Stop the madness - Tennis Elbow nonsense

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by netman, Apr 23, 2005.

  1. netman

    netman Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    I can't take any more folk remedies, so please pardon the following diatribe.

    Can we stop the constant repetition of misinformation on these boards that heavy, flexible racquets are good for TE suffers. As I scan past posts, I constantly see this repeated. This is a classic example of bad inferential logic. It seems that because some folks have TE problems with light, stiff racquets, the assumption is made that the opposite, i.e. heavy, flexible racquets, are good. Gosh, if this was the case, TE would have never existed during the era of wood racquets. You want heavy, flexible racquets? Well wood makes a POG look like a Pure Drive. Yet TE was just as prevalent when wood racquets were used as it is now.

    TE is the result of cumulative trauma (or in some cases sudden trauma) to the ligaments and tendons around the elbow. Bad technique can accelerate or uncover the problem. Light, stiff racquets can encourage bad technique. But light, stiff racquets do not cause TE on their own. An elbow already suffering from cumulative trauma will go bad even with great technique and a 13 oz, 50 flex racquet. To the extent a heavy frame forces you to change technique, it may help. But it does not resolve the problem. In fact hanging too much weight off the end of your arm can make things worse in many cases.

    Everyone who encourages TE suffers to rest, let the problem heal, then work on technique are on the right track. Everyone else needs to encourage this regimen and stop repeating the bad logic of heavy, flexible frames.

    Okay, I feel better. :)
  2. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

    Feb 3, 2005
    The heavy flexible frame thing is based on sound principles, and is not bad logic. I agree with everything else you said, but heavy and flexible will produce less shock, so it is less *likely* to lead to tennis elbow, but certainly not a panacea. As you described bad technique is more *likely* to cause problems.
  3. Steve H.

    Steve H. Semi-Pro

    Feb 25, 2004
    Maybe so, but a light, head-heavy racquet will also add more to the cumulative trauma with the extra shock of each hit. Do the math. Or else check out the local seniors league and see all the HyperHammer users with elbow braces, or play some matches with a POG oversize one week and a Triad 3.0 or Ti.S6 the next and see how your elbow feels after each. It's not a coincidence.
  4. !Tym

    !Tym Hall of Fame

    May 6, 2004
    Lost on here is that if you nail the sweetspot, I think called the center of percussion, then you're fine with probably any stick. Every racket has a sweetspot where shock is minimized. The pros use every kind of racket imaginiable and hit harder than anyone else on the planet, yet they rarely get tennis elbow to such debilitating degrees that amateurs do. Why is that?

    My theory is this. Mishits are the #1 contributor to tennis elbow, the pros don't mishit as often hence they're generally ok.

    The 'shock' of a bad mishit maybe a little less with certain racket factors, but in my opinion, a bad a BAD mishit, period.

    Just a theory, but:
    If a 'safe' Volvo crashes into a brick wall swerving out of control after hitting a greasy ice spot at 80mph...I don't think that 'safe' Volkl (oops, I mean Volvo) is going to do you much good. You might as well have been on a bicycle and saved yourself a load of money on your car insurance.

    Knowing this, here's someone who will speak up in defense of the lighter, stiffer do-dads. If a lighter racket makes it easier for you to mishit less often then that may actually decrease your chances of tennis elbow in my opinion.

    Conversely, if you use a heavier racket and are constantly hitting late and/or mishitting because of it (i.e. too demanding, sweetspot too small, too heavy), then how is that going to help your tennis elbow either?

    For me, I only get tennis elbow when I BADLY mistrike a serve. I take a big swing on the serve and if I mishit it really badly, my elbow goes funky willy in a cold New York's TNT city baby.

    This has happened with the Prestige Classic 600 strung with natural gut, the RD-3, RD-7, RD-8, Head Premier Tour Mid, Volkl C10 Pro Tour, Super RD Tour 90, etc., etc.

    Repeat, it could be the racket, but I don't really think so. Those heavier, "flexy" rackets did nothing for me at the moment of truth, when I saw that hot girl walking by in the middle of my service motion but swung bombs away was as painful as getting rejected nicely by a sweeatheart like Heather Locklear for the first time.

