Today, we’ll answer the question: Can BJJ cause tennis elbow?
This one is personal to me. I have dealt with tennis elbow in both arms for almost two years now. That’s also when I started doing martial arts. So there’s a correlation…
BJJ is a grip-heavy game. A lot of pulling and grabbing involves using your elbows a lot.
So yes, BJJ can cause tennis elbows. I’m experiencing them myself.
What Is A Tennis Elbow?
Tennis Elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, creates pain in the elbow. It’s described as an overuse of your tendons. The tendons in your elbows are too weak for the movements you make.
I find the pain to be very uncomfortable. It numbs your whole arm. I find it hard to grab onto things and to concentrate when the pain starts.
The pain usually starts gradually. At the beginning of BJJ, I didn’t have any pain. Then, it builds up gradually. By the end of class, I hold my arms in pain and have trouble showering, dressing up, etc…
What Causes Tennis Elbow in BJJ?
In BJJ, your arms work a lot. Especially as a white belt, you rely on your strength. This is not easy on your tendons.
Like other injuries in BJJ, I believe tennis elbow comes from poor technique.
At least, I think that was it in my case. In the beginning, I was too tense and didn’t have enough knowledge on how to grip, conserve energy, when to go hard, and when to go light.
I was also going to the Gym at that time. I built muscle fast and trained BJJ at the same time. This didn’t help. I wasn’t focusing on building grip and underarm strength, and I believe this was too much for my tendons.
How To Prevent Tennis Elbow in BJJ?
The most obvious thing is to learn the right technique. But this this takes time. You should go slow if you feel a sharp pain in your elbows.
Try to use your arms less. Try to emphasize technique over strength. Also, take a break. If you take pain pills and keep training, it will get worse and might become chronic.
So it would be best if you were careful here.
I kept training BJJ despite the pain. And that was a big mistake, and that’s why I’m still dealing with it. It’s getting better but slowly.
If you want to prevent a tennis elbow, you should emphasize doing grip strength and underarm strength exercises.
I had an imbalance between muscle and tendon strength, and that was my issue. My tendons couldn’t keep up. Now, I’m trying to strengthen my tendons.
Treating Tennis Elbow in BJJ
I tried everything. I went to a doctor, did physical therapy, took painkillers, and did stretching exercises and strength exercises, so I know what works and what doesn’t work.
So pain killers you should only take if the pain is unbearable. It’s not a cure, even though it can help a bit.
Stretching exercises didn’t work for me. A doctor also explained to me recently that stretching doesn’t strengthen the tendons. He said that we need to focus on strength exercises.
And that’s what I’m doing now. And I feel like it’s working. I don’t believe in seeing a doctor. The two doctors I visited told me the same thing – do forearm strengthening exercises.
You can find a ton of them on YouTube. Just follow these instructions, and you should be able to heal your tendons by yourself.
Some even had surgery on their tendons. I wouldn’t recommend that. The success rate is not that high that you should risk getting surgery there.
So, to heal your tendons, you should take a break, and when you don’t feel the pain anymore, you should start doing these strengthening exercises. Then, you give it a couple of weeks, and you can go back to practice.
I will update you on how I’m dealing with it. But now, for the first time in 2 years, I am confident I can heal my elbows.
Can BJJ Cause Tennis Elbow – Final Words
To summarize, Tennis elbows come from having tendons that are too weak. There’s an imbalance between your muscle strength and your tendon strength.
This, coupled with poor technique and viola, you get tennis elbows.
Now, this is not the end of the world. You can treat them by doing strength exercises and taking rest.
If you take these two things seriously, it should heal.
If you have any further questions, please let me know. We are in it together.