This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 201 (April 2012).
I have tennis elbow that only hurts when I pick up something heavy. I tried climbing, felt pain, rested a week, and then climbed again. My elbow hurt
after that session and I stopped climbing for two weeks. Should I wait until there is no pain at all before climbing again or starting rehab?
—Andrewski, via rockandice.com
A few months ago I, for the first time, started to suffer from tennis elbow. More precisely known as lateral epichondylosis, it is one of the few injuries
I had managed to avoid.
Though Jesus certainly built my hammer drill, he was remiss not to include a remote. After some fervent bolting on a local cliff, I could barely lift the
kettle, let alone the drill.
One evening while cooking for my brood, I started to lift the frying pan from the stove and all but dropped a mass of sizzling flesh onto my bare tootsies.
Oh, it hurt like I was breast-feeding a piranha. Surely this can’t be good, I heard myself mutter, playing the part of so many of my patients. Note
to self, don’t pick up the frying pan. On second thought, do it a lot.
After a week of frying-pan therapy, my elbow was 90 percent better. So I stopped. I tell everyone not to stop, but for some reason I did, and had to start
all over again a couple of weeks later.
Select a heavy frying pan from the kitchen. Flatten your arm across the table so that your wrist hangs off the end, with your elbow at roughly 130 degrees
(almost straight), and your shoulder slightly higher than the table surface. This is typically the most aggravating angle, but you will need to refine
it to find the most painful position for you.
Grip the handle of the pan and lower it until it is hanging. Use your other hand to lift the pan back to its starting point, keeping the optimal angle
in the elbow, then take five to seven seconds to lower it again. You may need to change pans to get the weight right. Start at two to three sets of
10 repetitions once a day, and build it up to twice a day depending on results.
I have tried this on several other patients in recent months, and the frying pan seems to isolate the issue with more accuracy than the usual dumbbell.
Check out the video at www.drjuliansaunders.com/resources/videos.