My Flexbar recovery log

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Trainer, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Trainer

    Trainer Semi-Pro

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    I have a nasty case of TE. It gradually came on in the last half year, and I have mostly ignored it until about 3.5 weeks ago. I did get a cortisone shot in it about 6 weeks ago, but it only gave marginal relief. I played a tournament and a few matches after the shot, and the pain came back completely.

    I put down my racket 3.5 weeks ago and started the traditional strengthening and stretching rehab. I saw very little progress and decided to check out the flexbar....I have been using it for a week.

    So far, I'm very encouraged. I can already notice significant reduction in the pain. I've been doing the prescribed 15 reps 3X a day, along with stretching.

    My plan is to do this for 3 solid weeks before picking up a racket. Then I'll ease back onto the court with very limited hitting sessions.

    I have until Jan 22 when I have a tournament to go to....I hope to have a full recovery by then.

    I'll document my progress with it here...
     
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  2. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Thanks for posting your Flexbar trial.
    Was this your first case of tennis elbow?
    Is the pain localized to just the elbow area or does it involve more of the forearm? Did you do any forearm exercises before this started? What type of racquet and strings do you use? Do you think there was anything in your technique or practice routine that may have triggered the tennis elbow? Was the cortisone shot given by someone in sports medicine? Did you start your initial therapy with a therapist or trainer?

    Certainly you don't have to answer any questions if you don't want to, but it might make your experience more pertinant to others.
     
    #2
  3. Trainer

    Trainer Semi-Pro

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    Primarily right on the elbow. However there is pain on the top of forearm and when it was at it's worst, all the way to the hand.

    No

    Prince 03 Tour, 1/4 grip

    Hybrid luxilon and poly @ 60

    I suspect my 1hBh because that's where I feel the pain on the court, but I have also adjusted my serve a bit in the last year by closing my grip a bit more that I had been.

    I plan on talking to a Teaching pro and a kineseologist I know before I start playing again.

    Yes, he is a specialist.

    No, I followed a guide I got from the Hughston Clinic.

    Hope they help...
     
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  4. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    I would suggest dropping your tension down 10 lbs to approx 50lbs. Going away from poly would also help prevent return of TE. Play a soft syn gut like NRG or NXT or even natural gut at lower tension and you will probably not have much pain. Ofcourse you could play a more flexible or forgiving racket but not many choices in the modern rackets.
     
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  5. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Trainer- Any idea as to what brought it on? The use of poly strings at relatively high tension caught my attention. In addition, your mention of the BH makes me wonder about your technique on that stroke as this used to be problematic for me until I corrected my technique.

    Glad to hear the flexbar seems to be helping.
     
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  6. 86golf

    86golf Semi-Pro

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    So how is this different from doing "negatives" using the therabands?
    negative wrist curls while holding the orange theraband to provide negative resistance.
    Did you or have you incorporated the pronation/supination exercises with a hammer or pipe wrench?

    I'm doing what seems to be a similar execise with the therabands and need to understand how the flexbar would be different.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2009
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  7. Trainer

    Trainer Semi-Pro

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    Yea, I'm definitely going to go for a different string.

    Recommendations would be welcome. I know gut would be ideal, but I suspect I would have to get a second job because I'd rip it up quickly.

    I'm sure my technique could use some work also. I'm going to address that before I start playing again.
     
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  8. Trainer

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    I suspect that because the negative pressure is more consistently applied as you unwind the bar, it offers a better result. Maybe it's marginal, I don't know. I'm giving it a try to find out.

    Here are the exercises I'm did prior to the flex bar

    http://www.hughston.com/hha/a.seven.htm


    Again, I'm not a PT, but it does seem to offer more fluid and focused resistance than a band would. It also requires you to grip a handle shaped object to resist the force. That may be a difference also.
     
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  9. 86golf

    86golf Semi-Pro

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    The O3 Tour is about as comfortable as it gets. If you have the 100 sq in version I think you will find some control issues when switching from poly. I've found co-poly's to be comfortable in that frame but I don't go over 55 and I'll hybrid with titan.
     
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  10. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Thanks for the reply. It sounds as though you have been doing all the right things to recover, and I just wanted to have a better understanding of where you are starting from with your Flexbar trial. Oh, by the way, which color Flexbar are you using?
     
