elbow exam 

What Is The Best Sleep Position For Tennis Elbow And 3 Positions To Avoid

Do you have elbow pain which is interrupting your sleep? Does your sleep position have any impact on your elbow pain? Is your elbow keeping you up at night?

Bill is not actually a professional tennis player but instead is an electrician who spend his days inspecting, installing and repairing a variety of electrical fixtures. Over the past few months, Bill began noticing pain on the outside of his right elbow towards the end of his shift and at night.

Bill finally decided to get some help and saw his physiotherapist. He was diagnosed with having right tennis elbow which was treated by his physiotherapist using manual therapy, modalities and taping. He was also taught rehabilitative exercises and given ergonomic advice. After 7 sessions, Bill was able to go to work and finish his shift with very little to no more elbow pain.

It can be tough to change your usual sleep position but this blog article will give you an idea of what tennis elbow is, recommendations for the best sleep positions, 3 positions to avoid and how physiotherapy can help you.

IMS treatment for tennis elbow

What Exactly Is Tennis Elbow?

You do not have to play tennis to get tennis elbow. Tennis elbow, or “lateral epicondylitis”, is a common overuse injury of the tendons at your elbow. It is often caused by more than just your tennis back swing.

Certainly tennis can be one common cause. For example, as you take your back swing, when the ball hits your racket the extra strain on your outside forearm muscles and tendons can over time lead to micro-trauma and eventually pain, inflammation and tendonitis.

Other frequent causes for tennis elbow include repetitive use injuries commonly seen in patients who use their hands and arms for work throughout your day.

physiotherapy exercise bands

How Does The Position You Sleep In Affect Your Tennis Elbow?

While you are sleeping, your blood will circulate and bring important healing properties and nutrients that help in the repair and recovery of your injured tissues. Sleep is when your body takes advantage of your down time to relax your elbow and allow the natural healing processes to happen.

Specific sleep position can help enhance blood flow and improve your healing.

Making The Best Of Your Sleeping Position

Are you a side sleeper?

Avoid sleeping on your injured elbow side. You can use a pillow to support your painful elbow by having the pillow between your body and elbow.

Do you sleep on your back?

Keep your injured elbow and arm resting and down by your side. Having a slight bend in your elbow is alright. You can try resting your elbow on top of a pillow or your body for more support.

Try To Not Sleep In These 3 Sleep Positions

  1. Sleeping on your injured elbow and arm: As obvious as it may seem, but the pressure of laying on your injured elbow and arm can squeeze your already irritated tendons at your elbow and increase your discomfort. This position can also decrease blood flow to the area which can slow your recovery
  2. Sleeping with your elbow and arm above your head: Sleeping with your injured elbow and arm above your head can increase your chance or worsening your pain in your elbow. Instead, try resting your arm by your side or on your body which can helps reduce the risk of worsening your elbow injury
  3. Sleeping on your stomach: When you sleep on your stomach, you usually end up with your head turned to one side and slightly extended or bent back. This can over time cause compression and irritation in your neck and upper back and eventually work it’s way down to affect your elbow

Tennis elbow is a very common reason for elbow pain. It results from overusing the tendons involved in the movement and use your elbow, wrist, forearm and hand. Changing your sleep position is just one of the many ways you can improve and speed up your tennis elbow pain recovery.

I Need Help For My Tennis Elbow

If you need help with your tennis elbow pain, schedule a session with your physiotherapist:

Schedule A Physio Visit

Phone 604-738-1168


Q: What is the treatment for tennis elbow?

A: Rest, using an elbow strap, physiotherapy, exercise and medications are commonly used treatments for tennis elbow

Q: Will my tennis elbow get better by itself?

A: Sometimes tennis elbow can improve by itself with rest and support. If you find your elbow pain not getting better or even getting worse, talk to your physiotherapist.

Q: How long does tennis elbow last?

A: Tennis elbow usually takes about 6-8 weeks with physiotherapy. This timeline can change depending on other factors such as what you do on a regular daily basis or what you do for work. Your physiotherapist can help you learn to manage your symptoms and modify your daily routines to help you recover faster.