Elbow pain? How? Is there really a more arm friendly setup than mine?

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by Sam F, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. Sam F

    Sam F New User

    Aug 27, 2009
    I’m a 4.5-ish player trying to get back into the game after about 18 years and shoulder surgery 2.5 years ago. My shoulder seems to be doing better, but I’m now developing some elbow pain. It began after I played a tournament 2 weeks ago. Know I played more then than in years and was nervous so I muscled the ball rather than using a loose & relaxed swing. I’ve practiced a few times since then and the elbow pain is becoming more noticeable. So I’m getting disheartened and am wondering if there’s any racket setup that would be significantly better for my arm.

    I know the rules about flex, string types, string tension, swing weight, and shock. Accordingly I use a Fischer M Pro No. 1 98 SL (flex 58, strung weight 11.8 oz, sw 317, and 7 points head light), Babolat Racquet Vibration System Dampener (RVS), and Pacific Classic Natural Gut 17 at around 50 lbs. Next time I’ll try stringing at 45 lbs (Fischer recommends 45-65 lbs).

    So, is there really anything I can do equipment wise that might help? Thanks ahead of time for any help!
  2. karophiteblu

    karophiteblu Semi-Pro

    Mar 22, 2010
    Maybe you should go to your coach and have him inspect your form. TE is caused by bad form a lot of times. Your setup is really arm-friendly as far as I know.
    You should also do some cool down stretches that involve grabbing your fingers and pull them toward you with your arm straight out. (both up and down) You can find other stretches if you search google
  3. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

    Jul 29, 2006
    Bad form can cause it.

    Also you could wear a tennis elbow band as something to mitigate the shock going to your elbow.

    And most importantly you should be doing theraband style exercises for that area to keep things strong. Once you're in your 30's and beyond you can't *just* play a lot of tennis without high risk of some sort of injury. You need to strengthen the vulnerable areas - forearm, elbow, shoulder, legs, etc.
  4. hoosierbr

    hoosierbr Hall of Fame

    Jul 12, 2005
    Your setup is arm friendly but incredibly low powered which means you'll have to put more pressure on that shoulder and elbow to get any sort of juice on the ball. In a way you're cancelling out the benefits of your racquet and string setup as a result.

    I agree that TE comes mainly from poor technique as does shoulder problems. Not enough turn, not enough of a swing into the ball, chasing after bad ball tosses on the serve.

    I've had shoulder problems myself for the first time ever this year. Chronic tendinitis. Best advice I can offer is old school - stretch before and after, ice right after for 15-20 mins and again before you got to bed if you can. Keep any inflammation and swelling to a minimum. Perhaps some thermacare patches with Ben gay and other creams to keep those muscles loose.
  5. stringtight

    stringtight New User

    Jun 9, 2010
    I am also a 4.5 player with a shoulder and elbo problem for the past year until, I bought a Volkl C-10 Pro!!!!! You really need to try this one. Most arm friendly racquet out there. I even string mine with a poly hybred. Totally cured my pain!!!
  6. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

    Aug 27, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    You will doing yourself a big favor by trying a volkl / becker frame. I originally started playing with Volkls as a solution to a bad elbow that I actually injured lifting garden stones. I have since given this advise to at least 5 players who were having elbow problems. All of them are still playing volkl to this day and one of them buys me a bottle of really expensive wine every year to thank me for giving him the volkl tip. He reckons that he would not still be playing with out it.
    It has to do with the cushion in the handle of the racket. Very plush feel that many do not like but it's easy on the elbow. Although he's sponsored by Wilson, the head pro at my club keeps a volkl strung and ready for action when his arm stats acting up.

  7. kiteboard

    kiteboard Legend

    Jun 18, 2009
  8. Rockitdog

    Rockitdog Banned

    May 14, 2010
    What kiteboard is suggesting is going out and paying $350+ for a racquet (which to me is absurd) and that will magically make all your troubles go away :roll:

    Listen to those posters above suggesting that you take a look at your form. Whenever my elbow causes pain, I try and step back hit fundamentally sound shots and be intentional about really focusing on my form and that always helps me out.
  9. vsbabolat

    vsbabolat G.O.A.T.