    Moral to the story, and most important? DON'T MISHIT, EVER...but if you do, that just means you suck worse than...PRINCE GOD...oh my God you must suck so hard. (Ha, ha.) So do yourself a favor, mishit less often will ya? If you don't mishit at all, you could use a Pure Drive Plus and still be fine. Heck, Roddick's elbow seems to be holding up ok enough to play year round at the nicest clubs in the world for millions of dollars...what does that say? The Pure Drive Plus is one of the best rackets in the world for preventing tennis elbow? Not really. It just says that if you're technique is good, and you don't mishit too often, and girls think you're "Godly...," you'll probably manage to survive.
  5. radical tourist

    radical tourist Rookie

    Feb 22, 2004
    Agree with the premise generally. Bad form will lead to problems with any stick. I got TE hitting hundreds of balls one day with a Precision Equipe and being chronically late on strokes. If you can't hit with a heavier stick, sure, go lighter. But the energy of contact has to go somewhere - in addition to the ball - and on a 9 oz. frame, it's mostly going up your arm.
  6. thejerk

    thejerk Semi-Pro

    Mar 25, 2004
    i've hurt myself just swinging a really light racket. I can definately feel the difference to my joints when it come to different rackets. the ps tour 90 was even arm friendly for me. So i'm not sure if weight and flex alone make the difference. A weighted hps 6.1 messed up my shoulder but anytime i hit with a racket that is less than 12oz and headlight my back, elbow, and shoulder hurt. I can hit all day with a heavy flexy racket. I could also hit all day with the wilson tour 90 with a 68rdc.
  7. Steve H.

    Steve H. Semi-Pro

    Feb 25, 2004
    Point taken, !Tym, mishits add shock, and there can be no doubt that you tennis gods don't get TE. But most of us mortals do miss the COP at least sometimes.

    To take your car analogy further, if you WERE to collide with something, wouldn't you rather be in that Volvo than a Yugo?
  8. ssjkyle31

    ssjkyle31 Semi-Pro

    Feb 21, 2004
    IMHO, it is bad technique that cause TE. If you did not learn to swing correctly, a light racket will help you attain TE faster. A heavy racket will only prevent vibration and shock. A bad swing with a heavy racket will cause you to have other problems such as wrist joint pain, pulled shoulder (muscle) and etc.
  9. tennissavy

    tennissavy Hall of Fame

    Jan 7, 2005
    I can only talk of my own experience. If I play with a head heavy or light weight frame I get pain in my arms. If I play with a heavy weight, head light frame I do so in comfort. I have found that no matter what you use, you have to be careful how you hit or you can get injured. No matter how good my technique is though, if I use a light weight racquet or head heavy racquet, I will have pain over time. Heavy racquets work for me when balanced head light. The stiffness doesn't matter, I find ,if I play with wilson powerholes technology or Prince sweetspot suspension. The forgiveness on off center hits is quite good and the stringbed gives more when the ball makes contact. Racquet stiffness combined with these technologies works the best for me because I get added power of stiffness and the comfort and safety of the poweholes/suspension system. This type of racquet is what I recommend to those with arm injuries.
  10. Gaines Hillix

    Gaines Hillix Hall of Fame

    Feb 11, 2004
    Strings can also contribute to TE for some people. I knew I was going to be in trouble if I kept using Lux TiMo. It is the only string I ever felt tendernous in my elbow with. As soon as I quit using it, no elbow soreness.
  11. kinsella

    kinsella Semi-Pro

    Feb 18, 2004
    There are many adequate rebuttals to most of Netmans self-described diatribe, but ALL the medical opinions I have heard recommend against complete rest as part of a TE remedy, because the muscles rapidly decondition, making them weak and vulnerable to injury upon the eventual return to the sport. Reduce playing time, but do not eliminate it and continue to do daily strengthening exercises. Most doctors also advise tennis lessons to improve stroke mechanics, so don't be insulted.

    With good technique, most elbows can probably tolerate almost any frame/string combo, but when I hear highly skilled players complain, they almost never tell me they are hitting 12 oz+ racquets with nat gut or multi strings. Gaines' report of discomfort with stiff strings is not the first one I have heard, despite good technique.

    A point worth repeating is that any significant change in racquets calls for a period of transition in stroke mechanics during which a player can overstress certain muscles or tendons surrounding the elbow (and the shoulder, but this is a TE thread). Unfortunately, this can discourage some from making the switch to a racquet that is ultimately safer for their body, because in the short term, "this is even worse, man!" It makes sense that the stroke mechanics for a 12 oz racquet with low "power" will be different from those used with a 9.5 oz racquet. Those who are patient to develop the swing that duplicates the power of the light/stiff sticks will most often be rewarded.

