Can a certain racket really help protect against tennis elbow/shoulder ?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by TimeToPlaySets, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    I have seen this mentioned a few timers in the forum.

    I always used to dismiss "tennis elbow" as a kid in the 80s. I never got it, and would play 5 hours at a stretch.

    Getting back into it, now I'm at the age where I can get little nagging issues. And, I hit harder than ever.

    What types of rackets are bad for this? Which save your joints?
    Is it the one's with extra dampeners? Cortex?

    So, if Babolat's Cortex DOES absorbs some shock away from your own joints,
    I can get on board with that. At 3.0, I am not good enough to need the more subtle feel.

    The purist might not like Cortex, but for a weekend warrior, Cortex and others are probably a good risk/reward or cost/benefit proposition. Right?

    Or, is it all BS?
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
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  2. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    [​IMG]

    The Cortex system is designed to reduce harmful frame shock & vibrations from reaching the arm (shoulder, elbow, wrist). While the system may very well do this to some extent, I'm not certain that it does it well enough to qualify any of the Babolat frames as arm-friendly. Many of Babolat's frames are considered to be a bit harsh by some/many users. There appears to be 2 versions of the Cortex system. The system pictured on the right (above), is used in the "Pure" series. The Cortex version shown on the left, is used in other Babolat frames.

    There are quite a few threads in the Racquet forum that discuss racquets that are considered to be arm-friendly frames by users. The ones that are at the top of my list are the following:

    Volkl V1 Classic
    Prince O3 Hybrid Shark (MP)
    Prince ExO3 100 (both versions ok, tho the 16x18 might be slightly better)
    ProKennex (various frames in the Kinetic and Ionic series)

    Other possibilities to consider:

    Prince ExO3 Rebel 95
    Volkl Organix V1 (MP ok, OS?)
    Volkl DNX 10 (MP)
    Volkl PowerBridge 10 (MP)
    ProKennex Ki Q series
    Boris Becker Delta Core London
    Pacific (formerly Fischer; various frames0
    Donnay (various frames)

    Here are a few links for more ideas on this subject. The Babolat Pure Storm Ltd GT is listed in a secondary group. Ironically, I don't believe that any of the Babolat frames mentioned in the 2nd and 3rd groups use the Cortex system (NO Babolat frames appear in the top arm-friendly group).

    http://ggtennis.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/arm-friendly-tennis-racquets
    http://www.racquetresearch.com
     
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  3. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I call BS on those Cortex thingies. Even the ad uses the word "vibration." But it's shock that you want to avoid, not vibration. I don't think any one frame can cause tennis elbow. But, I think certain types of frames can accelerate the onset of tennis elbow due to bad technique/fitness.

    Stiffer frames will transmit more shock to the arm. Rubber gimmicks do nothing on shock.
     
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  4. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I can tell you from personal experience, that my Babolat Cortex frames did not help my elbow one bit. The frames I owned were the Aero Storm Tour GT and the AeroPro Drive GT, both of which had the Cortex system designed to dampen the most vibration. There are numerous posts on this board from people who had arm problems with Babolat Cortex frames.

    After I switched to the Pro Kennex Ki 5x, my elbow improved and my game improved, largely because I was free to swing away like I did when I was younger. The arm-friendliest racquets I tried were:

    Prince EXO3 Tour 100 (most comfortable)
    Volkyl Organix 10 325 (next most comfortable)
    Pacific X Force Pro
    Pro Kennex Ki 5, Ki 5x, and Ki 5 PSE

    I suspect that the other racquets in SystemicAnomaly's list are arm-friendly as well. The Ki 5x was actually the least comfortable of all the racquets on the list that I tested, but it fit my game the best, and it was certainly much easier on my arm than the Babolat Cortex racquets I owned.
     
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  5. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    It is true the string dampeners will reduce some string vibrations but will do nothing about frame shock. I suspect that the version of the Cortex system that maximizes comfort may reduce a little bit of frame shock in addition to reducing frame vibrations.