    Nov 19, 2005
    You have a excellent arm friendly set-up. It is possible that you are doing something in your technique that would cause your elbow pain. But it's hard for me to know conclusively with never having seen you play. I suggest you ice your elbow immediately after you get done playing. While you play I suggest you use the Aircast Pneumatic ArmBand. In my opinion that is the best Tennis elbow band on the market. http://www.aircast.com/index.asp/fuseaction/products.detail/cat/4/id/32

    Remember icing is very important after Tennis.
  10. danix

    danix Semi-Pro

    Apr 6, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    You're in a good spot. To add to the discussion and re-summarize:
    - have your form evaluated by a pro
    - string looser for more power
    - if you try different frames, the Volkl C10 Pro and PK Ki5PSE would be the only two I would suggest trying. I'm arm sensitive myself and using the Becker London but it's a bit stiffer and lighter than I would recommend for a 4.5 with arm problems.
    - get a prescription for PT and try strengthening

    Finally, it's possible you just overdid it. Take a week off, rest, ice, see how it feels.
  11. anirut

    anirut Legend

    Feb 26, 2005
    Krungthep (Bangkok), Siam (Thailand)
    From the set up, things are already looking good. I'd suggest you take a look into your form, as you have mentioned: "... I muscled the ball rather than using a loose & relaxed swing."

    I have a friend who's got a bad form, like hitting a 1HBH bending the elbow. Yes, he's got a very bad elbow problem. He was then using the C10 Pro with Kevlar hybrid. (No, that's not good.) He tried changing to full multi and things still didn't work out. Now he's using the PK Ki5 and things are a breeze for him now, even strung with poly-multi hybrid and mid-to-high tension.

    So, look into your form first. And hit the gym a bit, too.
  12. kiteboard

    kiteboard Legend

    Jun 18, 2009
    Over the life of a racquet, you may pay thousands for string. A good stick costs $200. Are you worth $150? R is not, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Go cheaper with a ba98, similar flex, not as sweet or solid feel. Those who denigrate the best usually don't own it.
  13. marosmith

    marosmith Professional

    Feb 25, 2009
    Lafayette, Or
    It sounds like a form issue- however the racket is low powered and maybe light for the way you hit? Try going to 12.2-12.6 oz 7-10 pts HL on the weight. That will give you some power and a heavier racket should be easier on your elbow- but too heavy could get to your shoulder, so make sure you stay head light and don't get your shoulder going again.

    I think the weight is worth a try.

    If you end up experimenting and nothing works - a PT57 is the softest player frame you can get similar to your specs, but a new one will run you around $350-400 and a used one can be had for about $200 range.

    If you don't mind going heavier a PT280/630 may be a cheaper used option but is heavy and leaves little room for customization.

    I would try customizing your frame first if you like it otherwise.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2010
  14. markwillplay

    markwillplay Hall of Fame

    Jul 7, 2007
    believe it or not, I had a fischer 98 and my arm did not like it. So many people love these for the arm but mine bothered me. I don't know what it was but I found it shocking to my arm. It was also a little light and I found that it felt better with lead added. I ultimately went to a thinner beam and a little heavier and it worked.
  15. movdqa

    movdqa G.O.A.T.

    Sep 19, 2006
    I just recently developed arm problems - I use a stiff racquet with full poly. I believe it is due to increasing the amount of tennis substantially but am not completely sure. It's gotten a bit worse without playing any tennis so it might be something else that I'm doing that's causing it. At any rate, I just ordered an arm friendly setup and will try that out along with painkillers.

    Just a caution on hitting the gym - some exercises can make the TE worse.
  16. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

    Feb 29, 2008
    somewhere in calif
    The flex = 58 sometimes can be misleading. I own 3 different modern racquets with flex ~59, Tonic+ natural gut at 45 lbs. I found that these racquets still transfer significant amount of vibration to the elbow even with natural gut:
    Volk PB 10 mid ~ flex 59
    Wilson K95 team ~ flex 59
    Babolat Pure Storm GT LTD ~ flex 59

    I own these 3 racquets above and still use the copper ace (flex ~ 50) from the 80s all the time.

    It really depends on your style of play. If you use a very flexible low powered racquet , you pretty much have to reduce the amount of topspin you put on groundies. Otherwise the effort of trying to hit topspin with a low powered racquet will tire/hurt your arm.

    Consider using more flat/slice/underspin and save the topspin for passing shots. Consider volleying more, chip and charge, underspin approaches etc.., and playing more doubles.
  17. mdmerg

    mdmerg New User

    Apr 8, 2007
    Concerning the gym comment. I second to be careful, for there are many very common exercises that put a lot of stress on the same areas that are stressed with a racquet.

