Maintaining Strength and Range of Motion in Your Elbow

Rear view of tennis player serving during a match.

Whether you’ve recently recovered from a shoulder injury, fracture, tennis elbow or just want to prevent future injuries, strengthening and range of motion exercises can help. By exercising each muscle and moving a joint through its full range of motion, you can keep it flexible, reduce pain and improve strength. Below are some exercises that can help you maintain balance and strength in your elbow.

 

Fist Clench

Weak grip strength is a common contributor to tennis elbow and elbow ligament injuries. Improving grip strength by building the muscles of the forearm can help improve ability to perform daily activities. Fist clench exercises can be completed easily using a table and a towel.

  1. Sit at a table with your forearm resting on top.
  2. Hold a rolled up towel or small ball in your hand.
  3. Squeeze the towel or ball and hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Release and repeat 10 times. Switch and do the other arm.

 

Forearm Supination

Your supinator muscle in the forearm attaches to your elbow and is responsible for turning the palm upward. Elbow injuries often arise from movements involving this large muscle.

  1. Sit holding a 1kg dumbbell vertically with your elbow resting on your knee.
  2. Use the weight of the dumbbell to rotate your arm outward, turning the palm up.
  3. Rotate the hand back the other direction until your palm is facing downward.
  4. Repeat this action 20 times on each side.
  5. Try to isolate the movement to your lower arm, keeping your elbow and upper arm still.

 

Elbow Extension

To improve your ability to fully straighten your elbow, you must work on elbow extension range of motion exercises.

  1. Sit in a chair with your elbow straightened out all the way and resting on a table.
  2. Apply pressure to your forearm or wrist to add overpressure to the stretch
  3. Straighten your elbow out as far as possible and hold for five to 10 seconds.
  4. Release the stretch and allow your elbow to bend a bit.
  5. Repeat the exercise for 10 repetitions.

You can also add to the stretch of your elbow extension by holding onto a 1kg weight.

 

Wrist Extension and Flexion

The wrist extensors are a group of small muscles responsible for bending the wrist. These muscles connect to the elbow and are often subject to overuse, particularly during racquet sports.

  1. Sit holding a 1kg dumbbell with your palm down and elbow resting on your knee.
  2. With your palm down, extend your wrist by curling it towards your body.
  3. Return to starting position and repeat 10 times on each side.
  4. Try to isolate the movement to the wrist, keeping the rest of your arm still.

Do this exercise with your palm facing upwards to exercise your wrist flexors, which are small muscles that work opposite your wrist extensors.

 

Scapula Setting

The strength of your shoulder muscles also plays an essential role in preventing injury and providing overall strength and stability in your elbows. This exercise strengthens your upper back at your shoulder blade.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms by your sides.
  2. Place a pillow under your forehead for comfort, if required.
  3. Gently draw your shoulder blades together and down your back.
  4. Ease about halfway off from this position and hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Relax and repeat 10 times.

 

Physiotherapists in Melbourne and Sydney

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of health services including physiotherapy, massage, clinical pilates, yoga, general health check-ups and more in multiple locations across Victoria and New South Wales. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our CBD based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

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