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  11. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    FWIW, my golfer's elbow has healed. I was able to hit hard serves and hard heavy topspin forehands today, even in this cold weather. Phew! I was a bit worried as this whole thing has taken 6 weeks out of my play.

    -Robert
     
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  12. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    This may be heretical to some, but I wouldn't be surprised if you weren't someone who later next year goes on to play with a hybrid of a multifilament (or natural gut) in the mains and a copoly in the crosses. If you string the mains a couple of pounds tighter than the crosses, you may get more of the shock absorbtion on the softer mains before the stiffness of the copoly kicks in.
    But in your initial comeback you really should try an all multifilament or natural gut setup, and not switch too soon until you have demonstrated you can get back to really hitting the ball. That also should give you time to develop more strength in your forearm with the Flexbar and reverse curls.
     
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  13. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Glad to hear you are better.
    Speaking of the cold, I wonder if it was good for my arm hitting half frozen pressureless balls for two hours on Saturday when the temperature did not get above 32 degrees? Or hitting an extra 100 practice serves?
     
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  14. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Congrats. I tried to play a tournament last week after 4 weeks off. I had to default in the 2nd set. Got some more treatment today, I'm hoping to try some serves again in 2 or 3 weeks.
     
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  15. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    I, too, was skeptical of the Flexbar. But finally, with all the talk about it, I couldn't resist getting a Flexbar blue when I saw the cost wasn't much more than $20. I definitely play less tennis in the winter, and do more working out, and like the idea I can take a break from paper work and do a little Flexbar twisting. It does seem to be a unique action through a full range of twisting motion, rather than the one dimentional flexion/extention exercises with dumbells or therabands, even if you do target anterior/posterior and lateral directions.
     
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  16. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    It later occurred to me that this might be a good excuse to start doing your own stringing, if you don't but have any desire to get started. Until I started stringing a couple of years ago I was hesitant to buy natural gut. But a half set for a hybrid isn't that much more than for a mutlifilament and I think it lasts longer because it is not as soft and doesn't get as much saw through. And I usually keep at least one frame in full natural gut for hitting and serving practice when I think I have been logging probably way too much tennis time, and want to give my arm a break even though I'm too stubborn/not smart enough to get off the court.
     
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  17. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Welll, clearly gut is the way to go initially. The arm problems trump anything else in my view. The comment about ripping it up is a tad disturbing though since this implies you must hit a pretty big ball. Do you also hit with lots of spin? There are some multi-filaments that are pretty forgiving and more economical. But gut is hard to beat in my view. I'm hesitant to recommend a hybrid at this stage. You really need to get better before considering this option.

    As for the technique issues, you absolutely need to address this or else you will find yourself sidelined pretty quickly. It took me the better part of 6 months to address and correct my BH. Well worth it since I avoided an inevitable long lay-off imposed by TE. I've not had TE for 5 years running.
     
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  18. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I hit with a ton of spin on every shot whether it is topspin or backspin. Any good soft strings out there that might last me more than 2 matches. I tried natty gut as a junior but it broke after 2.5 sets on me.
     
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  19. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Which color Flexbar did you purchase?
     
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  20. Trainer

    Trainer Semi-Pro

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    Green......
     
    #20
  21. volusiano

    volusiano Hall of Fame

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    Also to share: I bought a green and blue Theraband Flexbar myself a couple of weeks ago. I've been using the green one for 1.5 weeks as prescribed so far. The first week it seems to make my TE a little worse. The second week, no so bad, it doesn't get worse, but either neutral or a little better. During the exercises and right after, the pain seems to go away. But in between the exercises, the pain comes back erratically. But into the second week now, it seems easier to do the exercises and I feel less pain during the exercises.

    I had TE about 4 years ago and it went away after I changed racket and improved on techniques. It came back about a month ago I think because of overuse (I started playing twice as much the last couple of months, 4-5 times a week singles only instead of the usual 2-3 times). I had a 1hbh, but I don't think it contributed to my second round of TE because I'd been TE free for 4 years with the 1hbh. But once the TE developed, it hurts playing 1hbh so I switched to 2hbh and it allows me to keep playing. I play about once a week now since my TE is mild enough to allow it. I'm hoping the Flexbar will help speed up my recovery and allow me to go back to my normal schedule of 2-3 times a week. But we'll see.

