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Whether you’re playing tennis daily or only a couple times a month, you must have experienced Tennis Elbow at some point during your career.
Personally, I’ve experienced this condition multiple times and it’s always caused me to take a break from playing tennis. At times, I would even switch racquets to a more tennis friendly tennis racquet.
After constantly trying to alternate between taking a break from tennis, using an elbow brace, and switching to more arm friendly racquets, I started looking for a more long-term solution.
One of the physical therapists I visited a couple of months ago walked me through the process of tennis elbow treatment. It was during this time that I personally discovered one of the best solutions for painful tennis elbow -the Theraband Flexbar. Mind you, prior to this recommendation, I was bouncing my head all over Reddit, YouTube Videos and various forums to get a solution to this problem.
What is the Theraband Flexbar?
What made the TheraBand FlexBar so effective for me personally was the simple science behind it. This handy flexible rubber bar helps to perform twisting exercises which would trigger the root cause of the pain and would work towards strengthening them.
The twisting exercise that my therapist advised is called “Tyler Twist”, an exercise named after a well-known Physical Therapist Timothy Tyler, who co-authored a clinical research study which showed how effective and cost-effective it was to treat tennis elbow with the help of this simple rubber bar.
The Theraband Flexbar
A TheraBand FlexBar is rigid rubber cylindrical bar which weighs just 450 grams and is 12” long. Though the length is constant, the weight differs as the flexbar is available in four progressive resistance levels to best match the elbow condition. These four variations can be differentiated with the help of the colors: Yellow, Red, Green, and Blue.
These colors are in order from least to most rigid i.e. the amount of force required to bend the bar into U-Shape.
- The Yellow bar requires 6 lbs. of force
- The red bar requires 10 lbs. of force
- The green bar requires 15 lbs. of force
- The blue bar requires 25 lbs. of force
Based upon your elbow condition and the force you can apply, it’s advisable to seek physical therapists’ advice. Among these four options, the red bar is usually the most recommended one.
However, all the four variations can be effectively used to improve grip strength and stabilization by twisting, bending or oscillation movement.
Does the Theraband Flexbar Actually Work?
Overusing the elbows without preventive exercise will never work in your favor. Most of the racket players are negligent towards the aspect of warming up. In such case, if you happen to carry the same approach like mine, I’d say the Flexbar can work in your favor.
Not only will it help to get your elbows ready but instead improve overall forearm strength which is way better than patching up the pain.
Personally, the TheraBand FlexBar served as a wakeup call to prevent pain in the long run.
History behind the Theraband Flexbar
Tyler in his studies had found out that though eccentric exercises did provide considerable relief to the patients, these had to be performed on expensive machines under medical supervision. Tyler shared, “We looked at those results and thought, there has to be an easier, more cost-effective way.”
This is where the idea of the rubber bar technique came from. He along with his colleagues figured out a way where a tensile bar which looks like an oversized licorice stick can be used instead of that heavy equipment and still provide the same eccentric contraction required for the forearm.
Research behind the Theraband Flexbar
Timothy Tyler and his colleagues’ research work at the Nicholas Institute came up with some staggering results. The study suggested that patient who this simple rubber bar saw an 81% improvement in their elbow pain whereas 72% suggested that their strength had improved using this technique. A similar success story of this rubber bar was documented when ‘’Tyler Twist” was applied to golfer’s elbow – medial epicondylitis.
Theraband Flexbar Exercises
Though the TheraBand FlexBar exercises can initially come off as tricky, it’s fairly simple when you get the hang of it. Let’s start with usage. Assuming that you have a painful right elbow. You’re going to follow the steps below:
- Hold the Flexbar in your effective hand, make sure you’re holding the lower part of the bar
- Use your other hand to grab the upper end of the bar
- While maintaining your grip, bring the bar down your waist level
- Release the twist in your effective hand for over 4 seconds
- Crank down on it once again i.e. similar to throttle movement on a motorcycle
- Release and repeat
If you do it effectively, you’re going to feel that you’re working the outside of the elbow i.e. the Lateral Epicondylitis, the muscle that causes tennis elbow.
If you prefer a video version instead, see here:
How many sets should you do per day?
As described by Daniel Bockmann, the protocol is to do 3 sets of 15 every day for a period of 6 weeks. This period is sufficient to help of witness dramatic result not only with subsiding pain but the overall strengthening of your elbow and forearm.
Tyler in his interview with the New York Times confirmed that “his patients did three sets of fifteen repetitions every day. However, beginners should start with three sets of five repetitions per day and increase as they get used to it.” Another interesting element is that these sets should be done consecutively without much break between them.
At the end of the day, your elbows should feel sore and that’s how you know, it’s affecting your elbows and forearms positively.
Which Theraband Flexbar Should You Buy?
As mentioned earlier, colors in the TheraBand FlexBar are more than just visual appeal. Each color has its own force requirements, so based upon your condition, you should choose the right one.
As per the pain and progression, yellow Flexbar is generally used by patients who experience a high degree of elbow pain or even those who have less arm strength.
I personally brought the red Flexbar since I misjudged the pain intensity.
However, I switched to the green flexbar due to my strong grip and achieved a good level of resistance in the green flexbar as compared to the red one. Thus, it all comes down to your physical conditioning.
Possible Cure for Tennis Elbow?
Firstly, if you’re already using the TheraBand FlexBar and not seeing the results, it can boil down to two things: You’re either not doing the ‘Tyler Twist’ exercise right or your condition is more serious than just Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis. In the latter case, you should immediately visit the doctor and get the condition diagnosed.
Back as with regards to the bar, I have seen huge improvements in my elbow strength by using this product. I’ve been using this product for over 6 weeks and as asserted by Tyler, I have seen my elbow pain reduce and strength improve.
Personally, I feel consistency is the key when exercises and preparing your body was grueling tasks. Even if it’s just a couple of minutes a day, it can go a long way in improving the overall conditioning.
With regards to this, TheraBand FlexBar has really helped as it makes the elbow/forearm conditioning part happening. The drill isn’t too hard, it hardly takes 10 minutes at max and helps my elbow conditioning.
Due to its durability, I often carry it to my office and during the stressful hours, I often find myself conditioning my arms to calm down my mind. It acts as a good break from a frustrating task.
But nobody’s perfect, and due to my careless nature, I often overlooked its usage in the past 6 weeks. It has happened with me a couple of times and I’ll admit I regretted it instantaneously. I’d feel the pain flaring up and thus would resort to the Flexbar as soon as I could.
At such a low price, the Theraband Flexbar just may be the miracle cure to tennis elbow you’ve been looking for.