Causes of and Suggestions for Remedying Tennis Elbow
Millions of tennis players suffer from tennis elbow. This debilitating injury is the result of damage to a tendon connecting muscle to the elbow that generally occurs because of repetitive motion, and tennis is all about repetitive motion. There are several mechanisms specifically associated with hitting a tennis ball that can cause tennis elbow.
Elbow crunch, essentially a muscle spasm, occurs when the muscle extending from the hand to the elbow suddenly shortens due to the impact of the ball hitting the racquet. At this moment, the abrupt hand motions back and forth and up and down also create screwdriver and whip like stress on the same muscle. Additionally, in the absence of damping, vibrations in the racquet frame are translated to the arm, causing further stress.
The worst things for tennis elbow are light, stiff racquet frames where a lot of the weight is distributed in the head. A common misconception is that poor stroke technique is the major cause of tennis elbow. This is simply not true. With the right equipment, poor strokes are not a cause of concern, except for your own sense of satisfaction. In fact, the major contributors to tennis elbow are almost certainly light, head-heavy racquets.
Light weight racquets fail to provide damping of the vibrations caused by the impact of the ball and racquet, and the heaviness of the head adds to the muscle stress. A heavier racquet reduces the vibrations upon impact and provides more appropriate force to a hard hit ball. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi use racquets over 13 oz., a weight that would be considered very heavy by most recreational players. The casual consumer is generally attracted to the lightest racquets in the store and racquet stringers sadly know little about the subject. However, most professional players know that heavier racquets provide you with a larger sweet spot, more control, better accuracy, and fewer long term injuries.
Advocates for light racquets argue that lighter frames allow you to swing faster. While this may be true, less mass translates to less force applied to the ball. So, what you gain in racquet speed, you lose in overall force and performance. Another way to think about it is like this: if you were in a head-on accident with a Hummer, which would you rather be in, a Mini Cooper or a Chevy Tahoe? In short, light tennis racquets, which are all too common these days, are bad for tennis elbow. Tennis is steadily losing players, largely to injuries suffered from using insufficiently and incorrectly weighted racquets. Salesmen are often uninformed or more concerned with short term profit than identifying the best product for the consumer.
The good news is, if you already own a light racquet or are still inclined to purchase one, there are options available to remedy the situation. Craig Brotman is the owner and operator of Pro Circuit Stringing, which provides service for players ranging from club level to world class and is the official stringing company of Pro Tennis World in Davie, Florida. Questions about choosing the right racquet for you or customizing your current racquet can be answered at www. Brotmantennis.com.
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