Golfer’s Elbow? Start Here

The forearm takes on an overwhelming amount of force throughout the golf swing. We all know the saying “hold it like a baby bird” but at impact the average tour player’s grip pressure is upwards of 60 kilograms/square inch. That’s a lot of force for a lot of repetitions. Combine all this work with the repetitive typing on keyboards and phones and our wrist flexors and extensors (forearm muscles) take quite a beating. Although golfer’s elbow usually refers to medial elbow pain, where the wrist flexors attach, lateral elbow pain (tennis elbow) can also be caused by playing golf.


Often, when working with clients that are feeling tightness in their forearm or elbow pain, they have made minor changes in their swings or lifestyle that have compounding effects when done repetitively. As a result, the wrist flexors and extensors will begin to tighten and may become painful. The flexor muscles of the wrist generally attach to the medial aspect of the elbow, and the extensors to the lateral aspect of the forearm. Because we both flex and extend the elbow under load in the golf swing, there is a possibility that the medial and lateral elbow could start hurting, not just the medial elbow, typically referred to as golfer’s elbow. 


I will usually see people after they have started to wear an elbow strap or have already gotten a cortisone injection (or three), but these should not be the starting point of care for these conditions. Some simple stretches should be your jumping off point for making these areas feel better. Although these static stretches have been around since the beginning of time, they seem to be forgotten once the actual forearm hurts. These stretches can help reduce pain in the area, as well as decrease the amount of muscle tone the flexors or extensors are experiencing - the end result is less tension on the tendons in the elbow. 


If you are making changes to your swing or your training routine, I would definitely incorporate these into your training or daily movement practice to stay ahead of pesky elbow pain. These stretches should be done throughout your day, the goal being 3-5x/day for a minute a piece. Seems daunting, but they can be a good break from typing. You can even pair them with a half kneeling hip flexor stretch and get a huge bang for your buck while breaking up your sitting. 


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