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Treating Tennis Elbow with Active Release Technique

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Treating Tennis Elbow with Active Release Technique

Tennis Elbow Pain

**Disclaimer: The following story is fictional in nature but represents a typical treatment process and recovery due to active release technique (ART) therapy for many patients suffering from Tennis elbow.  It’s purpose is to help patients and potential patients to understand the typical pain and origination of injury relating to tennis elbow caused by certain sports and athletic exercises like tennis and racquetball.  We hope it can help you better understand your injuries and effective treatments if you or someone you know are experiencing something similar.  If you can relate to this story, please give us a call for a brief consultation about your injuries.


A typical tennis elbow story and relief with Active Release Therapy

My name is Steven, and this is my story about treating my case of tennis elbow with active release therapy.

I am a fairly regular racquetball player.  Generally, I will play for two to three hours per week at my local 24 Hour Fitness location. I’ve been playing since college, and I’m now 35 and married with kids. I have never had a serious sports related injury in my life. Other than a few pulled muscles, a lot of scrapes and bruises, and a concussion back when I played football in high school, getting injured playing sports was not ever really an issue for me in my younger years.

Not the same injury recovery as the good old days…

One day, however, I noticed that after I left the gym, there was a slight pain in the outer area of my right elbow.  I figured it probably was not that big of a deal – maybe I bumped it against the wall or something when I was playing racquetball with my friend?  Later that evening, when I went to lift my son’s bag of baseball gear before I took him to practice, I noticed a pain shooting down from my elbow to my wrist.  Again, I shrugged it off, and simply swapped the bag to the other hand. I figured that the pain would eventually subside on its own, so I took a couple ibuprofen and decided not to worry about it too much.

For the next couple of days, my arm seemed okay. Perhaps a bit sore, but nothing too terrible. This all changed when I went back to the gym to play racquetball with some of my buddies 3 days later. I managed to play fairly well for a half hour or so before the shooting pains returned. Because I didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of the guys, I powered through it – but my performance suffered.  My arm suffered more. Immediately after leaving the gym, I walked to the drug store next door and bought some Aleve, and took one right away. Even steering my car with my right arm was a somewhat painful experience.

The search for what ailed my aching arm and elbow…

I decided to take a week off from the gym (now it’s serious :-)…), and avoided lifting things with my right arm.  By the end of the week I was able to lift things normally – but as soon as I went back to play racquetball, the pain started all over again. This prompted me to get online and research my symptoms: outer elbow pain, pain during wrist extension and when lifting with my palm down. This latest episode also caused a new symptom: my arm became quite stiff after a night of sleep, and became stiff when I was at work while sitting at my desk. The radiating pain also made typing and using a mouse somewhat irritating as well, though I managed to deal with it, thanks to the assistance of Aleve.

My searches on the Internet revealed that I probably had a case of tennis elbow, even though I haven’t played tennis in years.  Apparently the injury is most common in tennis players, but it also occurs a lot in racquetball players naturally. Plus, apparently just about anybody can get this injury if they overexert themselves or make the right repetitive motions.  I seemed to have a fairly intermediate case, from what I had read.  The mildest cases apparently will resolve with rest – but mine did not. The most severe cases will keep you from fully extending your arm – but my case wasn’t that bad. I just seemed to have chronic pain whenever I played racquetball.

What I found out about ART therapy while researching…

For me, giving up racquetball wasn’t an option.  So I decided to find a way to get it treated. I started reading about potential treatments for tennis elbow on the Internet, and I discovered one option that seemed like it might be successful which was Active Release Therapy, Active Release Technique, or ART therapy for short.  According to my research and reviews I’ve read, it has proven itself to be quite useful for tennis elbow treatment.

And as I read more…

Active release therapy is a soft tissue therapy system used to alleviate pain and treat issues with ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerves. It works by seeking to eliminate adhesions and scar tissue in damaged or overused muscles. From what I read, I had likely developed adhesions in my arm because of overuse or overexertion of my arm when I was playing racquetball. The symptoms associated with adhesions in the lower arm seemed to match up pretty closely with what I was experiencing, so I thought it might be a good plan to give ART therapy a try.

I sought out a local active release practitioner via the internet.  Apparently it is used by physical therapists, athletic trainers, and chiropractors as that was who typically came up during these searches online.  I ended up going to Kinetic Sports Rehab in Seattle (Fremont neighborhood) as I also have a buddy that had gotten chiropractic treatment there as well.

Treatment from a certified Active Release Technique Provider

The chiropractor confirmed that I was in fact suffering from tennis elbow, and we began ART therapy the same day.  The treatment involved the chiropractor working my muscles with his palm, fingers, and thumb while he had me move my arm to various positions.  I have to say that this was a bit uncomfortable at first, but the relief I felt afterwards made it well worth it.  I went through a handful of treatments (that my insurance covered), and after each one I could tell that my arm motions were smoother, more effortless, and far less painful than they had been previously. This was an immense relief to me, because it meant that I was that much closer to getting back to playing racquetball – which I really missed.

When my treatments were finished, my arm actually felt better than it did before I was injured.  I noticed faster reaction times and improved stamina whenever I would play. Most of all, I was back to my pain-free self, which made an immense difference in my life.  Not only was I performing better at the gym, but I was able to stop popping aleve, and enjoy life a bit more, rather than always being in a state of mild irritation due to my arm pain.

Speaking from my experiences – I would recommend active release technique to anybody else with tennis elbow.

For any current patients or patients who have experienced relief with active release therapy, if you feel so obliged, please leave a reply in the comments section about your experience with tennis elbow, it’s symptoms, and how ART therapy has helped you recover and lead an active life again.  We’d love to hear from you!

**last caveat:-), this article is  not intended for you to diagnose yourself, just a handy story to help you identify tennis elbow and it’s signs and symptoms as well as a typical patient story we hear, here at Kinetic.  Be sure to always call your doctor or chiropractor if you are experiencing prolonged pain as described in the article.**

About Kinetic Sports Rehab Chiropractor, KineticSR (58 Posts)

Kinetic Sports Rehab in Seattle offers an alternative to traditional sports physical therapy through functional rehabilitation treatment. Focusing on soft tissue manipulation via active release technique, graston technique, and chiropractic, Kinetic delivers cutting edge physical therapy alternatives for sports injuries, whiplash and car accident injury, and work related injuries.

Kinetic Sports Rehab
701 North 36th Street SeattleWA98103-8868 USA 
 • (206) 547-0707


  1. gok kast  December 28, 2011

    hi i came to youre blog, and I have read some great information on it. It’s all about the game Gratis gokkasten let’s PLAY!!!

  2. Carol  January 26, 2012

    Hey this is exactly what I have called tennis elbow, I am going to have treatment with my kinesitherapist. But not chiropractic! I want to know if kinesitherapist treatment is the same treatment???

    • Kayla  March 6, 2012

      Doug thanks so much for nihrasg this. I too have had tennis elbow’ however the pain radiates from the middle of the forearm to the outside of the elbow. I believe I injured it when swinging a heavy driver (best and logest drive of my life, though). After trying ice-heat-physical therapy-massage-injections were the only thing that gave me relief. It was so bad I couldn’t grasp anything. All other medical conditions were ruled out. I will, however, attempt the exercises this week and let you know how effective they are for me. Injections were painful, so if these exercises work I’ll be a very happy girl!

  3. Terri Larrea  March 19, 2012

    Loving the info on this website, you have done outstanding job on the blog posts.

  4. ipad  March 26, 2012

    You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material.


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