Tennis elbow is a form of tendinitis affecting primarily wrist extensor muscle origins near the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. It is the most common work-related musculoskeletal disorder, affects 40-50% of tennis players, and is brought on by repeated contraction of the arm muscles. It is managed through structural support, most commonly bracing (B) and taping (T). PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to determine whether B or T would be more effective in supporting the elbow in a repetitive overhand throwing motion in the sagittal plane. METHODS: Eight male and 8 female college students (21.1 ± 0.5 yr.) with no previous upper extremity injuries participated in this study. In an orientation session, average speed over three maximal throws was measured while controlling for accuracy. On another day, subjects participated in a control (C), T, and B trial where they completed overhand throws within 10% of the established maximal throw velocity in each condition. Electromyography was used to measure the recruitment of key muscles during an overhand throw: biceps brachii (BB), lateral head of the triceps (LHT), extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB), and extensor digitorum communis (EDC). Two-dimensional motion analysis was used to assess peak elbow angular velocity and maximum elbow angle. All data analysis was conducted in Excel and SPSS, and used repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and the Least Significant Difference post-hoc tests. RESULTS: In a comparison of T vs. C, muscle activation of the ECRB was higher, and maximum elbow angle and peak angular velocity were lower (Percent diff. from control:109.2%, 6.1%, 19.0%; p=0.021, 0.04, 0.004 respectively). B was significantly greater than C for the ECRB and EDC (102.8%, 48.6% difference p=0.012, p=0.043 respectively). B was significantly higher than T for the LHT (25.0% difference, p=0.016) CONCLUSIONS: T is a more effective means than B of supporting the elbow as it resulted in a larger decrease in elbow angular velocity and maximum angle, both of which are factors related to tennis elbow. However, T may cause compensations in muscle activation at adjacent joints. B may also be a beneficial method of support compared to no intervention based on similar trends in elbow kinematics and muscle activation.

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