Why Get Tennis Elbow in the First Place?

As we know “tennis elbow” is a term for extreme pain in the elbow!  Sounds simple but what can we do to preclude a case of “Tennis Elbow”?  For one we could simply not use our arms because tennis elbow can be a result of any number of activities.

Enough!  We are tennis players so what can we do?  Generally speaking we need to understand that repetitive shock on the arm, wrist, and shoulder is, at some point, going to hurt.  So, shock is the problem!  Not high frequency vibration that can be damped by a 3 gram rubber vibration damper inserted into the string bed.

Shock is the initial impact that sends the force as far as it will go!  Eliminate shock!  That’s the answer but total elimination of shock in a tennis racquet, string, and ball unit is difficult.  When I prepare a racquet one of the characteristics I calculate is effective stiffness.  Effective Stiffness is the combination, and product of, racquet stiffness and string plane stiffness.

I have found that effective stiffness of 30 or below is highly unlikely to “cause” tennis elbow.  If you don’t know what your effective stiffness is simply consider using a string with low dynamic stiffness like natural gut or multi-filament synthetic.   Very simply low dynamic stiffness means the string continues to stretch while in contact with the ball whereas a high dynamic stiffness will get much stiffer at impact.  Please eliminate the use of very “stiff” polyester based string at high tensions.  If you need to use polyester, for any reason, consider staying below 50 pounds when requesting tension.

Please give me a call if you have any questions or need string recommendations.


Posted on February 13, 2013, in News!, String, Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. John, I agree with you about the stiffness rating, I have only ever seen this listed by the USRSA, why don’t string manufactures list it on there packaging. Also I changed to a Powerangle racket as this was the racket that had the least shock value. (wouldn’t change back!)

    • It would be helpful information of course but manufacturers are hesitant to put “absolute performance numbers” on packages because the stringing process is totally out of their control. You will see general numbers like durability, playability, etc., but these have no data that can be applied to every possible racquet and tension possibility.

      For years I have tested string and calculated “power potential” which is a function of elongation. This data can be seen on the “String Characteristics” tab on the IART web site.

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