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Committed to Eliminating Tennis Elbow

Committed to Eliminating Tennis Elbow

Committed to Eliminating Tennis Elbow

Committed to Eliminating Tennis Elbow

Elbow, arm and shoulder pain can be caused by a number of factors in a physically demanding sport such as tennis. The ultimate goal is to understand the root cause, eliminate it and stop the pain. The process is fairly simple, but identifying the cause is not always easy.

That's where we come in. Guts and Glory Tennis specializes in assisting tennis players who are experiencing elbow pain identify the cause. Over the years we have worked with a large volume of customers who have experienced arm pain, usually tennis elbow or golfer's elbow, and have helped them identify and eliminate the pain. There is no deep, dark secret, just common sense coupled with years of observational experience. This experience combined with a rudimentary knowledge of the basic laws of physics and an in-depth knowledge of tennis equipment helps us to help our customers. This section of the web site details tennis elbow relief and highlights some myths and the basic cornerstones of our approach.

MYTH #1: Tennis elbow is most often caused by improper technique and bad mechanics.

OUR BELIEF: When initial research on Tennis Elbow (TE) was conducted flaws in technique and mechanics were often cited as the cause of the discomfort. While serious flaws in technique continue to be a legitimate cause of TE, it is no longer the primary cause. The number of those suffering from TE over the past several years has risen dramatically. The cause is no longer primarily related to mechanics, but rather is related to equipment. Guts and Glory Tennis operates under the assumption that most cases of TE today are equipment related, our first cornerstone.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Over the past several years the major racquet manufacturers have worked hard to develop racquets that are both lighter and stiffer. They are marketed as "better" because of advanced technology. The hope is that an unsuspecting public will flock toward these lighter wondersticks and be in awe of the nanofibers, hypercarbon, intellifibers, hot melt technology, O Ports, etcetera. As racquets have grown lighter, longer and stiffer the number of tennis players suffering from arm and elbow pain has also risen. Not a coincidence.

Strings are also another piece of equipment that have changed over the past several years. Stiffer polyester based strings are all the range with the pros using strings like Luxilon ALU. Meanwhile the public court masses are following the lead and using these strings themselves in search of more power, spin and control. Stiffer strings such as these allow the player to generate more spin and find added control for their new overpowered frames. Yet at the same time, the stringbed stiffness is increased and the strings are now also contributing to TE.

GGT ACTION: Interview the player suffering from TE to determine the probable cause(s). Ascertain if there has been a recent change in stroke technique or equipment. Carefully examine specifications of equipment to determine if an equipment change/alteration may be able to help eliminate the pain.

MYTH #2: Lighter racquets are better and healthier than heavier racquets.

OUR BELIEF: Absolutely, positively NOT TRUE!!! While a lighter racquet may be easier to swing, they are generally not as healthy as heavier racquets. Each time a tennis ball strikes the string bed a collision occurs which creates energy and shock. Forces of physics are alive an running rampant. At the moment of impact/collision the energy has to go somewhere. In the past, heavier racquets have essentially served as shock absorbers, taking the brunt of the collision before the shock could be transmitted to the player's arm. With the advent of lighter weight racquets, the shock is no longer absorbed by the racquet, but rather transmitted directly to the player's body. While some players experience no immediate pain with this added shock, others are quite sensitive to it and their bodies respond with pain. Note: the long term effects of playing with lighter racquets are not yet known.

GGT ACTION: Heavier racquets are healthier racquets. While an equipment change is not always necessary, it oftentimes is the best way to address TE. We carry demo racquets that have proven to be healthy and invite our customers to give them a try for an extended period. We know from experience that a 12oz racquet can be easily handled by children in their teens and adults alike. In fact the extra mass of the racquet is not only healthier, but can generate heavier and more penetrating strokes off the ground and at the net. There was a day when coaches would preach to their students, "Let the Racquet Do the Work!"

The following racquet specifications can put a racquet in the DANGER ZONE for contributing to TE. Let us check the specifications of your racquet (or check for yourself) to see if it is a racquet that falls in the DANGER ZONE.

1. Weight - Racquets less than 11oz. (Healthwise the ideal weight would be in the 12oz + range)
2. Balance - Racquets that are weighted head heavy are more prone to causing TE
3. Stiffness - Racquets with a stiffness/flex rating of 69 or higher can contribute to TE
4. Length - Racquets longer than 27" can also contribute to TE

If your racquet falls into one or more of the above categories and you are experiencing tennis elbow, we encourage you to talk with a tennis equipment professional to see if modifications using lead tape/weight can be made to help make your racquet a healthier racquet. At the end of this article we will include a list of racquet brands and models that have been found to contribute to arm/elbow pain in an unmodified form for our stringing and customization customers.

