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Tennis Elbow and Elbow pain

You don’t have to be a tennis player to experience elbow pain.


Elbow pain referred to as tennis elbow can arise from several sources.  One cause is from pulling forces or strains to the muscles that attach to the end of the long bone of the upper arm during activities such as tennis or other racket sports.  One such muscle deeper in the forearm is called the supinator (A), which pivots or twists the bones in the forearm.  In racket sports this muscle is strained when you reach your racket out to return a serve or volley.  The stretching force is magnified by the fact that the racket increases the effective length of the arm and multiplies the force exerted on the muscles that move the elbow and wrist.  Since we are not born with tennis rackets in our hands the use of such devices creates strain patterns with overuse.  The result of constant strain on these muscles is what we refer to as “tennis elbow” although anyone who works strenuously with hand tools or musical instruments (especially mallets and drumsticks) can develop similar pain patterns.




The muscle that performs the opposite action of the supinator is the pronator teres (C) which is located on the inside of the forearm.  While the supinator turns your forearm and hand “palm up” the pronator turns the forearm and hand “palm down”.   There is a constant give and take between these muscles when rotating your forearm and wrist in any activity.  When putting spin on a serve or return volley in tennis these muscles are stressed maximally.  They contribute to forearm, elbow, wrist and hand pain.


Trigger points in these muscle refer pain into the elbow and the web between the index finger and thumb, too.  Massage these muscles by pressing deep into the muscles approximately one to two inches below the elbow joint on the outside of the forearm (see illustration).  Massage with fingertip or thumb strokes across the fiber direction and in line with the fibers to spread the fibers and lengthen them.  Turn the forearm back and forth as you press into the muscle.  Work on all of the muscles on both sides of the  forearm as well.


The supinator attachment to the lateral epicandyle of the humerus (B) is often strained and inflammed from repeated stretching forces as well.


Other muscles that cause pain in the elbow area are the triceps brachii on the back of the upper arm and the brachioradialis on the outside of the forearm.  





Topical application of PanAway essential oil blend or Deep Relief oil blend in a roll on dispenser to the elbow can provide relief of pain symptoms.  If you follow up the oil application with a warm or cool moist washcloth compress over the area. the oils will be pushed further into the tissues.  There are other essential oils such as Copaiba that have an anti-inflammatory effect on tissues.


Spiral Synergy


Pain and tension patterns in the muscles surrounding the elbow joint can be reduced using the simple positioning techniques of Spiral Synergy.  Following the principle of “ease of movement”, you move the elbow joint and forearm bones in all directions and note which positions are most comfortable.  Then, by putting the joint, bones and muscles into the most comfortable position (avoiding painful positions) add a gentle compression or push into the elbow joint.  This stimulates the nervous system and can lead to reprogramming of tension levels in the muscles that act on the joint.


Another Spiral Synergy technique uses tender spots in muscles around the elbow joint.  With this approach you locate tender areas in the muscles that attach to the boney prominences above and below the elbow joint.  Once located, you move the forearm around feeling for a position that creates slack or softness in the tender area thus relaxing the tissue and creating comfort in the joint.   A gentle compression or pushing force into the elbow stimulates the sensory receptors in the muscles and ligaments which can lead to a relaxation of tension and pain.


Check out the instructional DVD on Spiral Synergy for the arm.




Reflexology approach is to address the elbow reflex area near the large bump on the outside of the bottom of the foot.  Using finger or thumb pressure on this area stimulates the restorative powers of the body to bring balance to the associated structure.