You Don't Need to Play Tennis to Get This

My dad had tennis elbow when I was a kid. I always thought it sounded funny, like it was a deformity. Was his arm turning into a tennis racquet? Did his elbow swell out like a racquet head? Now, after a year or so of playing a few times a week, when I now touch my right arm in one particular elbowy spot, I feel a searing pain. You might say, “Then don’t touch that spot!” But it’s turning into a dull ache all the time, especially when I’m on the court, or even on the computer, and opening a jar with my right hand is becoming increasingly more difficult. It’s also affecting my serve and my backhand volleys. Non-tennis players might say, “So what?” But if you don’t have much of a serve or a backhand, you don’t have much of a game—kind of like in life!

I read that as many as 50 percent of tennis players are afflicted by tennis elbow at some point in their careers. A new racquet or new strings can sometimes make it worse—so I tried changing to a Gamma string that’s gentler on the arm (okay, maybe I don’t need to use the same strings as Rafael Nadal). I’ve been suffering through Salabhasana, Locust pose, in Bikram Yoga, which is reportedly really good for tennis elbow and frozen shoulder. But any physical therapist will simply say, “Stop playing tennis!” I need to decrease stress on my elbow in order for it to start to heal.

So, after today, I plan to take a month off and to treat my arm with acupuncture and deep tissue massage. I found a guy who specializes in this, and he told me he’s healed probably 1000 elbows in his practice. Not bad. I looked up elbow issues in Louise Hay’s book Heal Your Body A-Z, to see what my body is trying to tell me. Stop being a wimp? I’m getting old? Actually, it says elbow issues represent the need to change directions and accept new experiences. As in, I shouldn’t be playing tennis anymore?! My mantra, according to Hay, should be, “I easily flow with change. My life is divinely guided, and I am always going in the best direction.”

I can buy that. Life does change every minute, and I often feel myself being carried down the river in a boat I’m not sure I remember launching. But it’s all good. I like the flow. And my elbow’s pointing in the right direction.

P.S. This picture is of May Sutton, the first American to win Wimbledon, which she won in 1905. May shocked the audience by wearing a skirt that showed her ankles and by rolling up her sleeves. She was the first woman to compete showing her elbows!