Dealing with tennis elbow

i bought one of the compression straps that goes just below the elbow and that helps. I used to get “tennis elbow” worse when I c1ed. Then I would just switch sides but with kayaking that is not so much an option. I also think the elbow is getting some strain from roll practice although it is the lead arm on a sweep roll and thus is somewhat straightened. Any tips besides the compression band for dealing with tennis elbow and paddling?

Tennis elbow is a over use inflamation injury. I had it in the 90s. It got bad enough that I had to use two hands to pick up a file or I might drop it. The orthopedic surgeon tried braces, and steroid shots. Steroid shots…they put a little lidocaine (sp, pain killer) on the top of the surenge (sp) to lesson the pain. It didn’t work. That shot hurt worse than the elbow.

The way I got rid of it was by wearing the strap with the pad and changing the motions of the arm. The strap has a pad you put over the ligiment about a third of the way down from the elbow. The compression sleeve worked for other elbow pain but not that. Ibuprofan too. … Changing the motion for me meant changing the siding on my house. It worked. It is a repeditive use injury. So change the motions.

This one worked some. I still use it from time to time as required.

Similar to the one that worked for me…the gel pad puts more pressure on the thing…

Perhaps you need to work on a different roll. …or some more bicycle riding. … or change the siding on your house. :wink:

thanks overstreet, that’s pretty much what I got (elbow strap) and am using it when paddling and even some other times when the elbow starts 'barking". About all I can say is that it is not getting any worse and I’m still able to paddle with the strap on. Not quite healing though. I’ve cut paddling and rolling down to 4x a week. The house is brick so siding it is out of the question. So far I’ve tried a therapy of dragging swimmers to the bank, chasing down and and paddling with two kayak paddles simultaneously and dragging my own boat over large boulders around sieves and all of that definately hasn’t helped. Now I’ve got some real itchy red eyes from practice rolling in the river and trying to watch my paddle blade to make sure it is planing. The good news is: the broken finger is hardly noticeable (from a couple of months ago when I could barely hold the paddle), the hips are only a little sore (being artificial and practicing rolling) , the knees are just their normal wankiness. The feet aren’t super funky and cracking, the sunburn is hardly noticeable, and scrapes on the legs (from entering and exiting the kayak) are now just routine. I’ve even tried pbr therapy but the curls haven’t helped. :woozy_face:

Your course is set… If it don’t hurt it don’t work.

Tennis elbow is usually from doing too much too soon, such as switching to a bigger paddle, GP to a wing, etc, without giving your connective tissue adequate time to adapt.

It’s always best to see a sports doctor. That said, I’m not a doctor, but what has worked for me is the Theraband Flexbar. I started with the red bar, and worked up to the green bar. Video at As always YMMV.

Greg Stamer

Repetitive use and continued localized stress causes Tennis Elbow… and I’ve had it in both arms… though not from kayaking but general office work. Fancy bands, cortisone shots, the lot are just bandaids… Mr Tennis Elbow is going to take his sweet time in healing no matter what you do, and that can take up to 9 months or more depending on severity. Obviously restricting the activity that caused or is causing it is important, or at least be more aware of the ergonomics of arm position etc and adjust. If you have it bad… good luck. If only minor… changes should be instituted immediately to stop any advancement… even if that means stuffing away the kayak for a spell… if in fact the act of paddling is the culprit.

I had it bad a few years ago. Went to therapy, and they eventually gave up on me. I did get over it and have not been bothered for a few years. Now, it’s back. I believe the culprit was doing too much too quickly. I got a late start on kayaking season and ramped up mileage too quickly, and it’s probably going to cost me most of the season. As gstammer said, too much, too soon.

The bands below the elbow are a big help. Also helpful in getting past it was retooling my paddle stroke. I took a lesson, and thought my revised technique would keep me from re-injury. Apparently not, or I lost my stroke.