MYTH #3: I should use the same string the top touring professionals are using.

OUR BELIEF: It is essential to evaluate your style of play as well as the specifications of your frame before jumping into the world of poly based strings. Federer, Nadal, Roddick and a high percentage of top tier professional players use a poly-based string known as Luxilon BB ALU. Before deciding this is the string you want in your racquet you should know the following. Luxilon is a great string in the context it is used by professionals. That is the racquets are restrung just a few hours before every match and in many instances are only used for 8 games. Luxilon ALU clearly helps to deliver the added spin and control that these top players are craving. But Luxilon is a very firm/stiff string compared to traditional synthetic guts and natural gut. It also tends to last much longer before snapping. Herein lies the problem.

Some poly based strings, like Luxilon ALU, have a tendency to drop tension quickly. After just a few hours on the court the limited dampening properties of these strings are exhausted and additional shock is transmitted directly to the body. Oftentimes, club level players do not notice the playability loss (the pros sure do!) and continue playing on the string well past its effective string life, sometimes until they break. Playing with a stiff, dead string is one of the most prominent causes of TE.

GGT ACTION: We are proud to have been the first U.S. based company to seek out and import newer generation poly based strings into the marketplace. These newer and softer poly based strings provide many of the advantages in terms of added spin and control that professionals are now using, but they also hold their properties longer and are more gentle on the body for the club level and recreational players. Let us consult with you to determine if a poly based string or poly based  hybrid might be appropriate for your game. Being the first to playtest and introduce these strings, our knowledge and experience in working with them can not be surpassed. Consult with us and we will help you select a string and stringing method that is healthy and arm-friendly for you and your equipment.

Guts and Glory Tennis
(List of Highly Recommended co-poly strings)

Signum Pro Poly Plasma - A solid playing copolymer that was the first of a new generation of comfort/performance based copolymers.
WeissCANNON Scorpion - One of the most powerful poly based strings on the market today. Powerful and comfortable. Is great as a hybrid.
WeissCANNON MatchPower - Quality string. Great performance. Perhaps the most comfortable of the lot.
MSV Co. Focus, Focus HEX and Focus EVO- Three impressive offerings that are earning rave reviews worldwide.
WeissCANNON Silverstring -Arguably one of the very best overall poly based strings on the market today.

WeissCANNON TurboTwist - The softest poly-based string of any currently on the market.  Strongly recommended if you are going to play a poly-based string.


NOTE: Co-poly strings and hybrids are not always compatible with all styles of play and frames. Be sure to check with your USRSA stringing professional to determine the advantages and disadvantages of using these strings in your frame.

While this section of this essay has drifted toward a discussion of poly based string products, in reality it is a rare instance were we recommend a poly based string to those suffering from TE. In general we advise our customers seeking pain relief to use natural gut or a multifilament option. Below is a list of multifilament strings that we recommend and use for our local customers who are suffering from TE.

Guts and Glory Tennis
(List of Highly Recommended multifilament strings)

WeissCANNON Explosiv! - A brand new string that is arguably offers the most comfort of any string listed here. This is the best-selling string among our local customers with TE.
MSV Soft Control - A new premium multi with over 1400 filaments.  Extremely soft and an all-around excellent option in terms of play and arm-health.
Yonex 880ti Soft - Specifically designed with shock absorption in mind. This is the best-selling string among our local customers with TE.
Signum Pro Fiber High Tec EXP - A bit crisper than the Yonex, but still provides excellent shock absorption and excellent playing characteristics.
ISO SPEED Professional/ISO SPEED Control (Classic version) - Same string, different gauges have different names. These strings are constructed with a unique microtissue design ( This unique construction is designed to mimic the playing properties of natural gut and of all synthetic strings, this comes the closest. The price tag is high, but many of today's newer multis are now in this price range and they fail to deliver the gut-like performance of this top-tier offering.
ISO SPEED Professional/ISO SPEED Control (New formulation) - Plays a bit crisper than the Supernatural Gut, but is less expensive. A favorite among many local customers.
KLiP Excellerator - For those who like a crisper playing string that is arm friendly, we strongly recommend this outstanding product.
 
MYTH #4: An incorrect grip size can lead to tennis elbow.

