Can Old Strings Cause Tennis Elbow? Explained

Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by Robert A. Foreman

Yes, old strings can cause tennis elbow due to reduced shock absorption and increased vibration transmitted to the arm. Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition marked by inflammation and pain in the outer part of the elbow.

Using worn-out strings diminishes their ability to absorb the impact of the ball, increasing the strain on the arm and leading to the development or aggravation of the tennis elbow. To avoid this, it is important to regularly replace your tennis strings to maintain optimal performance and reduce the risk of injury.

By using fresh strings, you can enhance your game and protect yourself from the potential onset of tennis elbow

What is a Tennis Elbow?

What is a Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that affects the tendons in the elbow. It occurs when the tendons connecting the muscles in the forearm to the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow become inflamed or damaged.

Tennis elbow is not limited to tennis players and can affect anyone who repetitively uses their forearm muscles.

Symptoms of Tennis Elbow

  • Gradual onset of pain on the outside of the elbow
  • Pain worsening with gripping or lifting objects
  • Weakened grip strength
  • Soreness or stiffness in the forearm and wrist
  • Pain when extending or bending the wrist

Types of tennis strings

There are various types of tennis strings available in the market, each with its own unique characteristics that cater to different playing styles and preferences. These include:

  • Monofilament strings: Made from a single strand of material such as polyester, these strings provide exceptional durability and control.
  • Multifilament strings: Constructed from numerous fibers, these strings offer enhanced comfort and playability, making them a popular choice for players seeking a more arm-friendly option.
  • Natural gut strings: Derived from animal intestines, natural gut strings provide excellent feel and power, although they tend to be less durable compared to synthetic options.

How tennis strings affect the player’s performance

String tension: The tension at which the strings are strung affects how much power and control the player can generate. Higher string tension generally results in greater control but reduced power, while lower tension provides more power but less control.

String gauge: The gauge refers to the thickness of the string. Thinner strings offer more feel and playability, but they tend to wear out faster. Thicker strings, on the other hand, provide greater durability but may sacrifice some touch and feel.

String material: Different materials used in tennis strings provide unique characteristics. For example, polyester strings offer excellent control and durability but can be harsh on the player’s arm. Synthetic gut strings, on the other hand, deliver a good balance of power, control, and comfort.

Can Old Strings Cause Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a common injury that affects many tennis players. It is characterized by pain and inflammation in the tendons of the forearm, near the elbow.

While there are various factors that can contribute to tennis elbow, such as poor technique and overuse, old tennis strings can also play a role. When tennis strings become old and worn, they lose their elasticity and ability to absorb shock effectively.

This can lead to increased vibrations and shock transmission to the player’s arm, potentially exacerbating the risk of developing tennis elbow. Additionally, old strings may lose tension, affecting the racquet’s feel and stability, which can impact the player’s stroke mechanics and increase the strain on their arm.

By maintaining fresh strings with the appropriate tension, players can minimize the strain on their arms and enjoy a smoother, more comfortable playing experience.

Techniques to Prevent Tennis Elbow

Here are some techniques to help prevent tennis elbow:

  • Ensure your tennis racket is properly sized and fitted to your hand to maintain proper grip.
  • Use the correct grip technique, such as the “Eastern” or “Semi-Western” grip, which can help distribute the impact of a shot more evenly across your arm.
  • Practice proper swing mechanics to avoid putting excessive strain on your elbow.
  • Warm up thoroughly before playing and incorporate specific exercises that target the muscles and tendons of the forearm.
  • Take regular breaks during extended play sessions to give your body time to rest and recover.

How to Choose the Right Tennis Strings

Choosing the right tennis strings is another important aspect of preventing tennis elbow. Different types of strings offer varying levels of power, control, and comfort. Here are some factors to consider when selecting tennis strings:

  • Material: Tennis strings are made from a variety of materials including natural gut, synthetic gut, polyester, and multifilament. Each material has its unique characteristics, so consider your playing style and preferences.
  • Gauge: The gauge determines the thickness of the string. Thicker strings tend to be more durable but can be stiffer, while thinner strings provide more feel but may break or lose tension more quickly.
  • Tension: The tension of the strings affects the power and control of your shots. Lower tension generally offers more power, while higher tension provides more control.
  • Racquet: Choose a racquet that is well-suited for your skill level and playing style. Consider using one with a larger sweet spot and better shock absorption properties.

Preventive And Exercises For Tennis Elbow

Strengthening Exercises for Forearms and Wrists

Here are a few exercises you can incorporate into your workout routine:

  1. Wrist Curls: Sit on a bench or a chair with your forearms resting on your thighs. Hold a dumbbell or a resistance band in your hand, palms facing upward. Slowly curl your wrist up and down, focusing on the movement coming from your wrist rather than your arm. Aim for 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
  2. Reverse Wrist Curls: Similar to wrist curls, this exercise targets the muscles on the back of your forearm. Hold the dumbbell or resistance band with your palms facing downward this time. Curl your wrist up and down, controlling the movement. Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
  3. Grip Strengthening: Squeeze a stress ball or a grip strengthener to enhance your forearm strength. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds and release. Repeat 10-15 times for each hand.

Stretching and Warm-up Routines

  1. Wrist Flexor Stretch: Extend one arm in front of you with your palm facing up. Use your other hand to gently pull back the fingers towards your body until you feel a stretch in your forearm. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other arm.
  2. Wrist Extensor Stretch: Extend one arm in front of you with your palm facing down. Use your other hand to pull the fingers back towards your body until you feel a stretch in your forearm. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other arm.
  3. Shoulder and Neck Rolls: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Roll your shoulders backward 10 times and then forward 10 times. Next, gently roll your neck from side to side, ensuring smooth and controlled movement.

Treatments for Tennis Elbow

Treatments for Tennis Elbow

If you do happen to develop tennis elbow, there are various treatments available to alleviate the pain and promote healing. Some common treatment options include:

Treatment MethodsBenefits
Rest and IceReduces inflammation and provides pain relief.
Physical Therapy ExercisesStrengthens the muscles around the elbow and improves flexibility.
Bracing or SplintingProvides support and immobilization to the affected area.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)Helps reduce pain and inflammation.
Steroid InjectionsMay be recommended for severe cases to reduce inflammation.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) TherapyA potential treatment option that utilizes the body’s own healing factors to promote tissue repair.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your specific condition.


Does the loss of tension in old strings increase the risk of tennis elbow?

While the loss of tension in old strings may have an impact on your performance, it is important to note that it does not directly increase the risk of tennis elbow.

However, the compromised playability of old strings may lead to players compensating for the lack of control and power by using incorrect technique, which can put excessive strain on the tendons of the elbow and ultimately increase the risk of developing tennis elbow.

What Is The Fastest Way To Cure Tennis Elbow?

The fastest way to cure tennis elbow is through a combination of rest, ice, compression, and exercises focused on strengthening the affected area.

Our verdict

It is clear that old tennis strings can indeed contribute to the development of tennis elbow. The repeated impact and vibrations caused by hitting the ball with old strings can put increased strain on the tendons and muscles in the arm.

Natural gut strings and multifilament synthetic strings are known to provide better shock absorption and can help distribute the impact more evenly, thereby reducing the strain on your arm. Remember, your health and well-being should always be a priority, whether you are a professional athlete or a casual player.

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