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Ace your understanding Tennis elbow explained - Blog banner image (1)
Megan Li14 May 20243 min read

Ace your understanding: Tennis elbow explained

Today, we want to shed some light on a condition that’s more common than you might think, especially in Singapore with its thriving tennis community, and that’s tennis elbow. This condition can cause significant discomfort and inconvenience for both new and seasoned tennis players, so we want to help you understand what causes it, how to treat it, and why seeking professional help is important for a full recovery.

(A big thank you to Megan, Senior Physiotherapist at our Orchard Clinic, for her expert opinion on this uncomfortable condition!)

The condition

Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis), is a condition that affects the wrist extensors. These are a group of muscles located on the underside of the forearm that work together to extend or straighten the wrist joint. They play a crucial role in activities such as typing, lifting objects, and, of course, performing sports movements.

Contrary to the condition’s namesake, tennis elbow affects more than just tennis players. It can occur in anyone engaging in repetitive activities that strain the forearm muscles and tendons. Having said that, playing tennis is a common cause of the condition as the sport relies on heavy repetition of movements like backhand strokes. This is made worse when using poor technique, excessive wrist extension, or gripping the racquet too tightly.

The causes and symptoms

Tennis Elbow Image

While tennis elbow is typically characterised by pain and discomfort in the wrist, pain in the wrist does not always signify tennis elbow. Similar symptoms can arise from a variety of conditions that affect the elbow and forearm.

The condition is not just an inflammatory condition but a combination of tendon degeneration and disruption caused by repetitive stress and strain on the tendons involved in gripping, lifting, or even typing. Over time, this strain leads to micro-tears and structural changes to the tendons. When this occurs, individuals will commonly experience pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, where the tendons attach to the bone.


While we always recommend consulting with a physiotherapist or qualified fitness professional at the start of a new muscular training programme, here are some of our favourite exercises to help strengthen the wrist extensors that you can integrate into your routine.

Reverse wrist curl (2–3 sets of 10–15 reps)

  1. Sit or stand with your forearm resting on the edge of a table or your thigh.
  2. While holding a light dumbbell in your hand with your palm facing down, slowly curl your wrist upward, bringing the weight towards you.
  3. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

Rubber band extension (2–3 sets of 10–15 reps)

  1. Position a rubber band or resistance band around your fingers and thumb.
  2. Spread your fingers apart against the resistance of the band.
  3. Hold for 2–3 seconds, then release.

Ball squeeze (2–3 sets of 10–15 reps)

  1. Hold a stress or tennis ball in your hand.
  2. Squeeze the ball for 2–3 seconds as hard as you can, then release.


Treatment for tennis elbow aims to alleviate pain, encourage healing, and restore as much function as possible. Physiotherapy plays an important role in the treatment process as it provides a variety of methods, such as massage and joint mobilisation, to relieve pain and improve the health of the affected area.

Exercise prescription is crucial for restoring function, particularly when overseen by a qualified fitness professional with expertise in the condition. Optimal movements focus on enhancing forearm muscle and tendon strength while improving flexibility and stability in the elbow joint.

If the condition stems from daily activities like typing, an ergonomic evaluation and adjustments are recommended to mitigate the risk of recurrence.

Seek professional help

If you’re suffering from tennis elbow, you should seek professional help from a qualified professional. They can provide you with a comprehensive assessment of your condition, an accurate diagnosis, and prescribe a personalised treatment plan to address your specific needs. Delaying treatment or attempting to self-treat tennis elbow can lead to a prolonged recovery time and increase the risk of complications. You will save yourself time and stress tomorrow if you choose the right intervention today.

Get in touch with us if you need help so we can connect you with our team of experienced physiotherapists. They’re here and ready to provide the support and guidance you need to overcome your challenges and help you return to your normal activities with confidence.

Once you've regained full function, we also recommend seeking professional coaching to ensure your backhands minimise the risk of recurrence. Our range of tennis programs at Savitar Tennis Centre, City Hall, is dedicated to improving your technique, amplifying enjoyment, and nurturing a lasting love for tennis.


Megan Li

Megan is a registered physiotherapist (Hong Kong, Singapore). Most of her career spanned for sports injury management and prevention, also enhancing performance to elite athletes. The athletes she supported are the delegates and medalists from the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, South East Asian Games, East Asian Games, to name but a few.