    I use heavier rackets (12.5oz) and HL (8-10 pts) with low flex. I have a couple of PK5Gs, a Prince O3 Tour, Yonex RDS1, Wilson N6.1 95, and a Head Flexpoint Radical Tour. I use full polys like SPPP, Topspin Cyberflash, WeissCannon MatchPower & Silver strung at 60lbs. I'm considering trying out the budget NG like Gaucho or Global but I'm a little hesitant after hearing how they break so easily while stringing or in the bag. I can't afford Babolat VS right now and I bought the polys by the reels so I gotta use them up anyway. Or maybe put them up for sale. For sure I'll string the poly lower at 50-55 lbs next time if I don't switch to gut yet. But if I want to play more (4-5 times a week) after I fully recover, I'm pretty sure I gotta dump the polys and try the guts.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
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  22. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    My guess would be the poly is exacerbating the elbow.
     
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  23. chess9

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    The holidays come at a perfect time for me. I don't play again until Monday. I hope to be 100% on serves and forehands by then. I so want to hit some balls at 90 mph. ;)

    Good luck to you and Charlie. And happy holidays!

    -Robert
     
    #23
  24. ebrainsoft

    ebrainsoft Rookie

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    This seems like an extremely small grip for an adult, I use a heavy racquet with a 4 5/8 grip and I do NOT have any tennis elbow.

    Here is a quote and link from the Bosworth website:

    "It takes more pressure to hold a smaller handle stable than it does to hold a larger handle. This is of course relative to your hand size. A handle that is too small will cause you to squeeze too tight, setting you up for greater shock to your wrist and elbow. If you suffer from arm problems, play with the largest handle that you can comfortably hold."
    http://www.bosworthtennis.com/pages/myths.html
     
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  25. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, I don't like playing this time of year anyways. The cool weather and the dim light are not good for my game. My goal is to be 100 percent by spring when my game really kicks into gear.
     
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  26. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    I also use the green flexbar. The blue is just way to hard to twist. They need something in between the green (10 lbs force) and the blue (25 lbs force).

    The thing that helped me most was switching from a 1HBH to a 2hander. The 1hander is like the plague to TE sufferers. I can hit 2 handers all day without any elbow pain. Took me about 1 month to get used to it, but now its natural.
     
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  27. Trainer

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    Just a short update. Almost 2 weeks now. I still haven't picked up a racket. I'm doing the exercises regularly. There is almost no pain at all during the exercise, and the pain on the elbow has reduced significantly. A week ago, I could easily put my fingers on the sore spot by massaging the area, but now, it has almost disappeared.

    I have another week before I pick up a racket...

    All for now.
     
    #27
  28. gully

    gully Semi-Pro

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    Hi, Trainer, best of luck with your recovery.

    I just wanted to add to the string discussion. I too switched to natural gut hybrided in mains with a co-poly cross during my recovery, and I was very pleasantly surprised at the durability. Using Tonic+, I was able to keep a set for far longer than I ever left a poly or other string in the bed, and as it turns out, the natural gut hybrid is far more economical for me than any other setup.

    I eventually switched to a soft frame, the Fischer Progressor. But I thought the strings made a world of difference in terms of comfort.

    One last: during the recovery, I would also advise being a little careful about the balls you use.
     
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  29. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Do yourself a favor and do not use poly when you return.
     
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  30. Trainer

    Trainer Semi-Pro

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    OK, so when I go to get my raquets strung, what brand name strings. Links would be helpful.
     
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  31. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    No poly's or co-poly's or you'll be right back where you started. I recommend natural gut if you can afford it (VS or Tonic). You can probably string it tighter to retain some control. If you want something more economical, a decent multi like NXT might work. You will likely have to adjust your game somewhat if you are used to hitting out with the poly.

    Oh, I would keep at it with the flexbar as a preventative measure.
     
    #31
  32. Trainer

    Trainer Semi-Pro

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    What is the consensus on synthetic gut?
     
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  33. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Global gut... or anything but poly/kevlar.
     
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  34. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I'll be using some Maxim Touch this week and I'll try and let you know if they feel softer than synthetic guts I've used.
     
