PT on the Net Research

Golfers Elbow


Question:

One of my clients has golfer's elbow. Apart from her doctor explaining that she needed to strengthen her forearms and watch her form when doing bicep curls, are there any other exercises and/or stretches I can suggest to help alleviate or keep this from happening again?

Answer:

Golfer’s elbow is like tennis elbow, just on the opposite side of the joint. It seems that golfers elbow or Medial Epicondylitis is associated with the “over use” type syndrome. This repetitive trauma with the same mechanical motion creates its effect, which are inflammation and pain.

Along with your client’s doctor, a good physiotherapist would be a great person to consult regarding treatment and rehabilitation specific to the severity of your client’s condition.

Apparently, this injury has to do with biomechanical problems and long term improvement will need to be addressed by a golf pro. I am unsure of the finer points of this mechanical error, but it seems people who develop this problem have a “flat” swing arc when striking the ball, which leads to greater impact force on the golf club head that then transfers to the fingers, hands and elbows.

Improving the strength of the forearms and a few corrections in swing mechanics may be essential for correcting or preventing the problem. The strength training falls under a balancing act. By this, I mean trying to balance the strength between the forearm flexors and the extensors. You may accomplish this by working with your client through different forearm and elbow flexion/extension exercises.

We must listen to our clients when working through these exercises. If they say it “hurts,” stop the exercise. Reposition the hand and try again. Repositioning the hand in all of the exercises will give you the latitude you need for proper progression. A few hand positions to try are palms up or supinated, palms down or pronated and the blade of the hand vertical, thumbs up in the neutral position. (The exercise selection can be found by selecting Muscle Group "Arms" in the PTN Exercise Library.) The loads will vary, but light loads with low reps are a good start. Remember, if it causes pain, stop and reposition the hands.

There are a few other suggestions for this condition. Warm up the hands, wrists and elbows prior to training and golf. This may be accomplished by range of motion exercises that have no or little weight and do not cause pain. Do these exercises until the joints are warm to the touch and “feel loose.” Another is some type of sports gel that has an analgesic property to it. Rub in a liberal amount 10 to 15 minutes before training or playing. Last is the ice bag after training or playing to decrease the inflammation. Some people recommend NSAIDs for anti-inflammatory effect. It depends on your point of view. The best course of action may be both.

I hope this helps you and your client overcome the dreaded Golfer’s Elbow.