Austin Manual Therapy Associates

Tennis Elbow Physical Therapy

Tennis Elbow Physical Therapy Exercises


Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is a common medical condition. It causes pain and inflammation in the elbow joint and upper forearm. The name suggests a tennis connection. But, this injury can affect anyone, not tennis players. Tennis elbow physical therapy plays a vital role in recovery. It offers tailored exercises to strengthen and rehabilitate the affected muscles.

This article will explore the importance of physical therapy for tennis elbow. It will also highlight some effective exercises to reduce pain and promote healing.

Importance of Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow

When Do You Need Physical Therapy

When conservative methods like rest and ice fail to alleviate tennis elbow symptoms, it’s time to consider physical therapy for golfers elbow as a strategic approach. According to a published article by a seasoned physical therapist, approximately 5% of the population is affected by tennis elbow. Significantly, research underscores the superiority of physical therapy over self-managed care in reducing pain and facilitating recovery.

Benefits of Physical Therapy

Engaging in physical therapy for tennis elbow offers the following benefits.

Pain Alleviation

Physical therapy uses targeted exercises and stretches to relieve tennis elbow pain. These interventions reduce inflammation. They also promote blood circulation and enhance the body’s natural healing processes. Therapists tailor their approach to individual pain thresholds. They ensure a gradual and effective reduction in discomfort.

Addressing Root Causes

Temporary pain management strategies don’t delve into the root causes of tennis elbow. Physical therapy does. Therapists conduct thorough assessments to identify contributing factors. These may include poor ergonomics, muscle imbalances, or faulty movement patterns. Physical therapy aims to prevent the recurrence of symptoms by addressing underlying issues.

Improving Flexibility

Stiffness in the affected muscles and joints is a common symptom of tennis elbow. Physical therapists use targeted stretches and muscle manipulation techniques to enhance flexibility in the wrist, forearm, and surrounding muscles. Increased flexibility aids in pain reduction. It also improves overall joint function and range of motion.

Enhancing Strength

Weakness in the forearm and surrounding muscles is often a precursor to tennis elbow. Physical therapy includes strength-building exercises that specifically target the muscles involved in gripping and wrist movement. Strengthening these muscles not only aids in recovery but also provides a protective mechanism against future injuries.

Optimizing Overall Function

Physical therapists focus not only on isolated muscles but also on the functional aspects of daily activities. The best exercises for tennis elbow help individuals regain the ability to perform tasks without pain or limitations. This functional approach ensures that the rehabilitation process translates into real-life scenarios.

Preventing Recurrence

Physical therapy for tennis elbow extends beyond immediate pain relief, focusing on long-term health and preventing recurrence. By addressing the underlying causes of the condition, such as muscle imbalances or repetitive strain, this non-surgical approach strengthens the body’s resilience against future episodes. Therapists utilize a variety of techniques, both exercise-based and hands-on, to ensure that recovery is not just about managing symptoms but about fostering lasting musculoskeletal health.

Holistic Rehabilitation

The approach to physical therapy for tennis elbow is inherently holistic, considering the entire musculoskeletal system in treatment. This comprehensive method incorporates a blend of targeted exercises and manual therapies like massage or joint mobilization. This synergy of techniques not only aids in alleviating current discomfort but also promotes overall joint and muscle function, enhancing the body’s natural healing processes and functional capabilities.

Patient Education and Empowerment

Understanding the condition is crucial for physical therapy. Participating in rehabilitation is also crucial. Therapists educate people with tennis elbow. They teach them its causes and the rationale behind each exercise. This knowledge empowers individuals to be active in their recovery. It fosters a sense of control and confidence.

Tennis Elbow Physical Therapy Exercises

Tennis Elbow Physical Therapy Exercises

Wrist and Forearm Exercises

Wrist Flexor Stretch

Begin by extending your affected arm in front of you, palm facing down. Use your opposite hand to press down on the fingers, stretching the wrist and forearm. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat several times.

Wrist Extensor Stretch

Like the flexor stretch, extend your affected arm with the palm facing up. Use the opposite hand to press down on the back of your hand, feeling a moderate stretch along the top of the forearm. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat.

Wrist Curls

Sit or stand with a lightweight dumbbell in your hand, palm facing up. Slowly flex your wrist upward and then lower it back down. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Reverse Wrist Curls

Sit or stand with a lightweight dumbbell in your hand, palm facing up. flex your wrist upward and then lower it back down. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Finger and Hand Exercises

Finger Stretch

Gently pull each finger backward one at a time, holding for a few seconds. This helps improve flexibility and alleviate stiffness in the fingers.

Towel Crush

Place a small towel in your palm and squeeze it tightly for 5-10 seconds. Release and repeat. This exercise enhances grip strength.

Empty Handshakes

Extend your fingers and thumb as if offering an open-hand handshake. Hold for a few seconds, and then relax. Repeat to improve finger and thumb mobility.

Other Exercises

Supported Bicep Curl

While seated, rest your affected arm on a table with your palm facing up. Hold a light dumbbell and perform bicep curls. This supports the arm and focuses on strengthening without straining the elbow.

Weight Twist

Hold a light dumbbell with both hands and arms extended in front of you. Rotate the weight to one side, then the other. This exercise engages the forearm muscles.

Towel Wring or Towel Twists

Hold a small towel with both hands, wringing it out like squeezing water. This action works on forearm strength and flexibility.

Hammer Rotations

Hold a light hammer with your affected hand, palm facing up. Rotate the hammer side to side, engaging the forearm muscles. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Finger Extensions and Thumb Abduction

Using a rubber band, place it around your fingers and thumb. Open your fingers against the resistance of the band. This exercise targets the muscles controlling finger and thumb movement.

Precautions and Tips for Performing Exercises

Precautions and Tips for Performing Exercises

  • Start with low resistance and gradually increase as your strength improves.
  • Perform tennis elbow exercises in a pain-free range of motion.
  • If you experience increased pain, stop the exercise and consult your physical therapist.
  • Warm up before starting tennis elbow exercises to enhance blood flow and flexibility.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your symptoms persist or worsen despite regular exercises for tennis elbow, consult a healthcare provider. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation, including imaging tests. They can also guide you on the most appropriate course of action.


Tennis elbow can be a challenging and painful condition. Still, you can regain strength and function with the right approach, including targeted physical therapy exercise programs. Consistency and proper technique are essential, so please work closely with your physical therapist to make sure you’re safe and effective.

Physical Therapy Austin provides essential insights and resources on sports injuries. Ideal for athletes aiming to prevent injuries or those recovering from one, our guidance is designed to empower your health journey.


What is the fastest way to cure tennis elbow?

While there’s no instant cure, a combination of rest, ice, and targeted tennis elbow physical therapy treatment exercises can expedite the healing process. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

What exercises should be avoided in tennis elbow?

Avoid activities that strain the forearm, such as heavy lifting and repetitive activity. Exercises exacerbating tennis elbow pain should be modified or avoided until symptoms improve.

Is squeezing a ball good for tennis elbow?

Squeezing a stress ball or tennis ball lightly can improve grip strength and promote blood flow to the affected area. However, starting with low resistance and monitoring for any increase in elbow pain is essential.