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Resting Between Workouts

PHASE 1: RELIEF AND RECOVERY

On this page, you will learn everything you need to begin your journey to a pain-free elbow.  The focus of this page is to educate you on all the things needed to provide pain relief and initiate recovery. Phase 1 begins now!


Topics Include:

R.I.C.E Method 

Workload Modification Tips  

Mobility Videos

Lifestyle Tips and Other Treatments

Products we found helpful


What is recovery?

Recovery is the process of returning to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. After an injury, it is necessary to return the body and mind back to baseline and get out of pain. In both medial and lateral tendinopathy injuries of the elbow, it is important to respond in a way that gives the proper attention to the injured area, so it does not become a lifelong reoccurrence. Diagnosis may be different, however, the initial steps are the same: alleviate pain and begin to recover. 

What is pain, and how to we achieve relief? 

Pain is a signal or form of communication. It is the process the body uses to inform the brain there is a stimulus the body does not like. Pain tells the body to slow down, stop, or get the hell out. In muscular injuries, the brain initiates a pain feedback loop to make the body more aware of the movements that can cause further injury. Part of the recovery phase is identifying and reducing the movements that cause pain and improving the body’s ability to heal after physical trauma. In most cases, this occurs through the R.I.C.E method: Rest and Reset, Ice, Compression, and Exercise. 


Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About

RICE METHOD

R: Rest and Reset 

I: Ice 

C: Compression

E: Exercise 

Why do we R.I.C.E.? 

Remember a tendinopathy injury is a strain on the muscular tendon of a joint that has created pain and inflammation. That is why we at Elbow Athlete believe the first step to recovery and rehabilitation is to R.I.C.E!! The reason we believe this is the first step is because the initial goal of any injury is to get out of pain. As we continue to explore and navigate what that irritation is, it is vital to reduce stimulation and activities that have put us in pain. 

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R = REST & RESET

Rest and Reset is the MOST important part of R.I.C.E!! We know resting is often frustrating for active people but no matter if the pain is acute, less than 7 days, or chronic, more than 30 days, it is important for the body to catch up and begin to heal itself, this is also known as the RESET phase. Pain is feedback from the body to the brain, telling you to slow down. It’s time to listen. In a tendinopathy injury, it means the tendon can no longer handle the forces placed on that part of the body. Many times, it is the intensity of activity, abundant repetitions or the progression of work that causes the pain. If you continue to do what you have been doing, nothing will change, so it is important to hit the pause button and take the necessary steps to improve your injury. During this process, we will work with you to allow the body to get the recovery it needs and slowly build back into the work!

For acute pain, 2-3 weeks of minimal activity is recommended. This means reducing all activities that involve elbow movement!!!

For more chronic issues, 4-6 weeks of rest is imperative!!! YES! You read that right, 4-6 WEEKS!! That time is needed to allow your tendons a chance to relax first, and then allow you to slowly load and rehab the injury. In the loading phase of Rehab, your body will provide feedback on how much training it can handle. If we do not RESET the elbow with the REST phase then we will get inaccurate feedback which will hinder the rehab phase. THis might be a great time to improve cardio, core strength, or overall posture.

There are a few things that we can do during this phase that will help alleviate pain in your day-to-day activities. One of the things we have found successful is using an elbow brace during activities that you know will cause pain. Braces apply a little bit of pressure and compression to the elbow, which reduces the amount of inflammation that can form in the joint. This should reduce pain during activities and allow you to function as you need to. Click this link to see the brace that we feel are the best on the market.

Another holistic option to reduce pain is using topical pain-relieving creams. After much trial and error, we have found that Theraworks and hemp cream with arnica are the best in the business. Creams have a temporary relief because they are not able to penetrate deep below the skin to the actual area of injury. However, we feel these two options are the best at penetrating deeper than the skin.

