Is A Heavier Racquet Better For Tennis Elbow?
Although tennis is a low contact sport that seldom results in serious injuries, half of the players will experience tennis elbow at some point in their lives. While not a very serious condition, it can cause much pain, making daily tasks difficult and playing tennis impossible. So does a heavier racquet prevent and/or help with tennis elbow?
A tennis racquet’s weight has two categories; static and swing. While both weights should be as heavy as possible, this is relative to your preference. Meaning they should be heavy enough for adequate shock absorption but not too heavy to be uncomfortable.
To understand why heavier weight and shock absorption are essential in mitigating the risks and damage of tennis elbow, we first need to explore what causes tennis elbow before we do a deep dive into correct racquet selection. Let’s explore these factors in greater detail below:
What Causes Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is when the muscles and tendons around the outside of the elbow are injured. The pain from a tennis elbow usually flares up when the inflicted arm is gripping an object, causing pain to the elbow, forearm, and wrist.
Tennis elbow results from repetitive motions that cause muscle strain and overuse, which leads to injury. Although anyone can be inflicted with a tennis elbow, it typically affects people who participate in racquet sports while employing poor swing techniques.
Because swing technique changes depending on the type of equipment used by a tennis player, it is crucial to select the correct racquet to reduce your risk of getting a tennis elbow.
What Tennis Racquet Should You Use With Tennis Elbow?
When using a tennis racquet, it is essential to find a racquet that compliments your physical strength, swing technique, and play style. Seven racquet parameters need to be understood before purchasing and using a racquet:
- Static weight,
- Swing weight,
- Head size,
- Flex, and
- String pattern.
1. Static Weight
Static weight is the actual weight of a tennis racquet and its frame at rest. The heavier a racket, the better its shock absorption, meaning that it reduces the risk of tennis elbow due to harsh vibrations that can damage the muscles and ligaments.
When choosing a racquet, you should choose a heavy enough racquet to mitigate shock while not being too heavy to be unwieldy and uncomfortable.
2. Swing Weight
Although a bit of a difficult concept to grasp, swing weight is inertia, namely the weight of a racket and how it moves through the air when in motion. Generally speaking, the higher the static weight of a racquet, the more the balance shifts toward the head, increasing the swing weight.
A higher swing weight improves shock absorption while impacting the usability and balance of a racquet. Consequently, you should choose a racquet with a high swing weight, but not so high as to negatively affect one’s form and swing technique.
Speaking of balance, the shifting weight of a racket throughout its frame can impact the usability and shock value across the entirety of a racquet.
Increased weight to the handle allows for improved maneuverability and control at the expense of a heavier head and shock absorption. In contrast, a heavier head allows for improved shock absorption at the cost of a lighter handle and decreased control/poor swing technique.
Therefore, you should choose a racquet with an equal balance of weight across its frame and handle.
4. Head Size
A larger head size improves the surface area of the string, allowing the string to flex and stretch more, which decreases the sting’s stiffness and reduces shock at the point of impact.
Therefore you should use a racket with a larger head size while not being unwieldy or adding unnecessary weight to the racquet’s frame.
A longer racquet will feel harsher on the arm as the point of contact is farther away from the arm. The reason is that impact at a farther point from the arm increases the amount of torque and stress on the arm.
Consequently, longer racquets should be avoided in favor of shorter racquets, especially since longer racquets increase the likelihood of off-center shots, which cause even further strain on the arm.
Flex and/or stiffness of a racket result in separate forces at the point of impact. Generally speaking, stiffer frames increase the shock at the point of impact, while flexible frames increase vibrational damage.
Although flexibility is favored over stiffness, this should not be an objective metric to maximize due to flexibility causing vibrational damage. Consequently, you should aim for a racquet between a 50 and 65 flex rating.
7. String Pattern
Open string patterns result in a softer feel and improved shock resistance when compared to denser string patterns. However, open string patterns result in limited directional control at the point of impact.
Therefore, you should have a string pattern that averages between open and dense patterns. It is also advisable that string patterns are strung using soft GUT strings.
What Are The Best Racquet Brands For Tennis Elbow?
Three of the best tennis racquets on the market for tennis elbow are:
1. YONEX EZone 100
Flex rating: 59
Unique feature: Quake Shut Gel which filters out any unwanted hand and wrist vibrations.
Amazon rating: 4.5/5 stars
2. Wilson Blade 98 V7
Flex rating: 63
Unique feature: amplified handle to reduce vibrations at the wrist.
Amazon rating: 5/5 stars.
3. Prince Textreme Tour 100L
Flex rating: 59
Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
In conclusion, using a heavier frame improves the shock absorption of a tennis racket, reducing the risk of tennis elbow or further damage. The static and swing weights of a racquet are only two factors to consider when using a racquet to avoid tennis elbow.