Injury of the Week #5: Golfers Elbow

Golfers Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

What is it?

Golfers elbow is inflammation of the common forearm flexor tendon that attaches to the medial epicondyle of the humerus (at the elbow). This is the group of muscles that are primarily responsible for flexing and adducting the wrist as well as the fingers.

When do you notice the pain?

You will notice the pain when lifting things, opening a jar or turning a doorknob, or other similar movements with the hand/wrist. It can also hurt in golf when you make impact with the ball in your swing, hence the term golfers elbow, but people who play other sports besides golf can experience this injury as well. This injury can differ in severity, so some people may experience more pain then others in their daily tasks.

Where does it hurt?

It will be painful on the inner side of the elbow. If you have your palm facing towards the sky, it will be sore on the side of the elbow closest to your body. It is often tender to the touch. You may also experience some numbness/tingling down the forearm arm as well.

How does it happen?

Golfers elbow can occur from tightness in the forearm flexor muscles (with your palm facing the sky, it will be the forearm muscles that are pointing towards the sky also). It can also arise from an overuse of these muscles. We use these muscles a lot throughout our day and often do not stretch or strengthen them effectively!

How can I help it go away?

Golfers elbow can become very nagging, chronic injuries so you must be patient with your rehab process! And rest does not always = rehab. However, there is a universal elbow strap that I have found to be very helpful in my patients. But, there are many helpful therapeutic exercises and stretches to help alleviate golfers elbow.

If you have any symptoms of golfers elbow, or maybe have been ignoring it for a while, feel free to book in an Athletic Therapy virtual session with me!

Stretch of the Week for Golfers Elbow!

Wrist Flexor Stretch

Start in a table top position and point your fingers towards your knees. Now slightly lean back to sit on your heels and you should feel a strong stretch in your forearms. Hold for 20-30 seconds (post exercise) and repeat 3 times

The forearem flexor (and extensor) muscles are commonly ignored when it comes to stretching and strengthening!

PREHAB for Golfers Elbow!

Eccentric Pronation: 3 sets of 10-15

Using a resistance band, take hold of the band with your palm facing the sky and your elbow at your side. This is an eccentric exercise so we are focusing on the phase returning to the starting position. Flip your palm towards the ground and SLOWLY return to neutral, with the palm to face the sky. Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 reps

If you are doing this on your right arm, make sure the resistance band is anchored on your right side and palm facing the sky, and vise versa for the left arm.

Eccentric strengthening is a great way to add a challenge to your exercises! When we perform an eccentric contraction, the muscle is lengthening, which causes more force to be applied on the joint. You may experience this when you hike up a mountain: you will likely be more sore because of the descent down the mountain versus climbing up it! Something to think about if your exercises are getting too easy!

REHAB for Golfers Elbow

Resistance band wrist flexion: 3 sets of 10-15

This is a great wrist flexion strengthening exercise! Notice in the video that my elbow is supported the entire time so the wrist is doing all of the work. Make sure this doesn’t turn into a bicep curl!

By anchoring the resistance band under your foot, rest your forearm on your knee and grab hold of the band with the palm facing the sky. Flex the wrist by bringing the fist towards your body and return to neutral. Try 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

This can easily be turned into an eccentric exercise, as described in yesterday’s post: when you flex the wrist up, SLOWLY bring it back down to the starting position.

With golfers elbow, we want to stretch and strengthen the flexor muscle so it can withstand the stresses of our daily activities and sports! This is a great exercise that I recommend ALL golfers, tennis players, cyclists (you name it) do all year long!

Therapeutic Workout for Golfers Elbow!

1) Wrist Adduction w/ Resistance Band: like our wrist flexion exercise from yesterday, keep the forearm rested on the thigh. Make a fist with your thumb pointed to the sky and the resistance anchored ABOVE your wrist, pull the fist down towards the ground: 3 set of 10-15 reps

2) High Plank to Low Plank: This can be done from the toes or the knees. This is very challenging! Try achieving 10 reps and repeating 3 sets.

3) Cross Body High to Low w/ Resistance Band: ideally you could anchor this to a pillar or something you can tie it to up high, but in this case I just held onto it with the other arm. Start with your right hand holding the resistance band at your left shoulder height. Bring the arm down and across your body to finish the movement at your right front jean pocket and return to neutral. Keep an eye on my fist throughout this movement: I am pointing my fist down and almost behind me. This will help achieve the wrist-flexion component at the end stage of this movement. Aim for 3 sets of 10-15 reps

4) Push Up w/ Medicine Ball: From knees or toes. Perform the push up with one hand on top of the med ball, roll it over to the other hand and repeat: aim for 3 sets of 10-15

This is a challenging circuit that you can do anytime! The forearm muscles are often forgotten about, which is why it is great to implement some of these exercises into your existing routine!

Recap on Golfers Elbow!

This week we highlighted golfers elbow: if you missed my video from earlier this week, golfers elbow is an inflammation of the common wrist flexor tendon, which originates on the medial epicondyle of the elbow. With the palm facing the sky, you will have pain on the inner edge of the elbow, the side closest to your body.

Stretch of the week which was a kneeling forearm stretch. This is where we put both hands on the ground in front of us with our fingers facing our knees and then gently lean back to sit on our heels. You can either sit here and hold, or rock back and forth into this stretch.

The prehab exercise was an eccentric pronation exercise with the resistance band. An eccentric contraction is where we move slow and controlled back to our starting position: this is where a contraction where the muscle is actually lengthening.

The rehab exercise was the wrist flexion exercise with the resistance band. With our forearm rested on our thigh, anchor the resistance band under your foot and hold the band with your palm facing the sky. Here you will bring the fist towards your body. Again you can make this an eccentric exercise by slowly returning the fist to neutral.

1) Wrist adduction with the resistance band

2) High to low plank

3) High to low cross body resistance band and lastly

4) push up with the medicine ball. A challenging circuit that could be easily implemented into any workout!

Hope you enjoyed this injury of the week being golfers elbow! Now seems appropriate for us all to go golfing!! 

If you are experiencing any symptoms like golfers elbow, feel free to book in a virtual session with me!

Next week we are moving to the shoulder! Again if any specific injuries you want highlighted please comment below!

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