    Over a couple months time, I gave myself TE by believing that I was strengthening the area, but I was actually slowly damaging my arm in the gym.
  18. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Austin, hook 'em, Texas
    Many good suggestions here. What might be considered to be 'perfect' form may still damage body parts. Think about the number of different 'perfect' forms that result in damage from overuse and the number of 'imperfect' forms that allowed players to excel at the highest level without significant injury. TE certainly isn't always from playing tennis. Try stretching on a few extra-long Fairway grips over the course of a day...or hammering nails for a woodworking project...or just shaking hands with a couple dozen folks during a gathering.

    A few tips from my days of teaching/hitting 6,8,10 hours a day while in severe elbow pain:
    Make sure you don't 'sleep' on your arm. Figure out a way to allow maximum blood flow to the injured area while resting. I used to build a 'tunnel' with my pillow so I could still sleep with my arm 'under' my head. Better yet, find a sleeping position that allows max blood flow and little or no pressure on your arm.

    Make sure any massage strokes employed do not push connective tissue AWAY from its connection. Cross fiber and circular massage motions are best...try ice massage if you are into multi-tasking.

    Take whatever anti-inflammatory meds work for you. Make sure you follow dosing directions and take care of your GI tract by having food along with meds.

    Avoid the movement that hurts! If you MUST be on the court but the thought of a late backhand scares the willies out of you; then, DON'T hit backhands(or serves or overheads or volleys...whatever it is that is causing the problem). I taught a fair number of lessons lefty in order to rest my racket arm...whatever it takes!

    Work with SOMEONE knowledgeable in developing an exercise program. The main exercise 'fix' for my LE problem was the twisting machine(no idea what it's called) that basically had you grab a stirrup shaped handle about waist high, twist fully clockwise, then fully counter-clockwise. NOT recommended in the early, painful stages of the injury. Don't overdo it, build up gradually.

    Most of my pain was from LE(classic lateral epicondyle damage) but there was extreme discomfort from a synovial tag, probably from baseball and shot put activities prior to tennis. The best strokes in the world with the most forgiving racket ever made can't overcome a piece of 'junk' in your elbow.

    If you are a serious, developing player, don't feel that you need to hit 6 hours a day--every day. Rest your arm while working on footwork, leg strength, balance, etc.

    Lastly, while I think the OP racket set up is fine, I'll go with the others who recommended Volkl 9s or 10s as excellent 'arm helping' rackets. A slightly larger, cushioned grip can also help. I'd personally stay away from poly unless it is a multi...even then, there are plenty of arm-friendlier strings out there. If you are stringing your own, you put your extensors through all sorts of heck just installing strings in your racket. That's another story altogether.

    Best of luck!
  19. Anton

    Anton Hall of Fame

    Apr 9, 2007
    Staten Island
    Muscling the ball = bad for your body - especially on serve.

    Best advice I could give you is hit with your body and just keep your arm very relaxed after the take back.
  20. movdqa

    movdqa G.O.A.T.

    Sep 19, 2006
    > Most of my pain was from LE(classic lateral epicondyle damage) but there

    Mines the medial. One of my regular doubles partners is a doctor and I just told him where it hurts and he gave me the term. Backhand and forehand are fine. Only hurts on the serve.

    I found that I can get rid of most of the pain using a slice serve. In general, I mostly hit kick serves, then a few flat serves and slice serves the least. I just bought a few hundred Advil and an arm cuff. I'll probably just wear the arm cuff in general. Maybe playing tennis too.

    One of the exercises that aggravates the medial the most for me is wide-grip pullups. The tricep press, bicep curl also aggravate it moderately. The fly aggravates it a little.

    I'm giving some consideration to taking a bucket of balls to the courts tomorrow to try hitting left-handed serves. I've hit them before in club mixed doubles when the opposing players were weak but it's a shot that I've always wanted to have. I've seen players that take years to develop the thing though so I know that it's not that easy.
  21. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Austin, hook 'em, Texas
    I've managed to 'ding' my medial tissue by hitting late overheads too hard or hitting a flat, hard serve from a kick serve toss. Usually doesn't last too long; but, it's worth making sure to catch the ball out front a bit on anything hit hard and flat. If the pain persists during a match, try a relaxed grip on serves and overheads and maybe backing off the power a bit.

    May I suggest only wearing the arm cuff while engaged in arm-centered activity. Without the action of using the arm and hand, the blood supply could be restricted by the cuff. Under no circumstances would I wear one while sleeping or resting.