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I = ICE

The 'I' in R.I.C.E stands for Ice. There are a multitude of reasons icing, also known as cryotherapy, is part of recovery.  Cryotherapy has been shown to decrease pain because it has a numbing effect on the area which reduces the pain feedback loop to the brain. When ice is applied it also creates vasoconstriction of blood vessels which will slow down the blood flow to the injured area. This leads to a reduction in inflammation and throbbing feeling that is common in elbow injuries. Once the ice is removed, as the tissue heats up the body sends new nutritional blood to the area and removes toxins and waste at the injury site. This is why many believe that Ice or Contrast is imperative to recover.

New research has focused on repetitive cold to hot phases, which is called Contrast, and it has been shown to be more effective in recovery and healing compared to regular icing. We recommend the contrast approach to all individuals dealing with CHRONIC elbow pain. At Elbow Athlete we also encourage our athletes to try this method if your body isn’t responding to just cold therapy or you don’t enjoy the cold as this takes the edge off. 

Cryotherapy Instructions

Best for ACUTE Injuries and Short-Term Pain Relief


Ice for 5-10 minutes 3-4 times a day

**Make sure there is a period of about 45 minutes to 1 hour between icing to allow for tissue in the body to heat back up and improve blood flow.**

** Pro Tip: If using bags of ice, crushed ice works best as you can mold it to the surface area of the elbow better. Also be sure to use an ace wrap of the elbow sleeve to apply a little compression to prevent the bag from moving. **

Products we recommend for icing. (link)

Contrast Therapy (Ice/Heat combo):

Contrast therapy is best for CHRONIC issues or Active Recovery.

Equipment:

Ice: Ice pack, Ice cups, Cryotherapy ball, Ice baths

Heat: Hot pack, Moist Towel, Sauna

Example contrast therapy daily routine: 

1. Spend 5-8 minutes on ICE

2. Transition to 5-8 minutes of heat 

3. Repeat 3-5 times. 


**Perform 1-2 times a day, for best results perform after workouts or end of day routine.**

**Pro Tip:  When first beginning contrast method, it may be helpful to only perform 2-3 times as you can determine how your body reacts to the cold and hot transition.**

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C = COMPRESSION

Compression has a similar function to ice. The goal of compression is to initially reduce swelling and thus reduce the pain felt in the elbow due to the excessive buildup of fluid. Compression provides a vasoconstriction of the blood flow to the injured area site, this will restrict the amount of fluid traveling to the injury which helps reduce the swelling, or edema.  The result of these effects is a reduction in pain when performing daily activities and reduces motion loss that may occur with excessive swelling like with bursitis. 

Click here for the best products that assist with compression and pain relief.

For best results, compression garments should be used throughout the day and to cover ice packs while in use. If pulsing, numbness, tingling, or increase in pain occurs in the arm or hand remove the compression and try using a larger size or revert to just using ice until there is a reduction in swelling. 

**Pro Tip: DO NOT sleep in a compression sleeve or garment. The risk of long-term injuries like cutting off circulation, nerve damage, blood clots, etc. can be increased if you sleep in a compression sleeve. It also will decrease the healing response as the blood needs to continue to send blood, oxygen, and nutrients to areas for them to recover.** 

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E = EXERCISE

Here at Elbow Athlete, we continue to adapt to the progression of recovery and performance, which is why we have modified the R.I.C.E method. The old school of thought was that E stood for Elevation; however, we believe that is a thing of the past. Our new progressive approach defines E as Exercise. 

The reason for this new approach is recent research has shown stagnation and immobility of injuries leads to longer recovery times. Implementing light movement and exercise creates blood flow and reduces the atrophy (muscle loss) in the muscular tissue that can develop from immobilization. The elbow has a reduced amount of blood flow in comparison to other areas of the body so movement is even more imperative. The importance of exercise applies to the holistic wellness that we believe at Elbow Athlete. Although the elbow may be injured there are other areas of the body that we can continue to enhance to improve our overall health. Studies have shown the importance of exercise in stimulating creativity, healing, and emotional well-being. Anyone that has been injured knows how frustrating it can be to not workout to the same capacity you are accustomed to. That is why we encourage activity and exercise, but we recommend some areas that are often neglected.  A few areas we recommend working on are the cardiovascular system, abdominal stability, and hamstring/glute strength exercises. This will continue to allow you to get the physical activity you need as well as improve your mental health during an injury. 

