Ask Grand Master Lu: Tennis Elbow

Question: I am an avid tennis player. It’s my favorite physical activity, and the tennis courts have become a social meeting place. A few months back, I started to get pain in my elbow. After seeking treatment, I was diagnosed with tennis elbow. I wear a brace, but have stopped playing because the pain is excruciating when my racquet makes contact with the ball. I was recently advised to have surgery. Would you suggest an alternate form of treatment?

Answer: When was the last time you pooped? This is a serious question. We often fall into the trap of looking at the body as a collection of isolated parts. However, what we fail to realize is that the physical pain you’re feeling does not stem from your elbow. It’s a sign of a greater energetic imbalance.

Tennis elbow causes pain in the outer part of the elbow. Not coincidentally, this aligns with a major point on the Large Intestine meridian, hence the link to constipation. As energy, or Qi, travels through meridians, it sometimes gets trapped and cannot push through. You have a hard time swinging your arm freely in the same way that the body has a hard time flowing freely. In the case of your tennis elbow, the physical symptoms are a sign that the Large Intestine needs a boost.

Follow these tips for a few weeks:

  1. Warm up the body. Everything that you eat and drink should be warm. Fill your plate with cooked vegetables and avoid foods with a cold or heavy essence, such as dairy and meat. Add warming herbs such as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, raw honey and organic brown sugar to foods whenever possible.
  2. Apply heat, not ice. A standard treatment for tennis elbow is to ice the area to reduce swelling. Icing feels good temporarily but can cause more significant problems down the road. Instead, apply heat in short intervals to the affected elbow.
  3. Let Go! Take a good look at your life. What emotions and possessions are you holding onto that no longer serve you? Start small by purging outdated clothing. Then begin letting go of the larger things, little by little.
  4. Practice The Dragon’s Punch. One of our movements in the Dragon’s Way Qigong program is the Dragon’s Punch. Start with your feet shoulder width apart, hands clenched in fists at your side. Step forward with your left foot and punch with your right arm. As you extend your arm, slowly turn it so that your fist eye is facing down. Now try this with the right foot and left arm. Do 8 iterations on each side.

After following these tips faithfully for a few weeks, your digestive system should return to its normal functioning. When it does, you’ll see a huge improvement in your tennis elbow.