Preventing Golfer’s Elbow takes some effort. Golfer’s elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, causes pain, inflammation, and tenderness in the muscles inside the elbow and forearm. This condition is typically the result of overuse or general wear and tear of the tendons, bones, and muscles in this area.
Golfer’s Elbow Symptoms
Golfer’s elbow is characterized by:
- Pain and tenderness – Usually these are felt on the inner side of your elbow and the pain sometimes extends along the inner side of the forearm; these symptoms may worsen with certain movements
- Stiffness – The elbow may feel stiff, and making a fist may cause pain
- Weakness – You may experience weakness in your arm and wrist
- Numbness or tingling – These symptoms may radiate into one or more fingers – usually, the ring and little fingers are affected
It is important to visit your doctor if the RICE therapy method; rest, ice, compression, and elevation, along with over-the-counter pain medications do not ease your symptoms. You should seek out immediate care if:
- Your elbow is hot and inflamed, and you have a fever
- You can’t bend your elbow
- Your elbow looks deformed
- You suspect you may have a broken bone
Activities such as throwing, rock climbing, and certain sports that require a gripping motion, or weight training, can lead to golfer’s elbow. Many exercises can help increase blood flow, relieve pain, and reduce inflammation in your elbow and forearm muscles, all while stretching and strengthening the tendons as well.
Exercises for Golfer’s Elbow
Golfer’s elbow stretches and exercises can quickly reduce discomfort frequency and intensity. The first week of treatment is when you might start to feel better, however, this depends on how swollen and irritated the tissue is. It can take six to eight weeks, or even more if the tissue is seriously damaged, to notice results.
Below are five of the many exercises one can use to help reduce symptoms and increase mobility:
- Wrist/forearm soft tissue rolling: To get the blood flowing in the area, this golfer’s elbow exercise involves only minimal stretching and movement of the tissues. Many people wish to stretch the area since it feels constrictive, but they should refrain from doing so excessively because the tissue is stiff, irritable, and inflamed, meaning overstretching may make things worse. Get a rounded object like a tennis or lacrosse ball and put your forearm on top of the ball with your palm facing up or down. Then, slowly roll your entire forearm up and down the ball 10 to 15 times, stopping on spots that feel extra sore; flex and extend your wrists while maintaining pressure. You can do soft tissue rolling a few times a day and use less or more pressure, depending on how sensitive the area is.
- Wrist flexion/extension stretch: Extend your arm and bend your wrist down and up until you feel the tension in both directions. If you would like, you can apply a little pressure at the end of the stretch, but don’t hold it for too long, simply pushing up and down will keep the joint fully mobile.
- Open book: An exercise where you lie on your side and bend your knees up to hip level. You will then extend your arms straight out in front of you and put your hands together at chest or shoulder height. Lift your top arm and move it so it falls toward the ground on the other side until you feel a stretch. Finally, bring your arm back to its original position. This exercise delivers great rotation in your upper and middle spine area while you’re in a comfortable, secure position on the floor
- Seated thoracic extension with a foam roll, towel roll, or low-back chair: You can do this exercise while lying on your back or sitting in a chair that has a low back. First, roll up a large towel or use a foam roller, and put it between your shoulder blades horizontally. Tighten your stomach as if someone is about to punch you in the gut and lift your arms over your head. Finally, extend your upper back and body over the top of the roll. This exercise helps stretch your whole front side, allowing your thoracic, or upper/middle spine to extend
- Shoulder/scapular wall slide: For this stretch, stand with your forearms against the wall or put a foam roller between your forearms and the wall. Slide your forearms straight up and down the wall, keeping contact with the wall/foam roller the entire time; continue this motion for one minute and repeat it two more times. If you tighten your stomach while performing this exercise, it will limit the excess movement in your back. This exercise can help create better movement in the shoulders by activating the muscles that help rotate the shoulder blades in an upward motion.
What NOT to do With Golfer’s Elbow
When recovering, you should avoid movements that require you to use your forearm muscles. Below are some exercises to avoid for golfer’s elbow:
- Heavy lifting, especially done with the palms up.
- Pulling or lifting repeatedly
- Movements on the irritated side
After you have fully recovered, keep up the following:
- Mobile shoulders- you should be able to move your arms overhead and to the side
- Decent posture- keeps your spine and shoulders in good alignment
You can manage the symptoms of golfer’s elbow as soon as they appear by performing the straightforward and efficient exercises shown above, which can be performed several times per day, depending on what each person can tolerate. Additional home remedies, such as RICE therapy are an option to help stop your disease from getting worse.
Be sure to exercise a few times a week, get enough rest, and maintain a nutritious diet. After starting treatment, your symptoms should go away in two weeks, however, some cases may require a visit to your doctor if you don’t feel better after this period.
To schedule a consultation at one of our two conveniently located South Florida locations, call South Florida Orthopedic Group (fka Meli Orthopedic Centers of Excellence) in Fort Lauderdale at (954) 466-5027 or in Margate at (954) 787-2649. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have.