Coping With Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is pain caused by inflammation where the tendons in the forearm muscles attach to the bones in the elbow.
Our body instinctively knows how to deal with injuries, and acute inflammation is all part of the healing process. This can involve things like pain, swelling, warmth and redness, and they are all a natural part of the acute inflammation response.
The issue comes when this goes from being a fast and direct process to a chronic or systematic response, which can become more challenging to manage.
What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?
The pain from golfer’s elbow usually occurs when golfers aren’t applying equal arm strength to each side of the club. It can also be due to grip tension, limited flexibility in forearm muscles, strength imbalance in the arm, or overuse.
Professional golfers create power for their swing by rotating their non-dominant arm, sometimes too much, which can cause pain in the elbow. Non-professionals overcompensate by exerting too much strength from their dominant arm, causing inflammation.
Directly after the pain occurs, put ice on the elbow and try massage therapy to relieve soreness. Stretch the muscle groups involved by pulling back on the elbows and fingers.
If you’re suffering from acute medial epicondylitis then it’s recommended to ice the area multiple times per day for around 5-10 minutes at a time, leaving around an hour between icings.
Massage therapy can sometimes help, as can working on mobility in the shoulder. If you’re suffering from acute pain it’s best to avoid workouts that are heavily reliant on grip strength, such as pull-ups, deadlifts, farmer’s carries, etc. as they can further aggravate the condition. Wait until you’re in less discomfort before resuming your workouts.
The most important thing to prevent golfer’s elbow from happening again is to build symmetry in your swing. Regular lessons with a professional can help to build a more even, efficient swing so it can be worth investing in a few sessions with an expert.
You should stretch before and after playing golf to take the stress off your joints. Hold your arm out, palm up, and grab your fingers with the other hand. Pull your fingers toward the ground. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
You can also turn your hands palms-down and perform the same stretch, pulling your fingers to the ground again, to stretch the other side of your arm.
Work your grip strength by squeezing a ball or putty with the hand.
In a long-term conditioning program, you should be strengthening your forearms, biceps and triceps. Aim to three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions with each arm two or three times a week.
Dumbbell Wrist Curls
- Sit on a flat bench and grasp a dumbbell in your right hand with an underhand grip
- Rest your forearm on the bench between your thighs with your wrist just over the edge
- Allow the weight to roll down the palm towards the fingers
- Curl the dumbbell back up by curling the wrist
- Repeat for the desired number of reps
- Repeat for the other arm
Standing Triceps Extension
- Stand with your back straight, your core tight and our feet shoulder-width apart
- Hold a dumbbell in both hands with your palms facing upwards
- Raise the weight overhead
- Lower the dumbbell in an arc behind your head in a controlled manner
- Slowly raise the weight back above your head
- Repeat for the desired number of reps
Seated Bicep Curls With Dumbbells
- Set up on a bench with your back straight and both feet firmly on the floor
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other
- Lower the dumbbells down by your sides
- With your palms facing up curl the weight upwards
- Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement before lowering the weight in a controlled manner
You can also pick up various grip and finger strength devices that are designed to combat these issues. Working with a device like the Hand X Band can help develop hand and grip strength, which can help mitigate some of the issues cause by golfer’s elbow. You can pick it up via the website or at Amazon.
Golfer’s elbow is a painful condition that requires active management, so be sure to check with your doctor before undergoing any treatment or workout program. There’s nothing worse for a golfer than being kept away from the course, and most of us have enough challenges to overcome when we’re playing without throwing pain into the mix!
Get professional advice while committing to actively manage the condition and you should find that the pain eases and you’re able to get on with your game.