How to Treat Sore Arm Muscles From Tennis

If you're playing tennis at a higher intensity and duration than normal, you may experience delayed onset muscle soreness which causes muscle stiffness and soreness 24 to 48 hours after vigorous physical exertion. Your arm muscles can also be sore from overuse during tennis or an injury. If you don't feel improvement with at-home treatments within 72 hours, consult with your doctor to determine the best course for treatment.

Repetitive arm movements in tennis can cause muscle soreness. (Image: Mermusta/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve painful muscles from tennis. If pain is significant, your doctor may be able to prescribe a stronger muscle relaxer.

Step 2

Rest your muscles. Wait at least a week for your symptoms to disappear before resuming tennis. Allow at least eight hours of sleep per night so your muscles have time to recover after playing tennis.

Step 3

Ice the muscles during the first 72 hours. Apply a heating pad after 72 hours.

Step 4

Massage the muscles to improve circulation of bodily fluids and decrease inflammation of your muscles. You can do massages yourself or make an appointment with a licensed massage therapist.

Step 5

Stretch your arm using a wall to relieve stiffness associated with delayed onset muscle soreness. Stand facing a wall and extend your arm so it's at a 90-degree angle to your body. Extend your fingers and place your hand on the wall. Stay close to the wall and without moving your arm, rotate your body away from the wall. Twist until you feel tension and hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.

Step 6

Stretch your arms behind your back. Stand straight and allow your arms to dangle to your sides. Lace your fingers behind you with your palms facing upward. Your hands should be slightly below your buttocks. Keeping your arms extended and your fingers laced, move your arms away from your buttocks until you feel tension. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite arm.

Step 7

Lie in a sauna to raise your body temperature in order to relieve muscle pain. Saunas will also make you sweat which releases toxins from your body and speeds up recovery after playing tennis. Sitting in a sauna can also reduce stress, which will relieve muscle tension.

Step 8

Perform non-weight bearing aerobic activities to improve blood flow and warm your muscles. Swimming and cycling are examples of non-weight bearing aerobic activity.

Things You'll Need

  • Acetaminophen (or ibuprofen)

  • Ice

  • Heating pad

  • Sauna

Tip

Warm up for 10 minutes before playing tennis. After tennis, cool down for 10 minutes and then stretch your major muscle groups while paying special attention to your arms. This will prevent injuries and reduce your risk of delayed onset muscle soreness in the future.

Warning

If you feel a sharp pain while playing tennis that continues to hurt, this usually indicates an injury. Rest, ice, compress and elevate an arm injury from playing tennis. Consult with a doctor before stretching or using the muscle.
Saunas are not recommended for individuals with heart conditions. Ibuprofen has a risk of stomach irritation and can cause bleeding in the stomach.
Saunas increase your risk of dehydration, so drink plenty of water before and after leaving the sauna.

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