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5 Archer's Elbow FAQs

Archer's elbow can be very painful. I should know, ever since I started practicing more I notice a slight tinge in my left elbow and sore to the touch. Did I mention I'm left handed? I did some research and discovered that archer's elbow is very similar, or just like, having tennis elbow and many of the treatments are the same. I've listed below information on what causes it, some exercises that can prevent it and the treatment of it. I hope if you have it the information below will help you get over it. ~Dennis

Related Video: Archery | Injuries and Overbowing

Can Archery Cause Tennis Elbow?

Quick answer is yes. Let's explore how it happens then later how to prevent and cure it. So it seems that Archer's Elbow is similar to tennis elbow and in many cases something else you are doing is actually the cause of the tendentious.

What is Archer's Elbow Exactly? Archer's elbow, or lateral epicondylitis as it’s called in medical terms, is tenderness and pain on the outside (called the lateral side) of the elbow, specifically in the band of muscles that cross over the elbow joint to connect into the upper arm (the humerus). And Tendonitis (Archer's) elbow, is a condition in which the tendons, supporting the elbow joint get inflamed. This is an inflammatory condition, which causes swelling, pain in the area around the elbow joint and makes it difficult to move the elbow or draw on the bow.

In the next few section I'll cover the prevention and cure of Archer's elbow.

How can I prevent Archer's elbow?

You should relax your shoulders - they should be at the same level when you are standing normally and when you are shooting. Keep your weight evenly distributed on your feet. Keeping your torso upright. If your stance and posture are incorrect, you will put more strain on your shoulders and elbow, and compensating for this by contorting your body (e.g. leaning backwards, popping up the front shoulder), you increase the risk of injury.

You shouldn't lock your elbow. Locking your elbow adds a lot of tension and stress this can result in hyperextension. There should not be a significant amount of pressure on the elbow when you're at full draw.

In addition, watch your bow grip. If you wrap all your fingers around the bow, your arm alignment is likely to be incorrect and skewed. Rotate the hand so that the knuckles are at  around 45 degrees from the riser and keep the fingers off the riser. The pressure should be firmly on the pad between your  thumb and forefinger. If you don't have a bowsling, gently touch your thumb and forefinger to retain the bow after the shot. Try not to do the deathgrip because handshock might be the result. Try using a finger sling or a wrist sling, I've heard where this might help.

There's a sweet spot you'll eventually learn where you're gripping the bow just enough to hold it from flying out, but you're not squeezing the bow to hard.

Because gently wrapping your fingers around the bow as opposed to strangling it will also be beneficial. The natural tendency is to squeeze the bow as you are drawing it back because you're straining to draw it back-- naturally your entire body's going to tense up. This is a habit that pretty much every beginning archer needs to train themselves out of

Also, gripping the bow too tightly will make you twist the bow as you fire, which is going to mess with your accuracy. You should be able to draw the bow with an open hand (just don't shoot with an open hand because that arrow might arrange a friendly howdy-do with your fingers)

Also, did you stretch after shooting?

How can I treat Archer's tendonitis?

How to Correct It.  From what I have read the majority of problems with Archers can be corrected by using proper form. So the first thing you should do is have someone watch your form and make sure that the back muscles are doing the work and that your wrist is not bending backwards as you draw on the string. Next is rest and ice.

Many experts suggest that you should only work and shoot with that elbow as long as you do not cause an increase in pain. Use an ice pack for 10-15 minutes on the area, 2-3 times a day. Even better is to take a dozen Dixie cups, fill them with water and put them in the freezer. I found this little nugget "When frozen, rip off a little bit of the paper and give the area an ice massage for about 8 minutes, until it goes numb" at minnehaha-archers.com.

The advise goes to say "Do this 2-3 times a day. Keep the ice handy, because after you do your exercises, you’re going to ice the elbow down." I’ve used  Therabands or rubber tubing in the past to do the exercises with. If you don’t have them, very light dumbbells will also work. Once you can hold your arm straight out and push your wrist up against someone pushing down without seeing stars from the pain, then you can start using the
Therabands or dumbbells.

How to relieve elbow Tendonitis pain?

I stumbled onto this website (athletico.com) that gives you get advise on how to alleviate the pain and discomfort.

1. Heat

If the pain is chronic and has been going on for at least 1-2 weeks, put a moist hot pack around your elbow and forearm (taking care to avoid direct contact of the heat with the skin). This will bring blood flow and nutrients to the area to help the healing process.

2. Stretch

Perform gentle stretching to the forearm musculature. These stretches should be performed in a PAIN-FREE manner. You should feel a slight stretch or pull along the muscles, but elbow pain should not be present. Hold stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Stretches should be performed 3-5 times per day.

Wrist flexor stretch for medial elbow pain.

Wrist extensor stretch for lateral elbow pain. 

3. Counterforce brace

You may have seen someone walking around with a strap around their forearm. This is most likely a counterforce brace. It helps dissipate the force from the muscles before it reaches the point of your elbow pain. There are several different brands available on the market. For proper fit place the most padded part 2-3 finger widths below the point of your pain (either the medial epicondyle or lateral epicondyle). The brace should fit snug but not too tight to the point where you are cutting off circulation to your hand. The counterforce brace should be worn for all activity.

4. Wrist immobilization brace

If elbow pain is severe and/or you have significant forearm pain present, then a wrist immobilization may benefit you more than the counterforce brace listed above. Immobilization of the wrist will allow the wrist muscles to rest completely and assist with putting them in a good position to heal. The wrist brace can be bought over the counter. It should be worn with all activities.

What are some other common archery injuries?

This may seem obvious that injuries to the upper body are most common.

The drawing arm is especially susceptible to overuse injuries. This can be caused by over training and often combined with not enough rest and recovery time. Shoulder, finger and hand injuries are also usually reported.

In the shoulder, the rotator cuff muscles are most vulnerable to injury. Together, these four muscles stabilize the shoulder joint and shoulder blade.

1) Supraspinatus. This holds your humerus in place and keeps your upper arm stable. And helps lift your arm.
2) Infraspinatus. This is the main muscle that lets you rotate and extend your shoulder.
3) Teres Minor. This is the smallest rotator cuff muscle. Its main job is to assist with rotation of the arm away from the body.
4) Subscapularis. This holds your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade and helps you rotate your arm, hold it straight out and lower it.

When the arm is held above the head or behind the back injury may result. Repetitive activity in this position can lead to soreness of these muscles, causing some pain.

An Archer's neck, chest and back are also vulnerable to injuries and pain.

Common injuries:
Neck pain
Back pain
Impingement of the rotator cuff

Unfortunately, if you participate in archery long enough you will probably end up with one of these injuries, the Archer's elbow seems to be the most common. A lot of the advice given to prevent Archer's elbow is to stretch well and make sure that your stance and form is correct. To also prevent it you may want to ice your elbow and stretch really well after each practice session. I hope this article helped and happy shooting.



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