    For those with TE, good luck to you.
  12. joe sch

    joe sch Legend

    Feb 19, 2004
    Hotel CA
    Not only are modern rackets and poly strings causes of TE as many players that have played equipment for 3 or more decades can attest to, but I like many others, have found that using more flexible rackets, like a woodie or old graphite with natural gut strings, will help cure TE caused by stiff strings and/or rackets ! Its fine if you are a disbeliever and you are also very fortunate if you have not yet got TE but maybe you should not push your luck. BTW, heavy frames are more likely to cause shoulder problems if you dont have the strenght and technique to handle such clubs
  13. larrhall

    larrhall Semi-Pro

    Feb 28, 2004
    !Tym's explanation works. Still, we all mishit. Best frames/strings for tennis elbow are (my opinion):

    - somewhat heavy
    - headlight
    - not too stiff, under 66 RDC
    - medium-to-soft syn strings or gut

    Light, head-heavy racquets, given the realities of mishits and flawed technique, even if occasional, lead to tennis elbow.
  14. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Parts unknown
    I think !Tym was all over this, and that is why i have been preaching so much around here about getting out of small headed frames unless you are a better player. it is mis-hits that cause problems, and frames arent unstable as many posters claim, the operators just cant find the sweetspots on a regular basis. even lightweight racquets are very stable if you flush hit them. but, i dont think tennis elbow was as frequent back in the days as the original poster fact, there wasnt so much tennis elbow especially considering there were probably 5 times the number of players back then as now all using 65" frames. back then it was the people w. the awful mechancs who were wearing the elbow braces..awful mechanics lead to mis hits as does not so good hand eye certainly have a better chance of hitting a larger sweetspot than you do a smaller one, and 3.5's should NOT be using midsized frames unless they only play with their aunt mary and play hit and giggle T and dont create enough racquethead speed to cause any injury. But, if you do mis hit, a flexible frame absorbs more of the shock than a stiff one..ditto for softer strings. Now you also have nasty strings that lead to injury that really werent around much before. actually poly's have been around since the 80's and they were the cheapest strings you could buy, but nobody would buy them back then because they're just awful and transmit so much shock. Also what Kinsella is saying makes sense to me about changing gear...everytime you change gear you are causing yourself to use muscles and tendons in different ways and that can lead to injury <especially as you get older> so best to find a frame well suited to your abilities and learn to use it well rather than thinking you can buy yourself better tennis by constantly changing...lastly, there are some generalities i have observed over the years about tennis injuries.
    -wrist/hand problems are often contributed to by poly strings or stringing far too tightly
    -shoulder problems are often contributed by too heavy of a frame no matter how flexible (often because the operator is forcing racquethead speed because they are moving too much weight for them and their technique breaks down especially on the serve)
    -tennis elbow is often caused by a faulty backhand
    -golfers elbow is often caused by a faulty forehand
    -lightweight head heavy frames = never any good
    of course all these problems are often just caused by bad technique, but your gear can contribute for sure. i think there is just cause for lighter stiffer frames, especially with the modern game, but i think some of te manufactures are not responsible in that they do nothing to dampen the harsher hit of a stiff frame other than a cusioned grip. tat is one reason why i am such a fan of Volkl. they have light stiff frames, but they take put the extra engineering and manufacturing cost into dampening the hit and protecting the operator from injury.
  15. crosscourt

    crosscourt Professional

    Feb 19, 2004
    I played all through the winter with a Prestige Classic -- cold, heavy balls, bad bounces, cold muscles and not a single twinge in my arm. I tried the Pure Storm last week for one hour on a warm sunny day. My elbow has been sore all week. My experience is that lighter stiffer rackets give you elbow pain.

    I also wonder about the trend to using smaller grip sizes and low swingweight rackets.

  16. jackiebrown

    jackiebrown Guest

    Heavy frames should be balanced head light and then you won't have to worry about your shoulder.
  17. Flatspin

    Flatspin Rookie

    Feb 20, 2004
    I agree .... bad technique is the main culprit and base cause of TE! No doubt!! But it is true that other factors such as the frame and strings can aggrevate the condition!

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