Background Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylopathy (LE) is experienced as the lateral elbow has a reported prevalence of 1.3%, with symptoms lasting up to 18 months. LE is most commonly attributed to tendinopathy involving the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) tendon. The aim of tendinopathy management is to alleviate symptoms and restore function that initially involves relative rest followed by progressive therapeutic exercise.
Objective To assess the effectiveness of two prototype exercises using commonly available clinical equipment to progressively increase resistance and activity of the ECRB.
Method Eighteen healthy participants undertook two exercise progressions. Surface electromyography was used to record ECRB activity during the two progressions, involving eccentric exercises of the wrist extensors and elbow pronation exercises using a prototype device. The two progressions were assessed for their linearity of progression using repeated ANOVA and linear regression analysis. Five participants repeated the study to assess reliability.
Results The exercise progressions led to an increase in ECRB electromyographic (EMG) activity (p<0.001). A select progression of exercises combining the two protocols increased EMG activity in a linear fashion (p<0.001). The ICC values indicated good reliability (ICC>0.7) between the first and second tests for five participants.
Conclusions Manipulation of resistance and leverage with the prototype exercises was effective in creating significant increases of ECRB normalised EMG activity in a linear manner that may, with future research, become useful to clinicians treating LE. In addition, between trial reliability for the device to generate a consistent load was acceptable.
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