    For a couple of years (nearly 10 yrs ago), I was using a very light racquet (under 10 oz). I believe that this racquet delivered quite a bit of shock to my arm and resulted in shoulder damage to my arm. Very light frames, in general, tend to produce more shock than heavier ones. Best to go with the heaviest frame that is comfortable for your arm.

    Frame shock is related to shoulder crunch, elbow crunch & wrist crunch. Some racquets deliver quite a bit more of this shock to the arm than others.

    http://www.racquetresearch.com/sevencri.htm#Shock
    http://www.racquetresearch.com/sevencri.htm#Shoulder Crunch

    In general, stiffer frames tend to produce more shock than more flexible ones. However, this is not really the best criteria for determining the shock delivered to the arm. The Volkl V1 Classic has a rather high stiffness rating (~69) but is considered by many to be the most arm-friendly racquet on the market. OTOH, a number of users have reported some racquets with very low stiffness ratings (~50-60) that were not arm-friendly at all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
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  6. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Yes, rackets and strings can help prevent or ease elbow pain. But, if you have an inflamed and hurting elbow, you need to rest it for about 30 days.

    Volkl rackets in general are excellent for comfort and reducing vibrations. Pro Kinnex too.

    Soft strings and lower tensions like gut or multis in the 50-55 lb range can help too. Poly should be strung low 40-52 lbs for comfort. You can still bet plenty of control and tension from poly at these tensions
     
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  7. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    If you have elbow problems, I would suggest avoiding poly altogether, at least until your elbow fully heals. I've tried poly as low as 35 pounds. I've tried hybrids with poly in the mains and poly in the crosses. I've tried co-polys that were supposed to be softer and longer lasting than older polys. No matter how I string it, poly feels ok for about 3-5 hours, then when it loses elasticity that's when my elbow feels it. I have a sensitive arm, and in my experience, gut or a soft multifilament between 50-60 pounds is much better for your arm than poly at any tension.
     
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  8. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    A lot of issues.

    First, racquets and strings (not to mention gadgets and doodads) do not improve TE. Tennis by it's nature is tough on elbows. Certain setups are less stressful, others are more stress on the elbow, but not playing tennis is the only way to improve TE. The goal is to be able to play tennis and keep the stress level below the threshold for causing pain.

    Soft strngs, low tensions, flexible heavy yet headlight sticks are optimal.

    Dampeners do nothing for TE.

    Various racquet tech (beyond weight, balance and flexibility) may or may not help but my guess is their influence, if it exists at all, is minor compared to the above stats.

    Stroke mechanics and time spent playing the game are probably the other big factors.
     
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  9. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

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    Yes, a racket can decrease the likelihood of TE. However, there isn't a one-fits-all frame that can do it. Each person's swing speed and technique are very unique.

    As others have eluded to, there is an amount of shock when racket meets ball. Dampeners and cortex technology don't alleviate shock...they simply lessen the sensation of vibration.

    The only formula I have found for finding a racket that is "arm friendly" is trial and error. Some folks need a very heavy and very stiff frame. The other extreme is folks that prefer very light and flexible frames. The goal should be to find (by trial and error) the heaviest and stiffest frame that you can play with. Problem is that what I consider heavy, the next guy thinks is light.
     
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  10. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    A lot of talk about proper form.
    Can someone explain what exactly is the BAD way to swing that causes TE?
    Excessive wristy top spin?
     
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  11. BORISK

    BORISK Rookie

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    Can someone explain what exactly is the BAD way to swing that causes TE?

    Too close to your body.
     
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  12. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    FYI...Pro Kennex makes some pretty bold claims that their Kinetic technology is the only one proven by independent scientific research to reduce shock and vibration. Here's a video that explains it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHjny9jjTHQ

    I know you have to take the information with a grain of salt when you hear it from a Pro Kennex rep, but the difference I noticed between the Ki 5x and the Babolat APDGT over a period of a few weeks was astounding.

