Plan For the Next Round | 4 Exercises to Rehab Tennis Elbow.

Dr. Dan Luczka

Posted 07.14.2020

Despite the name, it might be surprising to find out that tennis elbow does not just affect tennis players. This injury is also common amongst golfers, baseball players, bowlers, and any jobs that require repetitive arm, elbow, and wrist work. According to Baylor University Medical Center, fewer than 5% of tennis elbow diagnoses are from tennis related injuries!

So what exactly is tennis elbow, and what makes it different from other injuries such as golfer’s elbow? Well, tennis elbow comes from straining  the muscles and tendons around the outside of the elbow. Tennis elbow got its name from the prevalence of the issue amongst tennis players who grip their racquet too tightly, causing a high amount of stress to be transferred to the tendons and muscles in the elbow upon raquette impact.

If you’re a tennis player, or anyone encountering outer elbow joint pain, giving these 4 exercises a try can help reduce the pain from tennis elbow and decrease your recovery time.

1. Tendon Glides

Tendon glides are a great exercise to stretch out the various tendons located within the forearm. This exercise stretches each tendon to its greatest amount of movement and is key to improving mobility and decreasing pain.

To Perform Tendon Glides:

Step 1: Start with your elbow close to your body and your arm pointing straight up to the ceiling. Curl your fingers in towards your palm without curling your knuckles, making the hand resemble a bear’s paw.

Step 2: Extend the fingers straight across and make a 90° bend at the knuckles.

Step 3: Keeping the knuckles at a 90° bend, make another 90° with the finger joints closest to the knuckles. NOTE: Keep the finger joints furthest from the knuckle straight.

Step 4: Now curl the finger joints furthest from the knuckles. Your hand should look like a fist now. NOTE: It’s important to remember that your thumb should NOT be tucked into your palm, it should be curled outside the palm.

Step 5: Open up your fist and point your fingers straight up towards the ceiling. Your hand should resemble a blade now.

Step 6: Curl both finger joints while keeping the knuckle joints straight to return to the starting position.

Repeat this exercise 20 times on each hand a day to stretch out the tendons in your forearm and reduce tennis elbow swelling.

2.  Forearm Stretch with Bent and Straight Elbow

This forearm stretch is a great way to stretch out the muscles and tendons located on the outside of your forearm. A great way to think about the tendons that this is going to stretch is to imagine rotating the throttle on a dirt bike or motorcycle. The tendons that are used to pull the wrist back are going to be stretched out by this exercise.

To Perform forearm stretches with bent and straight elbow:

Step 1: Start with your elbow close to your body and your arm pointing out in front of you. Keeping your wrist replaced, grip your fingers with your other hand and pull slightly back towards yourself. You should be in a t-rex arm position to start this stretch.

Step 2: Keeping the fingers pulled back with your other hand, slowly extend your arm out directly in front of you by extending the elbow. Keep the wrist relaxed throughout this exercise, and you should feel a stretching sensation in the forearm particularly near the elbow. Hold this position for 30 seconds and return to the starting position.

Repeat this exercise 3 times on each arm a day to help with improving forearm muscle blood flow and increasing flexibility.

3. Lacrosse Ball Massage

After a hard training session, this exercise is perfect for decreasing muscle soreness associated with  physical exercise. The lacrosse ball massage is going to improve blood flow and decrease muscle tension, which will help to decrease recovery time and reduce muscle soreness after physical activity.

To Perform Lacrosse Ball Massages:

Step 1: Sit in a chair with armrests and place your arm on the rest in a relaxed position. With your other hand, take a lacrosse ball and press down into the upper forearm area. Make circles on the forearm (both clockwise and counterclockwise) while continuing to press down on the ball. NOTE: When pressing down you should avoid bearing down on the ball as that can lead to injury. Instead, focus on applying a moderate amount of force that you feel some slight discomfort as the ball rolls over the muscles. 

Repeat this exercise on each arm after an intense forearm muscle workout, like playing tennis, to improve muscle recovery and reduce soreness.

4. Radial Nerve Glides

Nerve glides, or nerve flossing, are a type of stretch that soothes irritated nerves. This nerve glide in particular targets the nerve most commonly found to be irritated in a tennis elbow injury. Performing these nerve glides helps to relax the pressure of the nerve and helps to combat the pain of a tennis elbow injury.

To Perform Radial Nerve Glides:

Step 1: Start with your elbow close to you and your arm out in front of you. Make a scooping motion with the hand as your bring the arm behind your body by rotating at the shoulder.

Step 2:  Keeping the arm back, rotate the head away from the arm that is pulled back. This will elongate the nerve path leading from the elbow to the head which reduces the pressure placed on specific nerves in the elbow.

Step 3: Return the head to a straight up position and bring the arm back out in front of you. 

Repeat this exercise 15 times on each arm a day to reduce tennis elbow pain.


It’s our hope that these exercises can help you mitigate and prevent some of the pain that comes with a tennis elbow injury. As with any injury, if the pain is serious then we recommend contacting your Physical Therapist  or your Primary Care Physician for specified treatment.

Meet the Author

The founder of InstaCare Physical Therapy, Dr. Dan Luczka is dedicated to the wellness of each and every person who walks through the door. Dr. Dan opened this center with the goal of helping health conscious individuals live their most active and fit life without the need for pills, injections or surgery. When Dr. Dan isn't using his magic touch to keep people as active and healthy as they can, he's attending classes and conferences to implement the most innovative practices and technologies to address his patients' needs.

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