Simple and Effective Ways to Treat Golfer’s Elbow
Contrary to popular belief, the painful condition known as “Golfer’s Elbow” doesn't just affect people that golf.
The name comes from the fact that many golfers acquire this particular condition from constantly gripping and swinging a golf club.
Golfer’s elbow (not to be confused with “Tennis Elbow”) is a condition that occurs when the tendons and muscles on the inside of your forearm, attached to the inside of that bony bump known as your elbow (or more scientifically, medial epicondyle) become inflamed and damaged.
This damages can occur through excessive use, improper form, constant gripping, heavy lifting, twisting or throwing. Even simple and menial tasks like turning a doorknob or shaking someone’s hand too often can cause Golfer’s Elbow!
Not surprisingly, being the hypochondriac that I am, even typing causes me some discomfort!
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So if you feel pain, stiffness, and numbness or are having difficulty moving your forearm, you might just be living with this painful ailment! For your benefit I have created a list of stretches, exercises and remedies that you can try to get rid of that pesky Golfer’s Elbow and prevent future pain and injury.
First Things First
Reduce your pain:
If you are currently experiencing the immense pain of Golfer’s Elbow and want it to stop, please stop doing the things that got you here in the first place! That means you have to put that repetitive, straining activity (like golf or weightlifting) on the backburner for a bit.
This will allow you for a reduction in inflammation in your tendons before you begin your lengthening and strengthening exercises.
Apply ice packs or really, anything from your freezer to your affected elbow for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. This will also help to reduce your inflammation and pain so you can start gentle movement again. You can protect your skin by wrapping the ice pack in a cloth or paper towel.
Pills or Ointment
Visit your local drugstore and pick up some ibuprofen (brand name Advil) or acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol). Take the recommended dose at the recommended times and your pain will decrease.
Not into taking pills? Look for arnica montana ointment and apply generously and massage the affected elbow. Arnica montana is a miracle ointment that lessens the pain of almost any inflammation. It is a great natural solution worth trying.
Time to Start Lengthening and Strengthening
Now that you have reduced your pain, here are some excellent stretches, exercises and other remedies to try that will help you get back to your regular activities and movement.
These suggested stretches and exercises are not exclusively meant for aftercare but are recommended to integrate into your regular routine to prevent future injury.
These simple but effective exercises can be done up to 3 times daily, permitted you do not experience mounting pain as you complete them. Stretching will help reduce inflammation and is great for muscle, joint and tendon maintenance.
1. Wrist rotation - This is a great easy exercise to start with as it’ll begin to loosen your muscles, preparing for other stretches and exercises.
Start by bending your affected arm at a 90 degree angle with your palm facing outward and that elbow tucked closely to your side, so the elbow sits just below your ribcage. Then rotate your wrist so that your palm faces upwards and hold for a total of 5 seconds. Then rotate your wrist the other way so that your palm faces downward and hold for 5 seconds. Do this for a total of 10 times.
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2. Supinated wrist flexor stretch - Extend your affected arm out long in front of you so that the inside of your elbow and palm faces up. Grab the fingers of on that hand using opposite your non-stretched arm. Using that hand pull the fingers of your stretched arm down and toward your body.
Your outstretched arm will feel a stretch from a little above the elbow to all the way down the wrist and fingers. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3 times. 3. Pronated wrist flexor stretch - Extend the injured arm straight in front of you with your palm facing downwards. Bend the wrist while pressing gently down on the fingers using your opposite hand. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Choose one or all of these to try and complete daily. They will help you strengthen your muscles and prevent future injury when doing strenuous or repetitive activity.
1. Eccentric wrist curl
This is a great and easy exercise that is proven to work. According to research done by Timothy Tyler PT, ATC at the Nicholas Institute, after completing eccentric curls the tendon appears less thick which means a reduction in damage. Typical wrist curls are done with a weighted curl up using the wrist and a release down.
The strengthening is done in the upper flexion and this is called a concentric curl. With eccentric curls you want to focus on the downward movement. If you are treating your left elbow you will use your right arm to help get your left wrist in a fully flexed position- the position it would end up in if you were completing a concentric curl.
Then using only your left wrist, release slowly to a count of 5. Make sure you really do count slowly and that you are only using your right hand to help get your opposite wrist in the flexed position.
Complete 3 sets of 10 curls daily until you gradually build up to completing 3 sets of 30. This exercise should be done slowly. Also please do not overweight or overwork your arm, start out with a lighter weight (perhaps a can of soup or even tomato paste) and build up from there.
2. Squeeze and Release
Find a soft tennis ball (or stress ball) and hold it in the hand of the injured elbow. Squeeze the ball for 5 seconds and release. If you feel no pain, do 2 sets of 15
3. The Elastic Trick
Find an elastic and wrap it around your thumb, just right about the knuckles. Open your hand so that your palm begins to open and the elastic stretches, then close your hand. Repeat this open and close 15-20 times.
4. Wrist Flexion With Weights
Support your forearm by placing it on a table so that your wrist meets the edge of the table. . Your palm should be facing upwards and your hand will be sitting at the edge of the table. Using a weight (use a very small amount of weight if you need to- try a can of tomato paste), lower your hand as far as possible and then curl it up as high as possible. Complete 3 sets of 10 curls daily. If you are having trouble with this one, imagine it as nearly opposite to eccentric wrist curls.
Still left wondering what else you can do to help care for your Golfer’s Elbow and prevent future injury?
In addition to the many immediate remedies, stretches and exercises provided here you could try the following:
1. Massage to ease the pain
Work from medial epicondyle (bottom of inner elbow) all the way down through the interior of your forearm. When you work from the bottom of the forearm to the middle you are creating length and reducing the pulling and strain on medial epicondyle. The first 4 minutes of this video is very effective in showing how to complete this massage.
2. Wearing a brace
This method will not fix your injury, however it will help prevent strain on your tendons and muscles when completing activities. This is especially a good idea if your work involves constant strain on the forearm muscles and tendons
3. Listen to your body
If you are in chronic pain from Golfer’s Elbow, do not put excessive strain on the injured area. This may mean avoiding your favorite sport like golf (or other activities and movements) for months on end. When in doubt, go see your doctor and consult with them, surgery might be necessary.
Most importantly you should always, ALWAYS, listen to what your body is trying to tell you and know that pain should not be a constant.