There are several strategies you can use to prevent repetitive motion or overuse injuries to the elbow. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about some of these strategies?
Absolutely, Major Spencer. The first key in elbow injury prevention is stretching before and after you engage in any rigorous exercise or sports activity. Stretching helps get your body ready for exercise and plays an important part in recovering from intense activity. It also increases flexibility.
A good warm up and cool down are also important elements of injury prevention. Warming up and cooling down give your body time to adjust from resting to exercising, and from exercising to resting.
Using proper equipment and technique are paramount in preventing elbow injuries. For instance, using a tennis racquet that is the right size and fit can reduce stress on the forearm, which means that the forearm muscles don’t have to work as hard. Likewise, learning proper technique in overhand throwing can reduce the amount of stress on the ligaments and tendons in the elbow.
To prevent overuse of certain muscles, ligaments, or tendons, it can be helpful to add variety to the types of sports you participate in. It’s also important to allow yourself adequate time to rest, and always listen to your body. If a particular motion or sport is causing you pain, stop doing it for a while. Finally, remember to drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated.
Athletes involved in a throwing sport, such as softball, baseball, or football, should start a pre-season throwing program to get their bodies accustomed to throwing. A coach, athletic trainer, or physical therapist can provide a program that is appropriate for the athlete’s age and level of experience.