Welcome back to #THRIVINTHURSDAYS! Today we are going to talk about elbow pain. Have you ever been told you have (insert sport name) elbow diagnosis, WELL LISTEN UP!
Over the past several months I have been treating many patients with various types of elbow pain due to various types of sports or overuse issues. Most of these patients were told that they either had the dreaded medial or lateral epicondylitis or golf/tennis/climbing or whatever sport you want elbow. Usually, the first thing people do is Google the diagnosis and are immediately convinced they have some extremely rare disease and freak out. Once they are done freaking out they usually buy whatever brace, band or cream “guaranteed” results hoping it will fix them. PLEASE DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP!
The elbow is a very simple joint meaning it is unlikely that the joint will just start imploding on its own. Elbow pain is usually due to a combination of poor elbow position likely caused by a wrist or shoulder dysfunction and/or overuse of the muscles of the wrist and forearm. Let's discuss how to assess your normal elbow alignment and how to self mobilize and strengthen your forearm extensor muscles. Today, we are only going to discuss how to assess your normal elbow alignment and how to self mobilize the forearm flexors and strengthen your forearm extensors. There are many other things in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder that can be contributing to elbow pain but that will be covered in another video.
How to Assess Yourself:
Stand in front of the mirror and bring both arms down by your side and straighten your elbows. If your hands are in line with your elbow and shoulder, then great. If your hands are aligned outside your elbow you likely have a greater “carry angle” which can expose the elbow to additional strain. If you have a large carry ankle then try to be mindful to keep your hands in line with your elbows while lifting anything. If you cannot correct the angle on your own then come see Lauren or me and we can help.
Now check if your forearm flexors are tight. Do this by first placing your palms together in a prayer position. The goal is to be symmetrical with an 80-90° bend in the wrist. If you are not symmetrical, having pain or not in the 80-90° range you likely need to stretch your forearm flexors (see video below for description).
How to Perform Self-Mobilization to the Forearm Flexors and Strengthen the Extensors:
As we are a gripping dominant species, therefore, most of us will have a stronger and likely tighter forearm flexor muscle group. A great way to self mobilize this muscle group is by placing the opposite elbow/forearm on the front side of the forearm just under the elbow. Find a spot that feels sore and tight and apply pressure on that spot while you make a fist with the hand you are stretching. You can do this on both sides of the forearm and on both arms. (See video for clarification)
Now that we have mobilized the forearm flexors muscles we need to strengthen the forearm extensors. We can do this with a rubber band, Theraband or specific extensor training band that you can find on Amazon. Ultimately we are going to place the resistance to the tops of all 5 fingers and ext them as far as possible for 3 sets of 15 reps. These can be performed with the wrist in neutral, extension and flexion. If this is not making your forearm burn then let me know and I will give you something that will.
Check out the video below for more instruction and as always, please feel free to reach out :)