If you paddle with mostly abdominal rotation and end your stroke at your hip, your elbows shouldn’t be that involved. I doubt rolling is the culprit unless you do a real lot of rolling. Maybe have somebody take a look at your stroke with an eye to keeping your elbows out of the action.

Beyond that, exercises with bands helped me. Also, ice. Try to get ice on your elbows after paddling. Inflammation is the culprit, and the ice helps reduce inflammation, as does ibuprofen. Only ice doesn’t mess with your digestive tract and other organs the way iB does. Twenty minutes on, twenty off, for a few rounds.

Good luck, and I wish it wasn’t true, but I’m suffering with you!

This is something where I would consult with a competent orthopedist, perhaps specializing in sports medicine. rather than post a question here. You do not want this to progress to a permanent disability. There is often no quick fix or universal treatment for injuries such as this.

I had this problem when I switched from flat water paddling to kayak surfing. I finally figured out I was gripping the paddle too hard. If you lighten up on how you grip the paddle and open your hand slightly as you push your arm forward and keep your other hand looser, you are less likely to severely tighten the tendons in your arm. Also with more aggressive maneuvering with the paddle like, powerful braces, combat rolls in fast moving water etc. novice paddlers tend to tighten their grip instinctively to the point where it is a death grip on the paddle and it puts strain on the tendons. The other tip I found was using a different diameter paddle; I swithched from a large diameter shaft to a slightly smaller diameter shaft and it helped alot.

One thing that might help is take an NSAID such as ibuprofen prior to paddling, as inflamation makes any tendon/ligament problem worse. But it isn’t going to fix it on its own if your pain level is that high.

I had tennis elbow a few years ago from cartwheeling. Didn’t like any of the doc’s options, so I stumbled onto this book about trigger points. It fixed the elbow, and many other issues since then. For me, it was muscle tightness in the forearm and tricep playing tug-of-war, and the elbow was the loser. The tiny muscle in the elbow felt like a tendon because it was pulled tight like a guitar string. The other elbow felt like it had a muscle. Fixed the muscles above and below the elbow and the pain was gone. Used stretching, massage, dumbbells.

Trigger Point Therapy Workbook

thanks all, I’ll explore the flex bars and have ordered the trigger point workbook. I cut the paddling down a bit (3x a week) , wearing the strap for not only paddling but housework as well, and trying to use the other arm to drag boats and lift objects like milk etc. Doing all this, I can say it is improving a bit but I did have set back one day when I paddled hard and towed in swimmers (3x on new river dries) and portaged over boulders. I have been practicing rolling a lot and I do think that was a major stressor because my form is not very good (that’s why I’m practicing) and I’ve eased off of that a bit as well. Thanks again for all the thoughtful responses.

My experience is it never really goes away but you can keep it at a manageable level.
However, I helped load two heavy boats tonight.
I’ll know tomorrow if I shouldn’t have. Or maybe 2 am.

I switched from a wing paddle to bent shaft euro.
Straitening my wrists with a bent shaft helped me out.

I concur with @grayhawk. I had similar issues especially when I paddled hard with a straight shaft. I switched to a Lendal MCS (modified crank shaft) or bent shaft. I remember the relief to be nearly immediate so I invested in a bunch of them. Additionally, you may try a smaller blade and paddle at a higher cadence.

When I hurt my shoulder a made another switch to Greenland paddles while I healed.

Now I paddle both bent shaft (MCS) Lendals and various Greenland paddles without any issue. Hopefully You find the same or there’s always pedal drive systems now. :wink:

Many years ago I developed tennis elbow. At the time there was no tennis in my life just WW canoeing. I got relief with the elbow straps and after 2 years or so the problem disappeared.

I did make one change to my paddle stroke, both single and double blade, that took a lot strain off the affected elbow. I concentrated on pushing with the high side hand and only lightly pulling with the low side hand. For single blade that was pushing forward with the hand on the grip and only gently pulling back with the hand on the shaft. Same techinique was used with the double blade. Since then that approach, along with torso rotation, has had me trouble free.