OUR BELIEF: Many in our industry mistakenly believe that a grip size being larger or smaller than the recommended can lead to elbow issues. We do not subscribe to this theory. We believe that players should use whatever grip size is most comfortable for them to use. Some players prefer to use smaller grips for extra whip and torque, while others prefer to use a larger grip. From an elbow health perspective there is no reason to believe that a grip that is smaller or larger than suggest will cause any elbow pain.
The following are excepts from a news release issued by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. It is also found in the Sept/Oct 2007 issue of USTA Magazine, pg. 8.

"A grip that is either too big or too small for the player's hand is not a factor in whether or not a player may develop tennis elbow."

"Clinicians who treat patients with tennis elbow often tell them to try a different grip size in order to eliminate muscle fatigue...our study demonstrates that those recommendations have no scientific basis."

GGT ACTION: We recommend whatever grip size feels most comfortable and allows optimal on-court performance. We use the standard recommended grip size as a starting point when advising customers on this issue. We do believe that grip size can have some impact on wrist and forearm pain, but this is not a constant and tends to vary according to playing style and how tightly the racquet is held during play.

Guts and Glory Tennis
List of Known Racquets that have contributed to TE for our customers
(List is not exhaustive, represents what we have observed directly)

RACQUET BRAND MODEL
Babolat
Aeropro Control and Control +
Babolat
Aeropro Drive and Drive+
Babolat
Pure Control and Pure Control+
Babolat
Pure Drive, Pure Drive + - All versions except the Zylon
Dunlop
300G
Dunlop
600G Ice
Dunlop
900G OS
Dunlop
Inferno 104
Dunlop
Lady G
Dunlop
MFil 400, 500, 600 & 700 + MFil Lady G
Dunlop
MaxPly McEnroe
Fischer
GDS Rally
Head
Airflow 3, 5 and 7
Head
Flexpoint 10
Head
Flexpoint 6
Head
i.S6
Head
Liquidmetal 4
Head
Ti.S1, Ti.S2, Ti.S4, Ti.S5, Ti.S6, Ti.S7
Prince
More Game, More Power
Prince
O3 Pink
Prince
O3 Red
Prince
O3 Silver
Prince
Shark MP and OS
Prince
Speedport - Silver, Black and White
Prince
TT Bandit
Prince
TT Grande
Prince
TT Hornet
Prince
TT Scream
Prince
Turbo Beast MP version Only
Slazenger
Pro X1
Volkl
Catapult 1 (All versions)
Volkl
Catalpult 2
Volkl
Catapult 3
Volkl
DNX 3
Volkl
DNX 8
Volkl
Tour 8
Wilson
H2, H4 & H5
Wilson
HH 5.3 MP & OS
Wilson
HH 2.7
Wilson
Hyper Pro Staff 6.1
Wilson
Hyper Pro Staff Surge
Wilson
Hyper Sledge Hammer
Wilson
n4OS
Wilson
nPro 98
Wilson
nPro Open and nPro Open X
Wilson
nSix Two 113
Wilson
Triad 2.0, 3.0, 5.0
Yonex
MP7
Yonex
Vcon 15 & 17

NOTE:
Racquets listed here have contributed to elbow pain for some of our customers. Because the racquet is listed here, does not necessarily mean it will contribute to pain for all users. This list is not exhaustive as it only represents the racquets used by our customers who have suffered from arm/elbow pain. We will keep this list updated as new racquets contributing to arm pain are brought to our attention. In many cases we have been able to modify the above racquets so our customers would not need to purchase a new racquet.

RECOMMENDED RACQUETS:
We are often asked to recommend racquets that are arm-friendly.  Typically we point the customer asking these questions to the racquet specifications for the answer. However in early 2010 we created a blog entry that listed the racquets in production at that time that we considered to have healthy racquet specifications.  If you are interested in this information it can be found on our blog under the entry titled ARM FRIENDLY TENNIS RACQUETS
 
COMMENTS ON PAIN RELIEF/TREATMENT:
If you are suffering from tennis elbow and continue to play we strongly recommend that you use an antiinflamatory such as Aleve, (consult your physician before taking any medication.) The Aleve will last many hours. Take it before your match.

After the match be sure to ice the elbow as quickly as possible. A bag of frozen peas or an ice pack will do the trick for you!
 
The TheraBand FlexBar is a new product we have added to our online shop to assist those who are suffering from tennis elbow.  This is a product recommended and used by Physical Therapists for treating a preventing tennis elbow.
 
Finally we are strong advocates of natural healing and have had a great deal of success with acupuncture as a treatment for tennis elbow. The local acupuncturist that we refer our customers to is Dr. Kim.

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