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Best Stretches for Tennis Elbow Pain

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT March 13, 2020 0 Comments

woman stretching arm

The right tennis elbow stretches are an important step when recovering from tennis elbow, helping you manage your symptoms better. Lateral epicondylitis can come with forearm, wrist, and upper arm pain and stiffness, as well as other symptoms that can benefit from stretches. Keep reading to learn more about tennis elbow stretches.

Wrist and Forearm Stretches

The wrist and forearm muscles are the most affected areas because of where they attach between the wrist and the outside of the forearm and elbow. Addressing these areas is the best place to start for getting relief from tennis elbow. 

Wrist Flexor Stretch

This stretch will address the bulk of your sore muscles in the forearm. With the palm of your affected arm facing up toward the ceiling, stretch your arm out in front of you with the elbow straight. Then, using the opposite hand gently push the palm of the affected hand down toward the floor (into wrist extension) until you feel a stretch in the entire top of the forearm.

Hold 20-30 seconds, for 2-3 sets. Do not force the stretch and stay relaxed throughout.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

This stretch will address the muscles at the bottom of the forearm that help extend the wrist. Bring your affected arm straight out in front of you, palm facing down toward the floor, with your elbow straight. Using the opposite hand, push the top of the hand down toward the floor until you feel a stretch in the forearm.

Hold 20-30 seconds, for 2-3 sets. Again, keep it relaxed and relatively pain-free.

Forearm Supination and Pronation

The muscles that rotate your wrist can also get sore and irritated. To address this, put your affected arm at your side with the elbow bent to approximately 90 degrees. Then, turn the palm of your hand down toward the floor as far as it can go and hold. Next, switch directions this time turning the palm up toward the ceiling as far as possible and hold.

Hold each position for 10-15 seconds, alternating between the two positions 3-4 times total. For a stronger stretch, apply overpressure into the rotation with your other hand or hold a lightweight.

Radial and Ulnar Deviation

Hold your hand out in front of you with the elbow straight as if you were going to shake someone’s hand (thumb facing up toward the ceiling). Then from this starting position, bring the thumb up toward the ceiling, by moving the wrist, as far as possible and hold. Next, let the pinkie finger fall down toward the floor and hold again.

Hold each position for 10-15 seconds, alternating between the positions 3-4 times. Again, for a stronger stretch try applying overpressure to the hand.

Grip Exercises

Getting your hands involved in regular full-range movement can help promote optimal tennis elbow recovery.

Therapy Putty

Select therapy putty based on how much resistance you can tolerate (start with orange if you’re unsure). Roll the putty up into a ball and place it in the palm of your hand. Then, simply squeeze the putty to deform it until it oozes out of both sides of your fingers.

Hold the squeeze 5-10 seconds for up to 10 repetitions. Increase the resistance with different colors of putty as needed.

Therapy Ball

Use a hand exercise ball instead of putty as another hand squeezing option. Follow the same steps as above. The ball should offer slightly more resistance than putty. If you don’t have access to a therapy ball, you may also consider using a rolled-up hand towel or tennis ball.

Supplement these grip exercises with elbow strengthening exercises for the greatest result

Benefits of Stretching

There are many great benefits to stretching the elbow, as noted below:

  • Decreased stiffness and pain throughout the arm
  • Restoration of elbow flexibility and range of motion
  • Improved muscular balance and coordination 
  • Increased blood flow to tight, injured areas to allow healing
  • Less risk of further injury or aggravation 
  • Improved tolerance for other elbow treatments and exercise

If at any time, you are unsure of where to begin or how to progress, consider physical therapy

Stretching Tips

When completing a stretching program, it is always important to pay close attention to your symptoms to minimize aggravation and maximize healing potential. Additionally, consider combining your stretching program with other healing modalities such as:

  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Using a TENS unit before, during, or after your stretching program
  • Massage, self-administered or from a professional
  • Application pain creams, such as capsaicin or menthol based products 
  • Full body relaxation techniques can decrease the amount of elbow muscle guarding including meditation, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, etc.

Stretching Safely

When it comes to a stretching program, don’t overthink it. Stretching should be relatively comfortable and bring relief to sore and tense muscles. If you experience severe symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness, symptom aggravation, or a decreased quality of life due to your elbow pain, make sure to bring these to your therapist’s or sports medicine doctor’s attention. They should be able to get you on track with recommendations.

With the right balance of tennis elbow exercises and other treatment modalities, your elbow should be feeling better in no time.



Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.

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