal with the pain.
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What we can provide is some real world anecdotal experience from tennis elbow injury and racquet technology.
Here is a definition from the MAYO Clinic website
“Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in your elbow are overloaded, usually by repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. Despite its name, athletes aren’t the only people who develop tennis elbow. People whose jobs feature the types of motions that can lead to tennis elbow include plumbers, painters, carpenters and butchers. The pain of tennis elbow occurs primarily where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to a bony bump on the outside of your elbow. Pain can also spread into your forearm and wrist. Rest and over-the-counter pain relievers often help relieve tennis elbow. If conservative treatments don’t help or if symptoms are disabling, your doctor might suggest surgery.”
One of the best ways to reduce the pain of Tennis Elbow is to create counter pressure on the muscle belly of the forearm thereby reducing the strain on the tendon in pain. If you have this injury, when you visit your physical therapist or doctor they will provide you with an elbow brace to do just that.
Recently I was provided with a free sample of the SenTEQ Elbow Brace Support Strap to try and review. Although they did provide the strap for free, this is not a paid review and my opinions are my own. I have tried several straps in my journey to heal tennis elbow. Here are a few samples of the ones that are most popular on amazon.
Bodyprox Elbow Brace 2 Pack for Tennis & Golfer’s Elbow
OTC Band-It, Forearm Band, Compression Strap, White
When searching Amazon for Elbow braces the choices can be overwhelming. We can break it down into one strap, two strap, or three strap compression bands. In my opinion, a tennis player might be inhibited by an elbow brace that has more than two strap attachment to the arm. With the idea of compressing the forearm muscle, one pressure point will do. I have had a lot of experience with the BandIT forearm band and while it does seem to work very well and have a solid compression action, the design of holding the straps with medal studs eventually breaks or the velco tears off the the stud leaving it useless. Perhaps this only happens to power users that use it daily but it seems that would be the purpose no? I like the wide compression pad which seems to engulf the arm but perhaps this might be a bit much for those you who have thinner arms? Many players have also complained that the velco being so thin can actually bit into the skin of the arm and so a few players wear them over a long sleeve shirt to avoid the inch and bite of the velcro strap.
The Bodyprox product and many bands like it seem to be a bit small for the compression contact. I have tried a few of these types and always find myself readjusting them as the sweat of tennis play loosens the connection and moves the band around. With such a small surface area, it lacks the gripping power of the BandIT. While it is quite a bit cheaper in price, you get a lot less material coverage and perhaps less compression on the full muscle. I would think that especially for those larger forearm players, this kind of very small band might be lacking.
The Senteq band is a nice marriage of both compression and size. This band covers more area than the BandIT and actually wraps your whole forearm in compression without being overly uncomfortable. The compression pad is a slight bit smaller than the BandIT but perhaps makes up in size with the full wrap around the muscle. The Senteq has a two strap method of attachment which does make it a little slower to put one especially if one is rushing between points but once in place feels the most secure of the three. There is one velco attachment to close the loop around the arm and a second velcro attachment that wraps around the first loop which gives it the added pressure. It’s not as easy to apply with one hand and I found myself needing to slip on the first loop, then reset and tighten the loop, then strap the loop on. Once on it does feel quite a bit more secure than the other bands. I am not sure if medically the point of the band is pin point pressure on the muscle belly or just a general compression of the arm. For pin point pressure the BandIT and Bodyprox have a thicker more solid foam block which makes it feel slightly more exact where the pressure is being applied. The Senteq does have a foam pad but it is more jelly like and not as direct. The full arm design does provide quite a bit of compression throughout the length of the band which can be increased by tightening the velco. The profile of the Senteq is quite slim and not much more bulking than the BandIT although it does cover a full circle around your arm with material. The material seems well made with little chance of tearing or falling apart like the BandIT did for me.
In all I enjoy the Senteq band quite a bit and look forward to wearing it over a long period of time to see how well it holds up through the months. I hope to do an update at 6 months and report back on how it has lasted. This band holds at 4.3 out of 5 stars rating on amazon with 5,149 global ratings at current time of writing. Being one of the most highly rated tennis elbow compression bands does give me a good deal of confidence that this band will provide the support and tennis elbow prevention needed.
I would love to hear from you on products you have tried or physical therapist recommendations you have received. Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!