TheraBand FlexBar Treatment of Tennis Elbow

Treatment of tennis elbow pain with new strengthening technique

A Thera-Band FlexBar used for the treatment of tennis elbow. Photo © www.PriceGrabber.com

A new treatment for tennis elbow uses a strengthening tool called the TheraBand FlexBar to relieve tennis elbow pain. Traditional treatment of tennis elbow pain has focused on avoiding most activities of the elbow and forearm in an effort to avoid "overuse" of the tendons that are irritated in tennis elbow. However, new research is looking at the role of strengthening exercises and how these can be used to alleviate the pain of tennis elbow.

Studies Support Treating Tennis Elbow with Eccentric Exercise

A study presented at the 2009 American Society of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting looked at patients who have had tennis elbow that has not improved with traditional treatments. Half of the patients in this study used a special exercise tool called a TheraBand FlexBar to perform strengthening exercises of the forearm. These exercises are specifically designed to perform eccentric strengthening maneuvers -- a technique that has been successful in patients with Achilles tendonitis pain.

The study found that the patients who used the TheraBand FlexBar had better success than patients who did not use this specific tool. This was a preliminary study, and very few patients were tested. Therefore, more research is needed before determining if this type of exercise is the answer to tennis elbow pain. However, this is certainly a safe treatment that has none of the possible side effects of medications or injections -- treatments often used for tennis elbow.

The paper was published in the North American Journal of Sports and Physical Therapy in 2010.

A further review of studies, published in 2012, found that all studies using resistance exercise had good results for improving pain and grip strength. Most of these studies were of eccentric exercise. The exercise programs were variable in duration and how often the patients performed the exercises, from a month to a full year in duration and once to six times per day.

With this high variation, the study didn't draw any conclusions as to how often and for how long the exercises should be performed.

Eccentric Exercises with the TheraBand Flexbar

The eccentric exercises done with the TheraBand Flexbar are shown in the research paper and on the TheraBand web site and with the product when sold. For this example, it is the right arm that has the tennis elbow pain and it is called the involved side.  The bar is held in the right hand so it is upright vertically at the center of your body. You grab the top end with your left hand and twist the left wrist so that now the bar is out in front of the body but horizontal and both elbows fully extended. The left wrist is fully flexed while the right wrist is fully extended. Then you slowly allow your right wrist to untwist into full flexion.

Buy TheraBand Flexbar at Amazon.com: The Flexbar is made from dry, natural rubber and it is a foot long. They are available in different diameters that take more or less force to bend into a U shape.

It has ridges to make it easier to grip.

Sources:

"Easy Strength Training Exercise May Help Treat Tennis Elbow, Study Shows" American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, Annual Meeting. 7/11/2009.

Phil Page, "A new exercise for tennis elbow that works," N Am J Sports Phys Ther, 2010 5(3):189-93

Raman J, MacDermid JC, Grewal R.. "Effectiveness of different methods of resistance exercises in lateral epicondylosis--a systematic review." J Hand Ther. 2012 Jan-Mar;25(1):5-25; quiz 26. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2011.09.001.

 

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