Golfer’s elbow is a common ailment, not only for golfers but anyone that uses their arm in a repetitive motion that stresses the muscles and tendons of the forearm.
The ailment is common with tennis players, weightlifters, baseball players, contractors, painters, landscapers, and of course golfers.
Often, golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are confused with each other.
The difference between the two is where the pain occurs on the arm.
With golfer’s elbow, you feel pain on the lower inside of the elbow. If you touch the bone that sticks out on the inside of your elbow, it will be sensitive or painful to the touch.
Tennis elbow pain is on the opposite side where the upper bone on the outside of the elbow protrudes from the arm.
Also, golfer’s elbow occurs in the trailing arm of the swing, and with tennis elbow, you feel pain in the lead arm.
I will discuss tennis elbow in another article, in this post I want to concentrate on the golfers elbow exercises that will help get rid of the pain and the causes so you can prevent pain in the first place.
What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?
As mentioned, the cause of golfer’s elbow might not be golf. Many people have occupations or hobbies that cause golfer’s elbow, carpenters come to mind, the repetitive hammering of nails is a motion that will cause elbow pain.
But when the cause of the pain is golf, generally the problem is a swing characteristic. The two most common characteristics are scooping and chicken winging. In some cases, the early extension swing characteristic will cause golfer’s elbow as the position of the arm during the follow through is pushed outward.
The condition of your golf course or driving range can also be responsible. Hitting off of the hard ground or hitting off of mats at the driving range can cause golfer’s elbow to flare up.
It is important to remember that the golfers elbow exercises in this article will help reduce the pain, but to fix the problem; you should see a TPI Golf Fitness Professional to have your golf swing evaluated and swing characteristics identified so they can be corrected to eliminate golfer’s elbow from flaring up again.
Golfer’s elbow is known in the medical world as medial epicondylitis. The reason for the pain is that excessive or repeated stress damages the muscles and tendons that control your wrist and fingers. Stress can come from the position of the elbow and wrist or from jarring compressions.
Improper lifting, throwing, and hitting, as well as too little warm-up or poor conditioning, can contribute to golfer’s elbow.
Golfer’s elbow is a chronic issue, in other words, a day or two of stress isn’t going to cause golfer’s elbow. The stress needs to occur over an extended period to cause golfer’s elbow.
If you have golfer’s elbow the pain is on the inside of your elbow and it often moves into the lower forearm. Your elbow may feel stiff, and your wrist and hand will be weak. Sometimes, you will have a tingling feeling in your arm, like it is falling asleep.
Pain can come on you quickly, or always be lingering with you. You’ll notice your elbow hurts more when you use your wrist or lift something heavy. Turning doorknobs or other rotational motions are especially painful.
Older people are more likely to suffer the symptoms of golfer’s elbow than younger people.
If left untreated golfer’s elbow could cause loss of muscle in your forearm and decrease wrist mobility. Golfer’s elbow could become chronic. You would be wise to see a doctor if the pain is continuous and increases in severity over time.
3 Exercises To Help Golfer’s Elbow
The only way to get rid golfer’s elbow is to either stop doing the activity causing the damage or change the way you do that activity.
If you believe your golf swing is causing your elbow to hurt, I recommend that you have your swing evaluated for the scooping or chicken wing swing characteristic and have a fitness professional set up a golf fitness program that will correct the physical limitations that cause the swing characteristics.
In the Mean Time
Here are three golfers elbow exercises that will help strengthen your wrists and forearms. Having more mobility and strength in your wrists isn’t a complete cure, but it should help reduce the severity of the pain and stop flare-ups.
The first exercise is a stretch. I called this exercise Assisted Flexion & Extension Wrist Stretch.
Assisted Flexion & Extension Wrist Stretch
Extend the arm that has the sore elbow straight out in front of you.
Flex your wrist backward and use the other hand to slowly and gently pull it back. Pull until you can feel quite a bit of tension in the muscles of your lower forearm. Hold the position for a few seconds.
Release your grip on the hand and let your wrist straighten completely out.
Now extend your wrist downward and use the other hand to gently and slowly pull it under further. You will feel the tension in your upper forearm. Again, hold this position for a few seconds before releasing your hand.
Do this 5 or 6 times. You can do this stretch multiple times during the day.
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Grab a light weight, 5- to 10-pounds, and grip the weight with the hand of the injured elbow.
If you have a lot of pain in your elbow hold your arm outward, this will allow your elbow to move slightly and will also recruit your shoulder to help you twist the weight.
When your elbow doesn’t hurt do the following instead.
Bend your elbow 90-degrees and rest it against your side. This will stop your shoulder from rotating so only your wrist can move the weight.
I didn’t use this method in the video below (my bad). Instead, I held my arm out straight. This exercise is best when only the wrist rotates and the elbow twists slightly.
Start with your palm facing downward.
Slowly turn the weight, until your palm is facing up. Rotate as far as you can and hold it there for a few seconds.
Next, rotate the wrist back to the starting position but try to turn away from your body as much as you can. Again, hold that position before relaxing.
Do this exercise 5 to 8 times.
The video below shows you all three of the golfers elbow exercises. After the video, I will explain the third exercise.
The last of the three golfers elbow exercises is the Flexbar Reverse Twist.
For this exercise, I used Theraband’s Flexbar to help extend the wrist downward and to strengthen the forearm when flexing the wrist backward.
The Flexbar is made out of rubber and is available in 4 different strengths. The green Flexbar used in the video is rated to require 15 pounds of force to twist. I recommend getting either the green or red Flexbar (rated at 10-pounds of force) as I think the yellow is too flexible, and the blue would require too much effort for most people to twist.
Theraband has clinical studies that show the Flexbar reduced pain and increase strength in those that suffer from golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow. The Flexbar has many other uses, and I will do a review of it in a later article.
You can purchase Flexbar at Amazon.
The setup for the Reverse Twist is a little tricky.
Flexbar Reverse Twist
For the setup, I’m going to assume that your right elbow is the one that hurts.
Grab the Flexbar on the right-hand side of the bar, with your thumb facing you and the back of your hand facing away. Hold it slightly out in front of your body.
Now, lift your left elbow and grab the left-hand side of the bar over the top with your thumb away from you and very close the edge of the bar.
Lower your left elbow and keep a good grip on the bar with your right hand. This should twist the Flexbar as you extend your arms straight out.
You should have both arms straight out from your body, palms up with your thumbs on top of the Flexbar.
Slowly let the Flexbar extend your right wrist downward by keeping a firm grip on the bar with your left hand and keeping both arms locked out. You can open your right hand slightly so the Flexbar can twist more.
Once you have flexed as far as you can, curl your right wrist back up to twist the Flexbar. You can squeeze the bar at this point to gain more rotation.
Do this exercise 6 to 8 times or until your wrist and forearm gets tired. You can do this exercise multiple times a day if you like.
There are the three golfers elbow exercises that will help lessen your pain. The best part is you can do the exercises in front of the television while watching golf or your favorite show.
These exercises will only help decrease pain, but reduce the occurrence of golfer’s elbow flare-ups. To eliminate golfer’s elbow, you’ll need to stop the activity that is causing the pain.
If your golf game is the cause, or you aggravate the elbow during your golf swing, I recommend you have a TPI Golf Fitness Professional take a look at your swing to see what swing characteristics might be causing the issue.
Send me a video of your golf swing from the face-on position and I will take a look at the swing and give you some recommendations on how to correct the limitations.
For more information on how to eliminate the swing characteristics that cause golfer’s elbow, Scooping & Chicken Winging, I have created a couple of pdf’s that list exercises you might want to try. Click the buttons below and I will e-mail them to you.
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