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Tennis Elbow Treatment - Braces and Supports: Why They're a Bad Idea!

April 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 139

Tennis Elbow Treatment: Should you wear some kind of support, such as a brace, splint, wrap or strap to treat your Elbow Tendonitis?

In most cases, NO - You shouldn't actually!

Not if your goal is healing, and not just pain relief, anyway.

Yes, it's true that most of the "authorities," medical websites and various blogs do advise you to utilize some kind of support for a few weeks in the name of "resting, protecting and healing your Tennis Elbow,"

And it certainly sounds like the right thing to do - BUT, there are several reasons why "supports" do not support healing, (in most cases) and why those supports can actually hurt you instead.

(The exception being while you're playing Tennis, golf or some other sport that involves dynamic, forceful activity, because you've decided to keep playing in spite of your injury.)

Okay, but what about the rest of the time?

Tennis Elbow, along with most other forms of Tendonitis, is usually not the kind of injury that benefits from being bound up or immobilized with some kind of restrictive brace or support for days or weeks.

In other words, restricting movement with a brace:

  • Doesn't help this kind of tendon injury heal...
  • Although it may very well feel a lot better temporarily!
  • Which is deceptive because having less pain and feeling better is one of the ways we can tell that an injury is healing and getting better.

The problem is that even though there are a lot of things you can do to make your Tennis Elbow feel better, (like icing, rest, anti-inflammatories, painkillers, creams and Cortisone shots.)

All these so-called treatments do is trick you by easing and postponing your pain for a little while - None of them will help you heal. (Some, like Cortisone shots, can damage you!)

And unfortunately, "supports" are no exception.

So, why then doesn't bracing or supporting your muscles, tendons or your entire elbow help your injury heal?

If you broke your arm, then you'd certainly have to put in a cast while the bone heals.

If you sprain your ankle badly then you'd have to wrap it for a few days - No question.

So what's so different about Tennis Elbow!?

First of all, it has almost nothing in common with a broken bone, and generally very little in common with a sprain.

It's not a sprain or a strain (usually) - Meaning there is usually no major tear (strain) in the muscle or tendon that needs to be protected from movement, in which case a brace or support probably would be needed at first.

Tennis Elbow is a tendon injury, and most of the time the tendons that are injured are NOT badly torn in one big, traumatic event - They're damaged gradually.

  • And the key problem is that Tendons heal much more slowly, in part because they have a much smaller blood supply
  • So slowly, in fact, the biggest risk with tendons is that they don't heal at all - and that they gradually break down instead - (Technically this is called 'Tendinosis', by the way.)

And that's what's really going on more often than not in the typical case of Tennis Elbow: Gradual breakdown and degeneration.

(Forget about the InflammaSCAM / inflammation myth, too, by the way, but that's another story.)

And the very last thing you want to do is to reduce that circulation and blood supply to your tendons even more as they're trying to heal.

Unfortunately that's exactly what wearing a brace, splint, band, strap or any other kind of so-called support does; it tends to reduce the circulation in the area you're wearing it around.

It does that in two ways:

  1. First indirectly by restricting the movement of your muscles, tendons and elbow joint. Less movement = Less circulation, because muscle movement is essential for good blood (and lymph) flow,
  2. And second by directly compressing the tissues and blood vessels in that area. Yes, even if it's not that tight.

Naturally, the tighter and more restrictive it is, and the longer you wear it the worse it is.

Then there's the Scar Tissue issue. The other big downside with supports.

The compression and reduced mobility tends to encourage sticky scar tissue, which further binds and restricts your muscles and tendons.

I'm sure you will agree losing your flexibility to a bunch of nasty Scar Tissue and having your healing process stall are the last things you want!

Muscles and tendons actually need gentle movement and mobility to heal - (except right after a major tear, which I've already mentioned is rarely the case with Tennis Elbow).

Gentle movement during most if not all of the healing process helps the repair process and helps to prevent excessive Scar Tissue build up.

In conclusion, most of the time it only makes sense to wear a brace or support:

  1. If you're sure you've suffered a significant tear,
  2. Or when you're on the tennis court or golf course or engaging in some kind of short-term forceful activity, like hammering nails or digging in your garden.

In the latter case to protect your injury somewhat from the risk of further damage.

But never during the day while you're walking around, sitting at your computer - or worst of all while you're working (unless your work is high force / high impact, like construction).

Forget the idea that wearing a support hours at a time, for days, weeks or months is an effective treatment for Tennis Elbow. It's not going to help you heal.

Want to learn more facts about Tennis Elbow treatment, dispel more myths - And discover how to help speed your tendon healing naturally?

Then I invite you to visit my Tennis Elbow Classroom: A self-help video guide to easily learning to do your own Tennis Elbow treatment

(No outrageous "miracle-cure claims," gimmick selling - OR affiliate offers. I promise!)

I'm the Neuromuscular Therapist who "Wrote The eBook" on Tennis Elbow Tendonitis ten years ago. I've been treating it successfully even longer - And I'm ready to be your personal or your virtual 'Tennis Elbow Tutor'

Source: EzineArticles
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