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How To Handle Water Skier's Elbow and Tendinitis

October 10, 2017 2 Comments

How To Handle Water Skier's Elbow and Tendinitis

By: Professional Water Skier, Russell Gay

Water Skier's Elbow

Many skiers at some time will suffer through a pain in the elbow due to overuse causing tendiInitis.

Tendinitis is basically inflammation of the tendons as they insert on the related bone. The tendons connect the muscles to the bones. The suffix “–itis” means inflammation and is usually paired with the associated body part, as in epicondylitis or Achilles tendinitis.

In working with many skiers and coaches, we have found that it is hard to treat this on rest alone. Most skiers can't take the time to layoff of the skiing long enough for any results.  In fact, I have found from personal experience that rest alone doesn't help at all. It takes an active approach to fix the problem and this means changing up your current routine.  

While there are many exercises and treatments that can help alleviate or eliminate the pain, your equipment choice can also make a difference. Here are some of the recommendations that we have found to help skiers in the past.


 

Handle Size

Try choosing a larger diameter handle. Many beginner and intermediate skiers gravitate to a smaller diameter handle, thinking that they can get a better grip.  While this may feel true at first, you will tend to grip the handle too tight. Gripping the handle too hard will eventually lead to tendonitis.
You want to try to relax your forearms as much as possible to alleviate the extra pressure. In addition the bunching of the skin in your hands will lead to blisters and tears easier - especially in warmer water.  One of the leading causes of tennis elbow is repeatedly gripping the racquet too hard.  A key advice for tennis players is to try a larger grip size.

This same advice applies to water skiers. A larger grip size can help open up the hands and help reduce the temptation to squeeze the handle to hard.  We make handles in many diameters ranging from .888" all of the way up to 1.183". The 1.183" diameter size was designed specifically for relieving tendonitis.  This was designed to offer another way to change up your grip.  Many skiers will use this in practice and then change back to their favorite for a tournament. This is a very large diameter that you have to learn to relax your hands to grip.  

Our Custom Series of Handles offer the variety of sizes and also come in straight and radius options.

In working with some pros, we have found that altering your handle size can help as well.  Instead of using any handle every set, try using a much larger handle and then alternating every few sets with a smaller diameter. Gripping the exact same way every time is a sure way more problems. Anytime you can change up the grip will offer relief. 

Handle Shape

Many skiers also find that the radius handle will offer relief from elbow pain. If you currently ski with a straight bar, try switching to a radius handle. This will also take some pressure off the elbows.  

Gloves

Make sure you are wearing snug fitting gloves and getting the maximum grip you can out of your gloves and glove fit. Ill fitting gloves that slide will cause you to continue to readjust your grip and over grip the handle. 

Pro Locks

Another solution is to switch to our Pro Lock Gloves. These gloves are designed with a strap and dowel system to help you grip better while relaxing your forearms more. These gloves work better in combination with a smaller diameter handle.  The 1.00" "Standard" Diameter or the .940" "Small" Diameter handle works well with these gloves.

Tendonitis is a repetitive use injury. Anything you can do to mix things up will help reduce your problems. Sticking with the same routine, handle, grip, gloves etc. is not going to help solve the problem. Therapy, exercises and equipment changes are the best way to help solve the problem.  
These are recommendations based on skiing and personal experience. You should seek a doctor if you would like medical advice.   

2 Responses

Dave Benson
Dave Benson

December 28, 2020

Russ –
This is a great article. I have literally made every one of these changes at some point strictly by accident. Fortunately I have been without Tendonitis for most of the 5 decades I have been skiing. I did fight with it a long time ago when I was windsurfing and water skiing.
One of the things I have found is that body weight has a big influence on elbow stress. What better way motivation to lose weight than elbow relief…
I have also found compression sleeves to help but you need to weather them for most of the day for many days in a row.
One of the crew has an ongoing issue and has found a lot of relief from tennis elbow bands ( https://www.rehabmart.com/product/bandit-tennis-elbow-strap1-5123.html )
he wears while skiing.
I have no affiliation with this outfit – and am not sure this is the exact brand he uses – but similar. Claims he can’t ski without them.
Looks pretty simple – maybe Masterlilne could carry something like it.

BTW – Met Anna at Traverse last October. Great job raising that girl. Very nice.
Regards
Dave Benson

Todd Leach
Todd Leach

December 28, 2020

Golfer’s elbow pain on the palm up hand was crippling for me a couple of years ago. PT practitioner discovered that the root cause was not from tight forearms or biceps. Rather, it was the triceps! They wrap around the outside of the elbow and attached on the inside/underneath below the elbow joint. The pain was at the attachment. By working out the tightness of the muscle, the strain on the tendon was relieved. Graston, ART, and other muscle therapies got the muscle to release and move normally and tendinitis was healed. So, if you have pain on the inside of your palm up elbow, investigate your triceps.

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