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  35. Trainer

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    Right now I've got poly in the mains and big banger in the crosses. Strung at 60. Going to get a synth gut @ 58. Will I notice a big difference in the way they play. I hit with a lot of topspin, especially with my fh.

    I also saw the comment on the grip size right now it's 41/4. With an over grip. Not changing rackets, but would two overgrips be a problem.

    I have an important tourney on Jan 22. I don't want to change too much.
     
    #35
  36. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    The strings will be entirely different from what you used before, It's no wonder you developed TE using poly at such a high tension. Stringing with synth gut at 58 will feel very soft comparatively speaking. You may need to monkey around with your tension ot get the same degree of control.

    As for the grip size, I suspect you will be ok.
     
    #36
  37. Trainer

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    Well, sort of discouraged.

    Played this weekend. Borrowed a racket. Yonex, RDS 03 w/a 4 1/2 grip, Multifilament at 56. Supposedly a very arm friendly racket. I liked the racket. Felt more pop on my serves and shots. Had plenty of control.

    However, my arm pain is back in full fashion. It was never completely gone, but I had hopes that an easy doubles match that would be a place to start. I'm less than 20 days away from my tournament.

    I know my Forearm strength is better, but the underlying pain is still prevalent.

    Sux to be me.
     
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  38. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I played yesterday too. The elbow is a little sore but I have been icing it which is helping. The Maxim Touch was great. I've never hit with a string so soft. I'm definitely sticking with that for a little while.
     
    #38
  39. jrod

    jrod Hall of Fame

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    Trainer- Hate to state the obvious but the set-up you used is not what I'd consider to be arm-friendly. My sense is if you wish to return to the game without enduring pain, you need to use a frame with lower flex (60 or lower) and reduce your tension. I realize this represents a radical change from what you've used in the past, but it's not as radical as not playing at all.

    I suggest you try a Fisher or Volkl frame strung with gut or a soft multi in the low 50's next time out. Good luck mate.
     
    #39
  40. sidzej

    sidzej Rookie

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    Trainer - from my TE experience, I had to either drop tension on multis to high40s up to max 52 (I used X-1 or Gamma Prof) or use natural gut, where I can go as high as 54. Anything above that and I start to feel it. Some multis at high tensions (close to 60) are no longer so soft. They lose the elasticity and become more stiff.

    Since I switched to Gut or combination of gut/syn gut (in later stage), I have no pain. However, I am still hesitating to increase my tension to high 50s. Just to add: I am using Pro Kennex KI5 and Fischer Magnetic Tour 100 SL - very soft and arm-friendly rackets.
     
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  41. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I switched to a stick with a stiffness of 63, soft multi (Maxim Touch) at the lowest recommended tension. I also went down to 17 gauge. My stringer is a lock-out type so that produces an even lower tension. The ball rockets off the strings with a lack of control, but right now I'm not playing to win. I'm playing to get out on the court a few days later!
     
    #41
  42. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    Recovery from tendinitis/tendinosis takes a great deal of time. I suggest you take time off and not worry about tournaments.

    Also, do not confuse muscle strength with tendon strength. Any exercise can increase muscle strength right away, but your tendon first needs healing and then strengthening.

    It does not take much resistance to do rehab for tendons. In fact, most men apply too much resistance, since they are wired to think "muscles" rather than "tendons". Always go for much less weight than you think is right for your strength. That tendon of yours is at a very delicate stage. Treat it like a baby.
     
    #42
  43. jbravo

    jbravo New User

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    A couple of thoughts..... it sounds to me from your description that you may have a death-grip on the racket. Too tight a grip will cause forearm soreness not to mention that your arm will absorb every vibration. I doubt any "arm friendly" raquet will help in that case.

    Second thought is that using a new racket takes time to learn the feel so you will not be hitting the sweet spot as often the first few times using it, thus increasing the amount of vibration your arm is absorbing.

    I've been using the Flexbar (green) for four weeks along with stretching and wrist curls with low weight and I can definitely tell an improvement in my arm. The pain is not totally gone but it's nothing like what I experienced before.
    Good luck... I know it is frustrating.
     