    Also, this is not meant to take away from the other racquets I mentioned in my previous post, which actually felt more comfortable than the Ki 5x. I probably would have noticed big improvements in my elbow with any of those racquets.
     
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  13. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    A slappy one handed BH (since the tendon strain that is TE is the one strained by the BH, the one strained by FHs causes Golfer's elbow, not TE).
     
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  14. usta2050

    usta2050 Rookie

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    +1, cortex is a marketing gimmick.
     
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  15. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Not too certain about that. As the TW racquet (technology) reviews mention, there are 2 versions of the Cortex technology used in Babolat raquets. One of these might have some effect on frame vibration and perhaps only a marginal effect, if any, on shock. The other version may very well have a greater effect -- it may very well offer some moderate dampening and isolation.

    Babolat racquets seem to have a reputation for being arm-hostile (unfriendly). However, from TW tester reviews it appears that some of the Babolat frames have very good comfort ratings. Even so, I would not suggest most, if any, Babolat racquets to someone seeking an arm-friendly frame.
     
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  16. Ramon

    Ramon Hall of Fame

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    I think there are now 3 Cortex systems that you'll commonly find today in Babolat racquets. These are the 2 older systems:
    [​IMG]
    The one on the left is found in the Aero series of racquets and is supposed to be the more comfortable version of the two. The one on the right is on the previous (pre-2012) Pure Drive and filters out less vibrations to give more feel (probably due to complaints about earlier PD's having a hollow feel).

    The newest Cortex system is the Active Cortex on the 2012 Pure Drive.
    [​IMG]
    Unfortunately, the description of the new technology on TW and Babolat's websites are vague. It reminds me of when a company says "new and improved". Sometimes there's truth to it, and sometimes it's nothing more than a marketing gimmick or even an excuse to make a change that lowers manufacturing costs. If anyone knows anything about the new Active Cortex, feel free to chime in.

    In my personal experience with the Aero Storm Tour GT and AeroPro Drive GT, I found both frames to be harsh on the elbow. Both of them have what is supposedly the more comfortable version of the original Cortex system. Judging by the abundance of posts associating the ADPGT and PD to tennis elbow, it seems I'm not alone in thinking that these particular models are not good for players with elbow problems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
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  17. stringertom

    stringertom G.O.A.T.

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    The laws of physics cannot be ignored...lighter objects vibrate more when an equal force is applied to them. Ergo, play with as heavy a racquet as you can to generate needed racquethead speed to impart spin. Likewise, hollow objects vibrate more than solid items. Ergo, stay away from wider profile frames...they have much more "open" space inside the racquethead. If you choose Babolat, the Pure Storms are gonna be better but not ideal.

    One thing I've found is my arm usually only hurts from off-center hits. If your skill level is such you can play with a smaller head, denser pattern, straightish beam (22mm or less), then choose a soft, thin, playable string (no polys) at moderate to low tensions and restring frequently. That should keep the Advil in the medicine chest.

    If you want a new stick, try the aforementioned Pro Kennex Kinetics...the lower numbers in the series will work best. Also, Yonex' isometric head shape makes for a bigger sweetspot, resulting in less jarring ball impact.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
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  18. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    My brother swears by this tennis elbow strap. Does anyone else feel these things help? Or just more placebo marketing snake oil?

    http://tinyurl.com/8nodd3h
     
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  19. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    delete delete
     
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  20. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    It has free floating lead pellets inside frame which add weight to the frame via momentum. In the video, he says it’s like going from 11oz to 13oz.

    This comment made me wonder what my Dunlop weighs. Lo and behold, I went to the grocery store after tennis today, and noticed a produce scale.
    After loading up the trunk, I took my racket into the store and weighed it. Yea, that was awkward. .78 pounds = 12.48 ounces. So, if 13oz is good for tennis elbow, one pack of lead tape can get it over 13oz. I will do this, and demo the Pro Kennex as well.

