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Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Tennis Elbow - Fretting Guitar Doesn't Hurt, Lifting Milk Bottle Does. Why?

Firstly and most importantly, understand that whenever you perform a regular gripping or a finger flexing activity such as music and very specifically guitar, the fingers flex, as in fretting, and the extensor muscles of the fingers contract statically to support that action. By 'statically' I mean that the extensor muscles contract in one position. They become very static and shortened in that one position. This is also one of the main reasons why guitar players get so much tennis elbow. A shortened and static group of finger extensor muscles as well as wrist extensor muscles are very inflexible and become easy to injure. This is why we urge guitarists to exercise their finger and wrist extensor muscles through full ranges of motion so that the muscle stays strong, long and flexible. Properly strengthened finger and wrist extensor muscles will also maximize strength, stretch, speed and stamina.

Secondly, this muscle group (made up of finger extensor and wrist extensor muscles) will also be trained in one very specific plane based on what is necessary for the activity. In other words, if your left hand was in exactly the same position with the milk as when you fret the guitar strings, you would likely be very strong. By the way, this point has its limits, because after some time of repetition it is common to become weak even in that plane. In other words, it is good to address this problem now.

Thirdly, the outside of the elbow is most isolated when the hand is in a position where the thumb is basically pointed straight up to the sky. When there is a weight being held on top of that, milk carton, now you have the added weight and this becomes a situation where the injured elbow acts like a fulcrum and is isolated. If the weight rested on the forearm it would cause less isolation and therefore less pain. Yet, when the weight is in the hand it is as far away from the elbow as possible and increases the stress. The other point in this regard is that you are grasping the milk carton and therefore the extensor muscles of the fingers and the wrist are contracting and further isolating the outside of the elbow. A certain small movement will now cause extreme & sharp pain. That's when you know your outside elbow is most isolated. That's why people drop the milk in these situations.

The point is when we properly strengthen the hand wrist forearm and elbow, we must strengthen all of the muscles (extenors & flexors) in balance through full natural ranges of motion. This is how we prepare for our main activity (music, sports, work, craft, etc.) as well as other daily activities and still remain strong. Musicians must learn these proper hand wrist and forearm strengthening principles!

Go to and for one small investment you can reduce your chance of ever have tennis elbow or carpal tuneel syndrome to nearly zero! And you will know more about exercising the hand, wrist and elbow than most therapists.

Trained properly today to be healthy tomorrow!

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