    Good luck with those off-hand serves. I look pretty silly when I try it. I've worked with two fully ambidextrous players who could switch between first and second serves! My brain and body don't work that way! :) :)
  22. Sam F

    Sam F New User

    Aug 27, 2009
    First of all, THANKS EVERYONE FOR THE HELP! I really appreciate it. Sorry I'm just now responding, but have been up to a lot in between. More on that in a bit. I know I definitely wasn’t used to that much tennis. The most I had done before was 2 days in a row, one set of singles each day. For the tournament I played 4 days in a row with 1 set of singles and 7 sets of doubles. Add to that trying too hard, muscling the ball, and generally trying to intimidate people with power. I’ve hit since then and relearned how a relaxed & loose arm generates much more power (and accuracy) with less effort. My racket was so loose it nearly fell from my hand. Am just concerned I took too much abuse in those four days to get off free.

    Saw the sports medicine doctor this morning. She diagnosed me with tennis elbow in both arms. Yeah, they both hurt. Official terminology is "lateral epicondylitis". Then saw my physio/massage therapist in the afternoon. He checked me out and disagreed. He tested that area (which hurt upon squeezing) then found nothing in the same area after turning the arm over (believe this was the supination). He said then that lateral epicondylitis isn't really what's going on as it should hurt in any position. He continued that lateral epicondylitis is often the quick diagnosis, but that what I had was really mostly related to tricep tightness where they join with the elbow with perhaps a bit going on where these muscles join under the shoulder (arm pit). He also thought my technique could be an issue in that I'm still tightening/overusing my elbow b/c I'm trying to protect my shoulder. So the physio gave me some exercises to do this week to relieve the stress from my lower triceps. I'll give it a try, especially as it feels like he definitely worked out a lot of the tension in that area on each arm.

    Even with overdoing it the other weekend, I'm still concerned how this could have happened and want to do all I can to prevent it in the future. Will definitely try exercises/ pt to help but thought I might also try (based on y'all suggestions and my own research):

    1- Stringing only w/ natural guy and going for 40lbs (down from 50)

    2- Adding a bit of weight to the handle (but trying to maintain being around 8 points head light)

    3- Increasing the grip with a heat shrink sleeve

    4- Increasing the grip with a few overlay grips (tennis warehouse salesperson suggested it would cut shock)

    5- trying a cushioned/ shock absorbing grip like the Gamma Hi Tech Gel Grip Black or Gosen Sorbothane Grip.

    6- Adding an extended weighted butt cap like they talk about on racket research.

    7- Using Straps like the Tennex, Band-IT Elbow Brace, Air Cell, or the "STRAP" TENNIS ELBOW CURE from Tennis ******.

    8- Try adding some shock absorbing materials or foam into my current frame's handle (this seems like a far shot and ill-advised)

    9- Though the tennis warehouse salespeople thought these sticks wouldn't change much b/c they calculated them less flexible than the Fischer, demo again the Pro Kennex Ki5, the Volkl C-20 Pro and Powerbridge 10, the Becker 11 midplus, the Prince EXO Rebel 95, and maybe even a Bosworth.

    10- Getting my strokes analyzed by a pro. Problem is, I've never met a pro who's really focused on injury prevention. I always seem to know more.

    11- If all this fails then walk into traffic b/c it's just not gonna happen for me!

    So, this is my plan, but any thoughts are greatly appreciated!
  23. 5th Element

    5th Element Rookie

    Sep 12, 2009
    haven't read the whole thread but have you checked the following?

    - Are you gripping the racquet too hard? Is your grip/overgip new?
    - Are you making contact if front of you thus reducing strain on your arm?
    - Are you warming up properly?
    - Are you using a softer string?
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010
  24. Sam F

    Sam F New User

    Aug 27, 2009
    -Believe do good warm up.
    -String is soft (natural and multifilament)
    -Hard to say if making contact out in front as you say. Did have good coaches and have been told my strokes are classical and beautiful to watch. But I know I tried too hard and muscled the ball in tournament a few weeks ago.
    -Was probably gripping too hard in tournament mentioned above. Not doing in last 2 times I've hit since then, but damage may have been done.
    -original grip still on rackets. Am using overgrips as well, but they need replacing. Am thinking of replacing with a cushioned/ shock absorbing grip like the Gamma Hi Tech Gel Grip Black or Gosen Sorbothane Grip.
  25. High Roller