    What about the Ki5 ”PSE”? This weighs 13 ounces, instead of 11.5 ounces (Ki5) Heavier is better for the elbow, right?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
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  21. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    To answer your question, in my experience, no. However, keeping a loose, relaxed, grip through contact on every shot has CURED my TE. When your grip is loose, the shock of contact stops in your hand and doesn't transfer to your arm. A loose relaxed grip at contact also has the benefits of more power and more consistent clean ball striking. Conversely, tightening your grip at contact allows the shock of contact to transfer to your arm, reduces racquet head speed, and alters your swing path impairing clean ball striking.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
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  22. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    I second that; it has made the most difference for me long term.

    My opinion ... I found that wearing one throughout the day greatly reduced elbow pain throughout the day, and that aids healing -- because anything you do that causes pain is counterproductive towards healing.

    As for wearing one of those when playing, I do that sometimes. In my experience, when wearing an elbow band allows you to play with no elbow pain whatsoever (assuming you are NOT taking painkillers), then it is allowing you to safely play sooner than you would without it. However, if wearing the band merely reduces the pain to the point that you can ignore the pain while playing, then by wearing the band and continuing to play you are increasing the damage and lengthening the time it will take for recovery.
     
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  23. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    After a winter off, I have been playing again, and I have zero issues with my elbow.
    (I technically has golfer's elbow, the INNER elbow would hurt)

    First, I am using the Dunlop Pro Revelation 90 racket from the 1990s.
    Always loved this racket, and never had TE issues in my younger years using this racket.

    I think my tennis elbow from last summer just was a case of too much tennis, too soon.
    I played 3 days in a row, flared up the TE, and the TE never went away.
    Now, I am pretty smart about limiting my play to once a week.
    I think this has a lot to do with it.

    I did some weight training over the winter, so maybe that has something to do with it.
    I barely used the Blue Therabar. Maybe a handful of times at my desk.

    I plam to keep doing heavy weight training all summer.
    I plan to keep using the Blue Therabar all summer, as well.
    I will try to do 50 every day, and get a burn in my forearm, if I can remember.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2013
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  24. 6789

    6789 New User

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    yes: prince exo3 red has helped greatly

    Also Head FXP strings at 57 have helped.
     
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  25. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Two years ago I got TE and it was pretty rotten. Played with a sub-10oz stick, head heavy, extra long, wide beam, 74 stiffness, junk string. It was the perfect vehicle coupled with too many hours of tennis to do me in.

    Nevertheless, your stick weighs 12.48 ounces so that is respectable and that weight it helpful for minimizing arm problems. Sure more weight would help but the weight you have now is sufficient. As others said other changes would help:

    • Heavy racquet
    • Thin beam (bends more)
    • open pattern (but not a necessity)
    • Normal lenghth 27" (just don't use the extended 27.5" racquets)
    • Natural gut or multi fillament strings
    • Lower tension (but not necessary if you use natural gut)

    Someone commented on the Prince EXO3. The 16/18 pattern is better on the arm than the 18/20 version as I used each for a year. Easier on the arm only because it's a more open string pattern (less strings and farther apart). Both sticks are crazy comfy which is why I use them.
     
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  26. DirtBaller4

    DirtBaller4 Rookie

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    Bent arm Backhand

    I notice if I hit my OHBH without straightening my arm I get a sore elbow. I use volkl rackets and the stiffer racquets definitely amplify this but certainly don't cause it.
     
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  27. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Rookie

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    In hindsight, this whole racket weighs 12.34532 ounces is probably bunk. What solved my TE was a ton of rest and not playing too often. I could probably use a lead baseball bat as a racket and not get TE, as long as I limit my play. For me, that is going to be once a week, and no TE issues to speak of.
     
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