Q: What is Golfer’s Elbow and how can I prevent it?
A: Also called Medial Epicondilitis, Golfer’s Elbow is pain and inflammation on the inner side of your elbow, where the tendons of your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump. The pain can also extend along the inside of your forearm to your wrist and be accompanied by stiffness, weakness, numbness or tingling .
And it’s not limited to golfers. Those practicing improper form in racquet sports, throwing sports, weight training or any activity with repetitive wrist, hand or arm movement can develop this condition as well. If you experience pain during your swing, when shaking hands, turning doorknobs or picking things up with your palm down you may have golfer’s elbow.
The best way to prevent Golfer’s Elbow is to consistently do the following:
WARM-UP before every and any activity that puts repetitive strain on your hand, wrist or forearm. Cold muscles are stiff and much more prone to injury. The best way to do this is with low intensity movements that focus around your intended activity. You can also add some self-massage and external heat. The amount of time spent will depend on the intensity of your activity and the ambient temperature you’ll be in while you’re doing it – so less time needed in summer and more in winter.
STRETCH arms, wrists and hands even when off the course. A muscle that is inflexible has limited strength and blood flow.
- Stretch your forearm flexors by turning your palm up toward the ceiling then pull your fingers down and in towards your belly, making sure to keep your elbow straight. Do this for a minimum of 30 seconds at a time, several times per day.
- Stretch your forearm extensors by turning your palm down toward the floor then pull the back of your had down and towards your belly, making sure to keep your elbow straight. Do this for a minimum of 30 seconds at a time, several times per day.
COLD ARM BATHS after your activity will minimize irritation and swelling caused by micro-tears during your game and prevent muscle soreness. Stretch first then simply run your entire forearm, fingertips to elbow, continuously under COLD running water. Spend an extra few seconds over your inner elbow each time you pass by. Continue for 1-2 minutes. Pat dry or air dry (don’t rub) to allow circulation to re-establish itself unassisted.
CONDITION affected muscles with specific strength exercises to allow for stability and stamina on and off the course.
- Balance your forearm on your thigh with your palm facing up. Place a dumbbell in your hand and slowly bend your wrist toward the ceiling as far as you can go. Hold for 1 second then lower towards the floor for 3 seconds. Repeat 10-20 times.
- Balance your forearm on your thigh with your palm facing down. Place a dumbbell in your hand and slowly bend your wrist toward the ceiling as far as you can go. Hold for 1 second then lower towards the floor for 3 seconds. Repeat 10-20 times.
- Balance your forearm on your thigh with your palm facing up. Place a dumbbell in your hand and rotate your forearm slowly, bringing your palm to face down. Make sure to hold the elbow still (use your other hand to brace it, if needed) and only move the forearm. Hold for 1 second then slowly rotate back the other way. Repeat 10-20 times.
Start lighter than you think you can handle at first and gradually increase the weight as you feel stronger. Remember that the last repetition should be performed as slowly as the first and with good form. If that’s not possible, lessen the weight.