Therapeutic Exercise Program for Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow / Golfer’s Elbow)

From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Therapeutic Exercise Program for Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow / Golfer’s Elbow)

1. Wrist Extension Stretch

Equipment needed: None

Repetitions:  5 reps,
4x a day
Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Step-by-step directions

  •  Straighten your arm and bend your wrist back as if signaling someone to “stop.” 
  •  Use your opposite hand to apply gentle pressure across the palm and pull it toward you until you feel a stretch on the inside of your forearm. 
  • Hold the stretch for 15 seconds. 
  • Repeat 5 times, then perform this stretch on the other arm.

Tip Do not lock your elbow.

 

Wrist Extension Stretch

2. Wrist Flexion Stretch

Equipment needed: None

Repetitions:  5 reps,
4x a day

Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Step-by-step directions

Straighten your arm with your palm facing down and bend your wrist so that your fingers point down.
• Gently pull your hand toward your body until you feel a stretch on the outside of your forearm.
• Hold the stretch for 15 seconds.
• Repeat 5 times, then perform this stretch on the other arm.

Tip Do not lock your elbow.

Additional instructions: This stretch should be done throughout the day, especially before activity.
After recovery, this stretch should be included as part of a warm-up to activities that involve gripping, such as gardening, tennis, and golf.

2. Wrist Flexion Stretch

3. Wrist Extension (Strengthening)

Equipment needed: Dumbbell hand weights (1 lb., 2 lbs., 3 lbs.)
Additional instructions: This exercise should be performed in stages. Begin each stage with no weight. When you are able to complete 30 repetitions on 2 consecutive days with no increase in pain, move forward in the program by increasing weight (begin with 1lb., advance to 2 lbs., end with 3 lbs.).

Repetitions: 30 reps,
1x a day

Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Stage 1: Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and support your forearm on a table with your wrist placed at the edge.
Stage 2: Straighten your elbow slightly. Continue to support your arm on the table.
Stage 3: Fully straighten your elbow and lift your arm so that it is no longer supported by the table.

Step-by-step directions to be followed for each stage
With palm down, bend your wrist up as far as possible.
• Hold up for 1 count, then slowly lower 3 counts.
• Begin without using a weight and increase the repetitions until you can complete 30.
• When you can perform 30 repetitions on 2 consecutive days
without increasing pain, begin performing the exercise using a 1 lb. weight.
• Follow the same steps above to continue to increase repetitions and weight until you are using a 3 lb. weight and can perform 30 repetitions on 2 consecutive days without increasing pain.

Wrist Extension Strengthening

Tip Do not let the weight pull your hand down too quickly.

4. Forearm Supination & Pronation (Strengthening)

Equipment needed: Dumbbell hand weights (1 lb., 2 lbs., 3 lbs.)
Additional instructions: This exercise should be performed in stages. Begin each stage with no
weight. When you are able to complete 30 repetitions on 2 consecutive days with no increase in
pain, move forward in the program by increasing weight (begin with 1lb., advance to 2 lbs., end
with 3 lbs.)

Repetitions: 30 reps,
1x a day

Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Stage 1: Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and support your forearm
on a table with your wrist placed at the edge.
Stage 2: Straighten your elbow slightly. Continue to support your
arm on the table.
Stage 3: Fully straighten your elbow and lift your arm so that it is
no longer supported by the table.

Step-by-step directions to be followed for each stage
Begin with palm facing the side. Slowly turn the palm facing up.
• Slowly return to the start position, then slowly turn the palm
down.
• Slowly return to start position. This completes one repetition.
• Begin without using a weight and increase the repetitions until you
can complete 30.
• When you can perform 30 repetitions on 2 consecutive days
without increasing pain, begin performing the exercise using a 1 lb.
weight.
• Follow the same steps above to continue to increase repetitions
and weight until you are using a 3 lb. weight and can perform
30 repetitions on 2 consecutive days without increasing pain.

Forearm Supination & Pronation (Strengthening)

Tip When using a dumbbell, try to let the weight pull your forearm in either direction as far as possible

5. Stress Ball Squeeze

Equipment needed: Rubber stress ball
Additional instructions: This exercise should be performed after completing the above staged strengthening
exercises. Your arm and elbow position for this exercise
should match the stage you are completing.

Repetitions: 10 reps,
1x a day

Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Tip When using a dumbbell, try to let the weight pull your forearm in either direction as far as possible

Stress Ball Squeeze

6. Finger Stretch

Equipment needed: Elastic band


Additional instructions: This exercise should be performed after completing the above staged strengthening exercises. Your arm and elbow position for this exercise should match the stage you are completing.

Repetitions: 10 reps,
1x a day

Days Per Week: 5 to 7

Tip When using a dumbbell, try to let the weight pull your forearm in either direction as far as possible

Finger Stretch