Arm-friendly strings are for everyone

August 19, 2014

Ashaway, RI — It used to be that the dreaded ‘tennis elbow’ was a malady suffered by veteran players, seniors, or tennis fanatics who simply could not get enough. Now, with high-tech polyester strings and “spin” being all the rage, stress related wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries are being suffered by an increasing number of players across the board, including juniors.

“It’s a story we’re hearing more and more these days,” said Steve Crandall, Vice President of Ashaway Racket Strings in a recent article on “A young, high-performance player training for an important tournament has to cut way back on their playing time — or drop out completely — because of chronic elbow pain. Fortunately,” Crandall added, “many of these stories have happy endings when these players switch to softer playing, more ‘arm friendly’ strings.

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is not exclusive to tennis players, but according to some estimates, upwards of 50% of active players will suffer from it at some point in their careers. Characterized by pain, soreness, and/or weakness in the outside of the upper arm near the elbow, tennis elbow afflicts both men and women players, and until recently was considered to be two to four times more prevalent in players over 40.

Now Crandall says he is seeing a startling increase in tennis elbow, as well as wrist and shoulder issues, among competitive junior players. He blames it on so-called ‘high-tech’ polyester and co-polyester strings. “We don’t have any statistics on this,” Crandall admitted, “but as a string manufacturer we hear this complaint from customers all the time, and in the last few years, more and more from junior players who are trying to generate more spin by using poly and co-poly strings.”

We and many leading stringers recommend switching to a softer, more arm friendly string to alleviate or reduce the risk of tennis elbow. Natural gut has always been the benchmark for soft playing strings, but some of the newer high-tech materials like Zyex® are also known to lessen impact shock. “In fact,” said Crandall, “Tennis Warehouse University rates Ashaway MonoGut® ZX the highest for arm friendliness of any synthetic material.”

Zyex-based strings like Ashaway’s MonoGut ZX line offer several advantages over polyesters, said Crandall. “First, Zyex is a soft, arm friendly string material. Second, it has excellent dynamic stiffness, which, in addition to softness, generates tremendous power. We call it ‘Soft Power.’ Third, Zyex in monofilament form, like our MonoGut ZX, offers spin potential which is right up there with polyesters. And finally, Zyex-based strings have natural tension holding characteristics that keep them fresh in your racquet far longer than other materials.”

Finally, Crandall reports that many players afflicted with tennis elbow — senior as well as junior — have found relief by switching to softer, more arm friendly strings. “Our MonoGut ZX is certainly not a cure for tennis elbow. Only rest and restorative therapy can do that. But it certainly can help prevent the malady, and may also improve your game.”

Ashaway Racket Strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racquet strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway has been the Official String of USA Racquetball for more than ten years, and has recently been named the Official String of Professional Tennis Registry and the Women’s Squash Association. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications. For more information visit Zyex is a registered trademark of Zyex Ltd.