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Arm Friendly Tennis Strings Are Not Just for Seniors Anymore

MonoGut ZX Reels
Ashaway Racket Strings offers two versions of its popular Zyex-based MonoGut tennis strings: 16 gauge (1.27 mm) MonoGut ZX, and 17 gauge (1.22 mm) MonoGut ZX Pro. MonoGut ZX Pro is a thinner lighter string, designed to provide even better elongation, snap-back and playability for players who do not require the added durability of a 16 gauge string. Both strings offer 100% Zyex monofilament construction, which provides exceptional dynamic stiffness and gut-like playability.
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."

Tennis elbow results when repetitive twisting, stress or shock to the wrist causes small tears to develop in the forearm tendon that attaches to the elbow, said Crandall. Many factors increase the risk of injury, including age, poor technique, and frequency of play. Often, a strong backhand can be the worst culprit.

"Impact shock exacerbates all of these factors," said Crandall, "and because of their inherent stiffness, polyester strings are known to increase impact shock."

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 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."

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