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Less talked about than tennis elbow – but no less debilitating is golf elbow. The medical term is medial epicondylitis.
Medial epicondylitis refers to inflammations of the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle of the humerus or arm bone.
These tendons are attached to the muscles responsible for flexing your wrist and pronating your forearm (rotating your forearms).
How does Golfer’s Elbow affect tennis players?
Despite its name, this is a condition that affects tennis players. Anyone who performs the motions of rotating the forearm down repetitively can be affected. Tennis players are especially susceptible to forehands and serve.
Because tennis requires repetitive and strenuous forearm and wrist movements, tennis players are at risk of developing the condition. Warming up and stretching before playing can be a tremendous help.
Since forehands, serves, and overheads are the most painful strokes for tennis players with the ailment, finding the best tennis racquet for golfer’s elbow is something affected tennis players will want to look into.
The major complaints of tennis players with golfer’s elbow are pain along the side of the elbow closest to your body when your palm is facing up. Pain can sometimes radiate down the forearm.
How Golfer’s Elbow can be treated
Wear a Brace
In some cases, some players will wear elbow braces around their arms. These devices wrap around the elbow area and have shown by studies to reduce pain and inflammation.
Braces can be very helpful to tennis players who are trying to maintain their game and stop golfer’s elbow early.
A small and compact brace that fits just under the elbow is great for keeping golfer’s elbow from getting worse.
If you get one with Velcro construction, then you are assured that one-size-fits-all. The brace works by applying pressure to your elbow using a gel pad.
Unfortunately, usually, the symptoms will subside with avoidance of playing tennis.
However, if your symptoms are under control with treatments such as ice, strengthening/stretching exercises, and occasional anti-inflammatory medication, then choosing a good tennis racquet for golfer’s elbow will enable you to return to the game you love!
Take a look at this video for tips on exercises for golfer’s elbow.
When Golfer’s Elbow is most likely to occur
Golfer’s elbow in tennis players can occur in players of all skill levels. One of the main causes of the injury is the inability of a body part to withstand the demands placed on it.
Golfer’s elbow is more often seen in novice players as opposed to advanced players because it is likely to be caused by either improper technique or improper equipment (the wrong racquet).
It all begins with the racquet. Having the correct grip size and string tension can minimize the stress placed on your elbow and forearm.
Correct grip size
Wrist pain from gripping the racquet or lifting the racquet up to serve is a common problem causing golfer’s elbow.
A too-small grip requires more muscle strength to keep the racquet from twisting in your hand.
A grip that’s too large inhibits wrist snap on serves, makes grip changes more difficult, and also requires more muscle strength.
Prolonged use of a grip that’s too big is also a problem.
Looser, thinner, and/or more resilient strings are easier on your arm. They stretch more and spread the force of the ball’s impact over a longer period of time. This reduces the peak shock.
Switching to a softer string for golfer’s elbow is advised at least in the mains. A full bed of natural gut string is the gentlest option for your elbow.
If you are recovering from golfer’s elbow, switching to a softer string can promote healing while still allowing you to be competitive.
An open string pattern will provide a more cushioned feel. A dense string pattern will have a tighter ‘grid’ and will flex less on impact than a more open pattern.
Opening the string bed will allow the strings to ‘give’ more on impact and better dissipate shock especially on mishits.
The main disadvantage of looser strings is less control.
However, with golfer’s elbow afflicting roughly half of all recreational tennis players choosing equipment that can improve the likelihood of avoiding this painful condition may be necessary.
An unlikely solution: Go heavier
While you would think a sore arm would fell better with a lighter racquet, the opposite is true.
A heavier racquet absorbs shock and resists twisting better than the same racquet with less weight.
A 70-year-old, 100-pound woman cannot swing as heavy a frame as a 30-year-old, 200-pound man.
You should use the heaviest racquet you can comfortably use, while still making your normal swing.
Use a racquet that is lighter in the head
Larger racquet headed racquets offer a bigger sweet spot. But your aching arm would like a lowered torque. Larger racquet heads will torque (twist) less from off-center hits.
If the majority of the weight of a racquet is close to your hand, it will be easier to maneuver.
Even a light, head-heavy frame will be harder to move, especially at the net.
Having the balance point farther from your hand will force you to work harder to pull it around, thus creating a stressor for your arm.
Factors to consider
While the following measures may seem extreme to prevent and/or treat golfer’s elbow, injury to the elbow joint not only interferes with the enjoyment of tennis, but it lessens the overall enjoyment of life!
- Use a more flexible racquet, with the largest head size that feels comfortable
- Use the heaviest racquet you can comfortably swing.
- Use a racquet with a head-light balance
- Select a racquet with an open string pattern
- Use a large grip. If in doubt between two sizes select the larger one.
- Restring your racquet as often as you can, preferably every 30 days.
- Replace your string every time you restring, even if you use an overgrip.
After you use the most forgiving racquet you are comfortable with to heal golfer’s elbow, consider staying with it even after symptoms disappear.
Best Tennis Racquet for Golfer’s Elbow
If you’re looking for the right racquet to use if you have Golfer’s Elbow, there are a number of options that may potentially serve as a good solution for your needs.
You should always consult a medical professional before using any new product with your tennis game if you have this condition.
The following options may work well for use with Golfer’s Elbow.
Wilson Blade 98 16×19 Countervail Tennis Racket, Unstrung
The Wilson Blade is upgraded with Countervail technology to maximize a player’s energy.
The minimalist design features clean lines, matte finishes, and laser engraving.
View at Amazon to learn more about how this racquet may work for your game.
Features that make this racquet ‘arm friendly’ include:
- With this racquet, you can play an aggressive modern game without choosing between a racquet that accommodates your style of play and one that won’t inflame your joints.
- This racquet allows you to play with an authentically modern racquet in terms of balance, power, and stiffness. The implementation of Countervail provides a one-of-a-kind dampening system that arrests vibration and pain before it ever reaches your wrist or elbow.
- The weight is below that of the Wilson RF 97 Federer Autograph. However, this racquet’s weight is still in the right weight class for generating drive and plow-through.
- If you choose the right strings for this racquet, you will have the flexibility for an even more arm-friendly response.
- Head Size- 98 sq inches
- Balance-3 points Head Light
- Length-27 inches
- Grip Size-4 3/8
Prince Tour 100T ESP Tennis Racquet (4-1/8)
The tour 100T is ideal for intermediate players who want a fast and spin-friendly racquet with controllable power.
Prince adds Textreme to the shaft, a light yet ultra-strong material that increases stability without compromising maneuverability.
From the baseline, this racquet plays fast and lively, with very easy access to spin. Although it lacks the plow-through of a heavy players racquet, it offers an impressive level of stability in its weight class.
At the net, the 100T moves into position very quickly and performs great on fast exchanges.
The speedy feel comes in handy on service returns where the racquet comes around fast and delivers an accurate ball.
View at Amazon for more information on whether or not this racquet could work well for you.
Features that make this racquet “arm friendly” include:
- Just under 11 0unces
- With its relatively low flex-point (62 RA), the 100T delivers an arm-friendly ride while still managing to maintain a crisp and modern feel.
- Headsize-100 sq inches
- Length- 27 inches
- String Pattern- 16 mains (choose a soft string) x 18 crosses
- Strung balance- 13 in/33.02cm/4 points Head Light
- Grip size-4 ¼
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com