5 ESSENTIAL EXERCISES FOR GOLFER’S ELBOW

Male golfer doing a golf swing outdoors which can cause golfer's elbow

Whether you are a novice or professional golfer, you have heard of golfer’s elbow. And most likely, you have seen the arm sleeves, elbow braces, and forearm taping worn by golfers to continue playing through the painful symptoms. If these responses to wearing and taping for the pain worked 100% of the time, this article would not need to be read. However, the reality is that they are often helpful in decreasing symptoms yet fail to address the root cause of the pain.

 

common flexor origin

What Is Golfer’s Elbow

The proper medical term for golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis, which refers to the inside portion of the elbow and forearm. As a result of repetitive overuse, the tendons at the elbow and forearm become inflamed and painful. The tendons are an attachment from the bone to the muscle.

Repetitive stress and strain from using muscles that bend (flex) the wrist, fingers, and thumb, pronate (the action of pouring a glass of water into a sink) the wrist and forearm. The location of the pain is the prominence (bump) on the inner elbow (medial epicondyle), which is the origin of the tendons that are inflamed at the aptly named common flexor origin (CFO).

While golfer’s elbow is less common the tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), the importance of seeking early treatment is essential for the rapid decrease in symptoms to allow for pain-free functioning.   

 

woman's arm with golfer's elbow or tennis elbow

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow

A common statement from patients is, “I don’t think they diagnosed me correctly because I don’t even golf!

So before we go any further, let’s discuss the causes of medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow):

  • Repetitive movements that involve gripping, twisting, or throwing increase the risk of developing golfer’s elbow.
  • Jobs that perform repetitive tasks involving the elbows, wrists, and hands, such as plumbers, carpenters, and construction, are at an increased risk of developing overuse symptoms.
  • With golfer’s: the repetitive swinging of a club is a significant factor due to overusing the muscles of the hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow. Also, suppose you’ve recently changed your grip, technique, or time spent playing golf (or the other jobs discussed above). In that case, you have the potential to create the right environment for the pain and other symptoms (burning, numbness, weakness) related to golfer’s elbow. 

 

physical activity of all sorts can cause golfer's elbow 

How To Effectively Treat Golfer’s Elbow

I’m not going to tell you to stop golf; however, if continuing to play golf would help make the pain better, you wouldn’t be still reading.

You will need to be aware of your symptoms and properly follow guidelines based on tissue healing and progressive loading for strengthening. Effective treatment is a combination of pain management, manual therapy (hands-on), exercise, and a detailed analysis of technique (including posture) and assessment of strength for the arm (including the shoulder girdle), and range of motion for the spine, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. Appropriate changes and adjustments are made, and a progressive strengthening program is started.   

 

Chiropractic Adjustment. Therapist doing manual therapy manipulation technique on an elbow. Tennis elbow injury.

 

Exercises

Isometric wrist flexion/extension

In a seated position with proper posture, rest the forearm on a table.

Perform ten repetitions for five seconds with five seconds rest between repetitions.

Exercises should be performed for all three positions (1, 2, and 3 in photos).

If pain is experienced, decrease the intensity of the muscular contraction. 

 

Medial Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) exercise pictures 2 Wrist flexion
Wrist flexion

 

Medial Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) exercise pictures 1 Wrist extension
Wrist extension

 

Isotonic wrist flexion/extension

In a seated position with proper posture, rest the forearm on a table.

Alternate wrist flexion and extension by performing three sets of ten to fifteen repetitions for each movement.

Exercises should be performed with a full range of motion (1 and 2).

If pain is experienced, decrease the weight of the dumbbell.   

 

Medial Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) exercise pictures part 2.002 Wrist flexion
Wrist flexion
Medial Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) exercise pictures part 2.001  Wrist extension
Wrist extension

 

Reverse Tyler Twist with Theraband FlexBar

 In a seated position with proper posture, rest the forearm on a table in palm up position  for the injured (right) side holding the FlexBar (1).

Bend the right wrist towards the ceiling (2).

The left hand (palm down) grips the FlexBar and twists away while the right hand maintains a firm grip on the FlexBar (3).

Slowly lower the right wrist (4) for a count of four seconds.

Perform three sets of ten to twelve repetitions.    

 

Medial Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) exercise pictures part 4.001 Reverse Tyler Twist exercise
Reverse Tyler Twist

 

Pronation/Supination with Indian/Persian club

In a seated position with proper posture, rest the forearm on a table with a stable grip on the Indian/Persian club (1).

Lower the Indian/Persian club in a controlled manner (2).

Rotate the Indian/Persian club to the opposite side (3).

Maintain a neutral wrist position and control the movement from the upper forearm for the entire exercise.

Perform three sets of fifteen repetitions.

 

Medial Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) exercise pictures part 3.001 Pronation/Supination with Indian/Persian club  
Pronation/Supination with Indian/Persian club

 

 

Indian/Persian club swing

Have a controlled grip on the club that is not too firm.

The exercise begins by dropping the wrist to the side (1), allowing the weighted end of the club to elevate (2).

Beginning straightening the elbow from momentum from the club (3).

Allow the club to elevate to a full shoulder elevation position (4).

The club then returns to the beginning position controlled and fluidly (video).

Perform one set of fifteen repetitions.  

Medial Epicondylitis (tennis elbow) exercise pictures part 5.001 Indian/Persian club swing
Indian/Persian club swing

 

 

 

These exercises should not increase pain. If your pain worsens with performing these exercises – review your technique with your physical therapist. Perform the exercises for both arms.  

 

 

How To Prevent Re-Occurrence

The last thing you want for your golf game is to have another episode or, even worse, repeated episodes of golfer’s elbow. You need to follow these six guidelines to minimize the likelihood of having to endure the symptoms.  

  1. Commitment to your home exercises. If you have had it once, you are susceptible to having another episode. Don’t forget your exercises to maintain all the improvements you’ve made.
  2. Understanding tissue healing.
  3. Make changes to your game gradually.
  4. Adherence to the warm-up exercises.
  5. Apply the changes to other areas of your life (e.g., ergonomics at your computer workstation). 
  6. Schedule an appointment with our golfing specialist to address your game.

 

 


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