    High Roller Banned

    Oct 27, 2009
    Parts Unknown
    It wouldn't hurt to get yourself to a good sports-oriented PT.
  26. mikeler

    mikeler Moderator

    Sep 26, 2008
    Central Florida

    You should definitely follow this suggestion. I finally got rid of my elbow issues by seeing a chiropractor who used to be a teaching pro. After about 12 sessions of electrostimulation and ultrasound massage treatment, my pain was gone. Unfortunately you'll have to stop playing tennis for a little while to let it heal. Good luck!
  27. jbleiman

    jbleiman Rookie

    Apr 27, 2008
    what works for me....wilson n3 strung with global gut at 55 lbs and using a flexbar
  28. Don't Let It Bounce

    Don't Let It Bounce Hall of Fame

    Sep 15, 2009
    There's always a racquet that's a little less flexible, a string tension that's a little lower, etc., but–as pointed out upthread–your equipment is very arm-friendly. With that kind of set-up, I'd start looking immediately at how you're hitting, overtraining, and other non-equipment-related contributing factors.

    And if someone is playing tight enough enough that he not only notices it himself but also mentions it in the OP, we can pretty much close the file on the case! :) In 25+ years of teaching, I've never encountered a better way to hurt one's own arm without being in reach of heavy farm machinery. I'm as sure as I can be without seeing you play that the best approach is to keep your equipment bag as it is and make an appointment with a coach who can walk you through some exercises to loosen up your strokes (ex. fingers only, no palm, on handle; holding small ball in hitting hand's palm while hitting; dropping pinkie off handle while serving; "hitting" with stringless racquet).
  29. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

    Jul 23, 2009
    Roswell GA
    I have been down this road.....

    -Get the "Band-It" and wear it whenever u play. Just tight enough so it stays in place.

    -Get a flexible ice pack that you strap around your arm and ice your arm 2-3 times after you play...20 mins on, 20 mins off.

    -Use Advil after u play if it feels inflamed.

    -Switch from a 1-handed backhand to a 2 hander if possible. (This yielded big results for me).

    -Try to hit with a "laid back" wrist as often as possible and focus on hitting the center sweetspot as much as possible. If u are really out of position on a hard hit ball, just let it go....too risky.

    -Use the heaviest most flexible, headlight racquet you can handle. The Rebel 95 is an excellent choice.

    -Try not to "hammer" every ball. Focus on placement and only "go after it" when the opportunity presents itself.

    -don't play with wet or damp balls and avoid "pressureless" practice balls if possible.
  30. Hooked

    Hooked Rookie

    Jul 7, 2010
    Boston - North
    Ditto what Jack1 says. As someone who has beat TE, this is the best advice I have read in this thread. Changing the racquet may have some affect, but the real issue now is to protect your arm from further damage and begin the recovery. I would suggest keeping the current racquet and getting a band-it and wearing it - every time you hit. Get the tension on the band right. That is critical. Here's a link to a post I wrote about my TE expereince and advice.

  31. ratm355

    ratm355 New User

    Feb 13, 2008
    If you're real serious about using arm friendly equipment, I'd recommend you try out the Rossignol F200 and F300. They are simply the two most arm friendly rackets ever. Don't forget to string them with natural gut. I've got some for sale on the forums right now too.
  32. WhiteStripes

    WhiteStripes Semi-Pro

    Apr 14, 2004
    I've played w/ the Fischer MPro 1 98 SL for quite a while (although I no longer play with it). In my opinion, it plays stiffer than the 58RA listed, and it plays pretty stiff/boardy at high tensions. That said, overall it's an arm-friendly stick, so I don't think it's too likely that it's damaging your elbows, especially w/ your gut setup.

    Prior to the '98, I played w/ the 105 for 2 years, and I can tell you that it plays MUCH more flexible (56RA), and MUCH, MUCH softer/easier on the body than the '98. With the 105" head w/ a 16x19 pattern makes it pretty forgiving, as the sweetspot is good-sized. Plus, it's very, very spin friendly. You do lose a little bit of precision/control compared to the '98 though, but overall, it's a very nice stick.

    Might want to give it a try if you can find one. Otherwise, in addition to rest to give your body time to heal, I echo everyone else's comments about having someone evaluate your technique to see if that's an issue.
  33. 15_ounce

    15_ounce Guest

    Yaaayy!! Bosworth For The Win!!! I use Bosworth Rossignol 9R Yellow Power and also Bosworth Fin Wildcat. They're solid sticks and well customised/designed... I consistently improve my game with them. I play everyday and have no problems with elbow.

    I definitely agree about using a more relaxed swing with good timing.. and also use more leg push + wrist snap on the serve... On most groundies use more wrist, more body turn, less elbow.

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