Injuries change our daily routines, and it is important during this phase of Exercise that we make the appropriate modifications to aid in the progression of our recovery. Below is a list of some modifications you can make in your day-to-day approach to limit the amount of load on your elbow, why being able to maintain exercise is a part of your life.

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WORKLOAD MODIFICATION TIPS

Phase 1: Relief & Recover: Welcome


Changing our workout habits and daily routine can be the most challenging aspect of the relief and recovery process. Feel free to message us anytime for personalized tips on how to adjust your exercise routine. 

Pro Tips:

1. Take some time to write down your daily activities that require elbow, wrist, and grip action. Try to reduce the number of repetitions and activities that require the elbow joint by 50% initially, then slowly increase if pain-free.

2. Reduce the amount of load or weight with upper body exercises, by 50% and then increase if no pain is felt.

3. Use the other hand to perform some work tasks to reduce stress on injured elbow.


4. Invest in tools to make your job more efficient and effective.

5. Improve desk setup: 

    o Desk and chair height: 90 degree resting position of elbows.

    o Start Using a vertical mouse, releasing tension in tendons.

    o Place a wrist pad underneath your wrist, relieves tension and pain 


6. Improve your posture and stabilizing muscles in your shoulder and neck. Begin stretches and learn to mobilize your muscles 

Phase 2: Mobilize and Stabilize 

7. Go on more walks outside. Research has shown taking a 5-10 min walk every 90 minutes will improve clarity of mind, reduce stress, and increase energy throughout the day.

Click here for products we recommend for elbow pain while you are at work.

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LIFESTYLE TIPS AND OTHER TREATMENTS TO CONSIDER

Phase 1: Relief & Recover: Welcome

Lifestyle Tips:

Our focus at Elbow Athlete is to not only treat the immediate, localized pain, but to look at the entire body. This holistic approach looks at the body as one unit, which is why we will soon provide information and feedback on these relevant topics as well. Stay tuned and give us feedback on any other topics that you may want some advice on. 


In the meantime, here are a few quick recommendations that seem like common-sense, but sadly are rarely followed:

· Sleep: 8 hours a night, promotes mental and physical health 

· Hydration: 1 gallon of water a day, improves tissue health and blood pressure

· Nutrition: Eat more greens and eat less sugar

· Supplements: Daily Vitamin pack, be consistent, and contact us if you want more

· Quiet Time: 5-10 minutes have been found to decrease cortisol and overall stress.

Manual Therapy Treatments

Manual therapy has been used for centuries by healthcare professionals to alleviate pain and manipulate the tissue. These methods improve mobility and decrease pain. Research has shown the combination of manual therapy and exercise will improve healing and increase return to activity quicker than exercise alone. At Elbow Athlete, we will teach you some self-mobilization and manual techniques in Phase 2: Mobilize and Stabilize.

Some of the techniques that can be performed for pain relief and recovery include:

- Massage Therapy 

- Cupping 

- Graston 

- Acupuncture 

- Dry Needling 

- Rolfing 

These techniques will be addressed in detail soon, but if you have any immediate questions contact us and we can provide you with personalized feedback. 

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RELIEF & RECOVERY EQUIPMENT

We used the items below almost every day during our relief and recovery period. Give them a try and let us know if they give you the same relief.

Product Categories are organized based on RICE treatment protocol:

- Rest and Reset Products

- Ice and Contrast Therapy Products

- Compression Products

- Exercise Products

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REST & RESET PRODUCTS

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PAIN RELIEVING CREAMS

Topical creams are a superficial pain-relieving ointment for the elbow. They are more holistic than taking medications as they include more natural ingredients. These are the ones that we have found to penetrate the skin the best and provide the most relief.