    #43
  44. zacinnc78

    zacinnc78 Professional

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    trainer ,take it from somebody who beat TE ,use this:http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Band-IT_Elbow_Brace/descpageACGAMMA-BANDIT.html

    put it on and wear it all day every day even in your sleep.....just tighten it extra when doing any activities,loosen it during rest

    youve already did the damage to the tendons and its like a scab that keeps tearing off and bleeding again when u play b4 its healed

    and dont forget the rubber band exercise where u spread your fingers out while they are wrapped with a rubber band

    last but not least,check your backhand technique and make sure u grip it eastern bh grip with a layed back wrist(dont ever drop your wrist) you wanna keep your hand more behind the grip instead of on top of the grip

    youll be able to use polys soon enough
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
    #44
  45. TheJRK

    TheJRK Rookie

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    You're not going to rip up that nat-gut as easily as you think you are since you shouldn't be swinging too hard while in recovery mode.

    I used nat-gut (VS) strung at 57lbs while I was recovering from TE and it lasted for 3 months. Just gotta take it easy... took me almost a year to be pain free and I did the exact same thing as you:

    cortizone shot
    rest
    use gut strings
    play "old man tennis" i.e. flat Jimmy Connors forehand (ice after every hit)
    use the theraband
    slowly get stronger
    start to hit regular topspin forehand - SW grip
    cured
    :)
     
    #45
  46. 86golf

    86golf Semi-Pro

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    Trainer-I don't think you can realistically be in tourney form by 1/22..do you? If this was league play (one match per week) I'd say go for it, but a tournament where you might play 4 matches in 3 days, I don't think it is a good idea.

    Restring your O3 tour with NXT at the low range and don't think about other racquets. O3 Tour is as good as it gets for comfort.

    Try some Aleve therapy. 2 first day, then one a day for a week (no tennis or other stress to elbow this week). Then take one the night before you plan on playing and see how it goes.

    If you are dead set on playing in the tourney, you only have one option: another steroid shot.

    Also, I agree with Zac on the grip but would go one farther and suggest switching to extreme eastern on the BH side. It provides so much more support to the forearm and elbow by getting you hand behind the racquet.
     
    #46
  47. Trainer

    Trainer Semi-Pro

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    A few things...

    Well, I went to the Tournament...

    First match no problem... Won easily

    Second match was 4 hours later...

    Not so good, but memorable...

    Halfway throught first set my arm lit up...

    Lost the first set 7-5

    Second set, could barely lift my arm...Was reduced to blocking, lobbing, slicing, etc...Forehand shot was excruciating...Much more than the Backhand..

    We were down 5-1 in the second. They were serving for the match...

    We broke, came back and won the set...I was doing just enough to keep the point going, my partner stepped up and was playing out of his mind...

    We won the match in a 3rd set tiebreaker... The other team was so absolutely frustrated. First they started cussing about their own shots, then they started arguing with each other...

    Anyway, that took me out of the tournament...and out of tennis indefinitely...

    Second...

    I'm gonna try to learn a 2 handed backhand.

    I've heard a good way is to learn to hit a forehand with the opposite arm. So that's my plan, during my recovery, I'll hit against a wall with my other arm....

    Thoughts.???
     
    #47
  48. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Sorry to hear the elbow acted up during the tournament.

    But in retrospect, do you think coming back to play more than one match in a day was the best way to test out your arm?

    Usually it's recommended to come back very slowly, first with "mini-tennis" and then with short ralley sessions that are gradually lengthened.

    I love your determination to pick up a left handed forehand as an introduction to a two handed backhand. You must be a lot closer to being ambidextrous than me.
     
    #48
  49. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I ripped a few lefty serves today during a break. Probably a bad idea. Something in my brain really wants to switch hands. The motion is not natural yet, but I don't think it would take long.
     
    #49
  50. jimanuel12

    jimanuel12 Semi-Pro

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    Location:
    Kentucky
    i think you have returned to tennis too soon

    believe me, i know about TE.
    i have not had TE in years until last spring, went to a wilson hyper hammer racket, worst mistake i ever made.
    have had TE now for over 7 months and it take TIME to heal, i think you have returned way too soon to tennis.
    you did the same thing i did, i returned to play way too soon and just reinjured the arm again and again, that is why it has taken so long to heal.
    if you do the ice, exercises and stay off the court, you will heal faster, if you continue to play, you will just re-injure the arm and it will take a long long time to heal.
    just some advice from a guy who has already been there.
     
    #50

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