How to Tape Tennis Elbow Properly

This article will discuss what tennis elbow is, its common symptoms, and how kinesiology tape can provide relief. You’ll learn how to properly apply kinesiology tape for tennis elbow, the benefits of taping, and when to avoid it. 

If you’re experiencing persistent elbow pain, don’t hesitate to consult with our orthopedic specialists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. Schedule an appointment today to explore your treatment options and get back to doing what you love. We have offices located in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia, for your convenience.

A therapist taping a tennis elbow injury in Atlanta, Georgia.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow (also known as lateral epicondylitis) is a common condition that causes pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow. Despite its name, you don’t have to play tennis to get it. 

Tennis elbow occurs when the tendons in your upper arm are overloaded, usually by repetitive wrist and arm motions. These motions can cause small tears in the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, a bony bump on the outer part of the elbow joint. Activities like playing tennis, painting, typing, or using tools can lead to this condition. 

Tennis Elbow Symptoms

Common symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow, near the bony prominence called the lateral epicondyle. This is where the tendons that connect the muscles of your forearm which extend your wrist and fingers to the elbow bone are attached.

The pain may radiate down your forearm and may get worse when you:

  • Grip something, like a racquet or a tool
  • Turn a doorknob
  • Shake hands
  • Lift something, especially with your palm facing down
 

Sometimes, even simple activities like picking up a cup of coffee can be painful. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a healthcare professional.

What is Kinesiology Tape?

Kinesiology tape, often called kinesio tape or KT tape, is a thin, stretchy, elastic cotton strip with an adhesive backing. It’s used to support muscles and joints without restricting movement.

When applied properly, kinesiology tape can help relieve pain and provide support to injured muscles and joints. It works by slightly lifting the skin away from the underlying muscles and tendons, which can reduce pressure and improve blood flow to the injured area.

How to Apply Kinesiology Tape For Tennis Elbow

Here’s a simple guide on how to apply kinesiology tape for tennis elbow:

Step 1: Preparation

  • Clean and dry the skin of your affected arm before applying the tape.
  • Cut a piece of kinesiology tape long enough to cover the area from just below your elbow to halfway down your forearm.
  • Round the edges of the tape to prevent the tape from peeling off too quickly.
 

Step 2: Positioning

  • Sit or stand in a comfortable position with your arm relaxed.
  • Extend your affected arm straight out in front of you or rest it on a table with your palm facing down.
 

Step 3: Application

  1. Start by tearing the backing of the kinesiology tape at one end, but don’t remove it completely.
  2. With the backing still on, apply the base of the tape just below the elbow, near the tendon attachment point on the outer part of your arm.
  3. Slowly peel off the backing while applying the tape along the forearm, towards your wrist. Apply the tape with a slight stretch, but not too tight – approximately 25% of the available stretch.
  4. Continue applying the tape until you reach the top of your hand.
  5. Gently rub the tape to activate the adhesive and make sure it sticks well to your skin.
 

Step 4: Finishing Touches

  • Rub the entire length of the tape to ensure it’s properly adhered to your skin.
  • If there are any loose ends, trim them with scissors to prevent them from catching on clothing.
 

Tips and Techniques

  • If you’re unsure about applying the tape correctly, consult an occupational or physical therapist for guidance.
  • Avoid applying the tape with too much tension, as it can cause discomfort or restrict blood flow.
  • If the tape causes any irritation or discomfort, remove it immediately.
 

By applying kinesiology tape in this stretched position, you provide support to the muscles and tendons around the elbow, reducing strain on the injured tendon attachment point at the lateral epicondyle.

What Are the Benefits of Taping for Tennis Elbow?

The benefits of using kinesiology tape for tennis elbow include:

  1. Pain Relief: Kinesiology taping can help reduce pain by providing support to the muscles and tendons around the elbow, easing the strain on the injured tendon attachment point.
  2. Improved Blood Flow: By gently lifting the skin, kinesiology tape can improve blood flow to the injured area, which helps reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  3. Support and Stability: The tape supports the affected arm, reducing stress on the injured tendon attachment. This support can help improve your ability to perform daily activities without pain.
  4. Interrupt Pain Transmission: The gentle stretch of the tape can help interrupt the transmission of pain signals, providing relief from discomfort associated with tennis elbow.
 

Overall, kinesiology taping for tennis elbow is a simple and effective way to manage pain and support healing, allowing you to return to your regular activities more comfortably.

When to Avoid Taping

Avoid using kinesiology tape for tennis elbow in the following situations:

  1. Open Wounds or Skin Irritation: Don’t apply kinesiology tape over open wounds, cuts, or irritated skin. This can worsen the condition and cause discomfort.
  2. Allergic Reactions: If you’re allergic to adhesive products, it’s best to avoid using kinesiology tape as it may cause an allergic reaction.
  3. Bone Fractures: If you suspect a bone fracture in your arm or elbow, don’t use kinesiology tape. It’s essential to seek medical attention immediately.
  4. Poor Circulation: Avoid using kinesiology tape if you have poor circulation or numbness in your arm or hand.
  5. Consult a Professional: If you’re unsure whether kinesiology taping is suitable for you, consult with a healthcare professional before using it. They can provide guidance based on your specific condition and needs.

Schedule an Appointment with Us Today!

Using kinesiology tape for tennis elbow can be a simple and effective way to manage pain and support healing. However, it’s essential to apply the tape correctly and to avoid using it in certain situations, such as over open wounds or in the case of bone fractures. 

If you’re experiencing persistent elbow pain or have any concerns about using kinesiology tape, don’t hesitate to consult with a healthcare professional. At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, our orthopedic specialists are here to help you find relief from tennis elbow and other orthopedic conditions.

Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about your treatment options! You can find our offices in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia. Visit us today!

Medically Reviewed by Laurie Johnson, MHS, OTR/L, CHT

 

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