Blue Emu for most versatile cream: Click HERE

Theraworks for arthritis & bursitis: Click HERE

Theraworks for tendinopathy: Click HERE

FOREARM BRACES

Braces are best used for short term pain relief especially if you are unable to stop your daily activities. They offer support to the body but should only be used as a temporary fix. Think of them as duct tape covering a hole on a boat. It will temporarily stop a leak but will not keep the boat from sinking in the long run. It is more important to find the leak and fix the problem.

   

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WRIST BRACE

Great for side-sleepers!

Why do I need a wrist brace if my elbow hurts? Surprisingly, this inexpensive wrist brace made a huge difference in our tendonitis recovery. As a side-sleeper, I tuck my hand under my head and pillow at night, which ended up putting a lot of strain on my wrist and forearms at night. 

I'd also wear this throughout the day to avoid unnecessarily grabbing items and fatiguing my forearms. Although this isn't something you necessarily want to wear to the office all day, we definitely recommend wearing it while sleeping and around the house as much as possible.

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CRYOSLEEVE COLD COMPRESS

For daily use

We use this almost every day. This is not your typical ice pack. At over $100, it's a big investment. After trying multiple different ice packs, we've found that this one is well worth the money. Most ice packs fall off your arm and make multitasking extremely difficult. Also, it's tough to find an ice pack that gets full contact and coverage of your entire forearm and elbow pain areas. This cryosleeve is easy to grab out of the freezer, strap on your arm, and continue with your daily schedule without constantly falling off.

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Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About

LACROSSE BALL FOR TRIGGER POINTS

Inexpensive and straightforward tool for releasing knots in biceps and upper back

We used these for our bicep mobility routine in the Youtube tutorial above and for knots in our upper back.

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Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About
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ELBOW STRAP

For daily use with tennis elbow

This little gem is helpful to alleviate pain for tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). It puts pressure on the muscles in a manner that relieves pressure on your inflamed/damaged tendons. Just make sure you continue to REST while wearing it. This tool can mask the pain and make you feel like you're healed, when in fact you need WEEKS or MONTHS to heal properly. 


It's not ideal for golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis), since the medial muscles and tendons are difficult to isolate and put pressure on with this strap. That being said, we have had a few members of the ElbowAthlete feel some golfer's elbow pain relief with this product. 

Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About

ELBOW SLEEVE COMPRESSION

For daily use with golfer's elbow or tennis elbow

Multiple members of the ElbowAthlete team feel incredible pain and inflammation relief with this item and wear them all day every day during the recovery process. Just make sure you are RESTING your elbow properly while using this sleeve. The compression of the sleeve can mask the pain and make you feel like you're ready to continue exercising or using your grip strength as usual. Don't be fooled, you aren't magically healed when you wear these tools, you still need weeks of rest and healing at first.

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Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About
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VERTICAL MOUSE

Huge difference in computer activity pain

This really helped minimize our elbow and forearm aggravation while working on the computer. Can't say enough about this thing! It was a gamechanger for us...especially the PC gamers in the group ;)

Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About
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Mini size Hypervolt for easy to pack and travel use

HYPERVOLT GO

The no excuses tools for any busy person. This lightweight and easy to travel massage gun means it is always ready to go.

Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About

HYPERVOLT MASSAGE GUN

The Ferrari of massage guns

The top of the line massage gun with 6 hours of battery life. It has multiple speeds and attachments to hit any area of soreness on the body

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Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About
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The best systemic recovery for sore muscles and reducing stress

INFRARED SAUNA

Total body recovery in the comfort of your home. Used with a cold plunge for best results. Heats up quick and provides long lasting relief.

Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About

CRYOTHERAPY COLD PLUNGE

The best at home care unit for a full body recovery

This easy to use cryotherapy recovery unit allows for you to get the best results. This is a portable unit that just needs a little ice

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Phase 1: Relief & Recover: About
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