Whether tennis is your game or you spend long hours at your computer, your elbows need strong muscles to support them and give them strength. Give your elbows a boost by working on your grip with a squeeze ball. Although it might seem that your hand is a long way away from your elbow, building the forearm muscles in between the two helps strengthen the muscle heads that support the elbow joint.
Squeeze balls can be fun, sophisticated or simply practical. Some are shaped like characters with eyes or ears that pop out as you squeeze, while others come in designer colors and patterns to match your style. Look for a couple of different levels of resistance in your squeeze balls. You need a softer one to start with as you start to build the muscles, but you need a firmer one as your muscles get stronger. Instead of squeeze balls, you can start with putty, move up to a tennis ball and then to a racquetball.
If you can make a fist when someone beats you to the only dress on the rack that's your size, you can exercise with a squeeze ball. Hold it in one hand and wrap your fingers around it, then squeeze it and hold the squeeze for three seconds. Try to compress the ball as much as possible. Repeat for two sets of 10.
Building the muscles around your elbow doesn't happen overnight, although you can start seeing results fairly quickly. Squeeze balls can easily fit in your handbag, or you can keep one in your car or on your desk at work. Work with the squeeze ball at least three times a day -- maybe on the train during your commute, after a stressful meeting at work or as you're watching TV. Even if only one elbow is hurting, work both hands equally with the stress ball to keep one arm from becoming unevenly stronger than the other.
Why It Works
Every time you squeeze the ball, you work more than your grip -- the muscles in your forearm contract and release as well, making them stronger and more flexible. These are the same muscles that support the tendons in the elbow. Making the muscles stronger can help relieve tendon pain and keep it from recurring as you continue your tennis or weightlifting exercises. If you need a bit more of a forearm -- and therefore elbow-strengthening -- workout, add wrist curls to your ball-squeezing regimen by resting your forearm on your thigh and lifting a light dumbbell by moving only your wrist. You can also wrap a rubber band around the end of your fingers and spread your fingers apart against the resistance.
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