I really hate tennis players. Ok that was a bit strong. I really don’t hate them per say, even if they can’t seem to stop playing with their green fuzzy balls deep within their pockets, and constantly emote explosive, guttural grunts, I just hate their infamous malady, lateral epicondylitis, better known as tennis elbow.
See it’s bad enough that lateral epicondylitis hurts like hell due to the inflammation of the tendons connecting the muscles of the forearm to the lateral epicondyle (a bony prominence at the outside of your elbow), but to give tennis players all the credit for this malady is just wrong in my book, especially since lateral epicondylitis can develop in anyone that overuses the extensor muscles on the outside of the forearm, not just wimpy tennis players.
It’s extremely common in other sports like cycling, baseball, swimming, archery and shooting, as well as everyday activity such as gardening, and construction. So why give those guttural grunting, green balled tennis players all the credit? Sure a whopping 5% of racquet sport players develop lateral epicondylitis, but again why give credit to the tennis players. What about the squash and racquetball players, or even badminton players?
Now if memory serves, lateral epicondylitis has a couple other common, ok not that common, names including shooter’s elbow and archer’s elbow, so at least some credit is being given to those sports, but why not acknowledge other sports too and create names like cyclist’s elbow or swimmer’s elbow. Or better yet give it a trendy sexy name like “epilats”, or “condylats”, or even better, a mnemonic name like OMEH (ouch my elbow hurts), MEIS (my elbow is sore), INFTPESH (I’m not a frikkin’ tennis player but my elbow still hurts).
So as you have probably deduced from my rant, I developed “cyclist elbow” last week after my ride. I woke up the following morning with an extremely stiff, painful elbow and forearm and limited mobility. The symptoms allowed for a very easy diagnosis, but the big question I had was how the heck did I just get this, especially after having ridden nearly 2k miles on my previous bike and nearly 600 miles on this new one. You’d think that ‘cyclists elbow” would have reared it’s ugly epicondyle earlier, but there was a very good reason why it set in so acutely after about 60 miles of riding.
As it turns out, when I took my bike in to correct a crank issue, the tech there was perplexed as to why my seat looked so low. Further inspection showed that the seat had dropped down from it’s original position due to the seat bolt being a bit loose. So he made an eyeball adjustment by having me sit on the bike, and tightened it up.
Taking this adjustment in stride, I quickly racked up 60 miles which resulted in “cyclist’s elbow”. How you ask? The eyeballing of the seat height left the seating position a fraction of an inch too high, shifting my balance forward a bit, and placing more weight onto my hands on the bars. That added weight caused me to grip the bar harder resulting in overuse of my forearm muscles throughout the duration of the prolonged rides…the classic ingredients of lateral epicondylitis.
This just hammers home the importance of a proper bike fit. A fraction of an inch can lead to all sorts of discomfort and long term problems. So the moral of the story here kiddies is to have your bike adjusted and fitted regularly. It will definitely prevent you from developing wimpy tennis player maladies 😉
So after a week off resting my elbow and doing some forearm stretches, I decided to test out the sore elbow and forearm on a ride. Needless to say I had the bike refitted before hopping on. I experienced no real discomfort during today’s 36 miles of open road riding. Sure the occasional unexpected bump hurt a bit, but I made a very conscious effort to ease my grip on the bar and use my core to support my upper body instead of my hands. All in all the ride felt great. My arm feels no worse from the ride, but still is a little sore from the original onset of the “cyclists elbow”. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.
Here are today’s numbers.
Route: Tree Line
Started: Mar 15, 2011 9:21:50 AM
Ride Time: 2:15:28
Stopped Time: 38:53
Distance: 36.77 miles
Average Speed: 16.29 miles/h
Fastest Speed: 23.11 miles/h
Ascent: 282 feet
Descent: 305 feet