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Will changing to a double handed back hand help my tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow is a condition which affects the muscles of the forearm which produce extension of the wrist and fingers. Whilst there are a number of muscles that produce this action they are collectively known as the wrist extensors and join together to attach to the outside of the elbow via the common extensor tendon. These muscles are active throughout a backhand stroke.

The backhand can be divided into 3 stages.

  1. PREPARATION
    • Begins with the first motion of the racket and arm in the backswing
    • Ends with the forward motion
    • MUSCLE ACTIVITY DURING THIS PHASE IS VERY LOW WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE WRIST EXTENSOR MUSCLES

  2. ACCELERATION
    • Begins with the forward movement of the racket and arm
    • Ends with ball strike
    • MUSCLE ACTIVITY DURING THIS PHASE IS VERY HIGH IN THE WRIST EXTENSORS.

  3. FOLLOW-THROUGH
    • a. Begins with the ball strike 
    • b. Ends with the completion of the shot
    • MUSCLE ACTIVITY IN THIS PHASE IS HIGH IN THE WRIST EXTENSORS

Research conducted amongst a group suffering from tennis elbow, indicated that during a backhand stroke, amateur players show considerably higher activity in the wrist extensor muscles than professional tennis players that were not suffering from tennis elbow. This was most pronounced during ball strike and follow-through. Poor technique corresponded with increased muscular activity in injured players. Video analysis identified the following themes to poor techniques were:

  1. Open racket face at impact
  2. 'Elbow leading' therefore a late contact point, too close to the body

Using 2 hands has been recommended for players with tennis elbow, however, no significant difference has been identified between muscle activity in the extensor muscles between the one- and two-handed backhand. It is however, possible that the use of the 2nd hand increases the control and limits the range of movement achieved during the stroke, with the extra hand acting as a barrier to inappropriate elbow, wrist and hand movement.

To date there is no evidence that using a second hand on your back hand will affect the wrist extensor muscles in your forearm, however, there may be other advantages which could help to manage the condition.