The first thing you should know about ‘golfer’s elbow’ (medial epicondylitis) is that it is not limited to just golfers. With any muscle in our body if we put repetitive motion and stress on a joint inflammation is going to happen.
Some of my personal training client’s, tennis players, Baseball players, even sedentary people who work at a desk all day may become victims of golfer’s elbow pain. Rest is generally the best course of action in lowering the inflammation effects, but in situations where the person must work all day rest may not be an option. In this blog, M.A.T-certified specialist Maurice Harden shares medical exercise protocols for understanding and managing golfer’s elbow pain.
What is Golfers Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow is inflammation at the medial epicondyle of the elbow joint. Golfer’s elbow is like tennis elbow, but the pain originates on the inside of the elbow. In some cases, there may be small tears at the attachment site of the muscle involved. Most of the pain is in the tendons of your forearm muscles where they attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. In severe cases, the pain may spread to your forearm and/or wrist while picking up certain items.
Golfer’s elbow is usually the result of repetitive motions and is associated with muscle weakness. When a muscle is weak or not contracting as it should the other muscles that support that joint have to work harder to perform. This causes a sort of overload on the muscles that are working causing inflammation and pain. Eventually, you start to lack range of motion and even lose your grip strength.
Keys to Managing Golfer’s Elbow
The first thing that needs to be addressed is the inflammation. Inflammation equals pain, therefore, you must address the issue before you can begin identifying and managing weaknesses. For most people NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory medications) are enough to lower the inflammation but it may also require ice and of course rest.
Taking pills alone will not solve your golfer’s elbow pain. The next step should be changing the repetitive motions. For example, if a golfer has medial epicondylitis it is likely because he has a flawed swing. This could be improved with learning a new swing pattern or just simply taking more golf lessons.
If you work at a desk all day and you have been diagnosed with medial epicondylitis. Try asking your employer for a more functional mouse and keyboard, this may be enough to change some repetitive motions and keep you from experiencing more acute pain.
Working Out With Golfers Elbow
The safest way to start exercises for strengthening those weak muscles that may be contributing to the pain is to start with hand strength. You can buy hand grips, used putty or fat grips if you’re always in the gym.
When working out, changing your grip size may be another way to help manage your pain and allow you to build some grip strength back up. I like to use fat grips when I’m working with wrist and hand problems. You can also wrap small rags around your dumbbell. This works for things you know you will be gripping around the house too.
Trainer Tip: Try isometrics by flexing and extending your wrist into your other hand for 3 to 6 seconds per repetition. Once you’re able to do those things without pain you can move to wrist flexion and extension with weight to the range of motion (ROM) you have available.
Work with a MAT Personal Trainer
If trying to figure out how to strengthen your wrist flexors is too complicated, contact a local personal trainer or medical exercise specialist. Muscle activation techniques can also help by identifying specific muscles that are working, and which are not. Then, a more specific exercise program can be developed to decrease your risk for golfer’s elbow pain. Call/text Dynamic Fitness & Medical Training to work out with a knowledgeable personal trainer!