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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Wampler

Fix Golfers Elbow!

As someone who has experienced elbow pain and is an avid golfer, I can attest to the fact that golfer's elbow is far from enjoyable. Golf is a sport that many of you reading this probably love as much as I do, so anything that hinders our ability to play can be incredibly frustrating. The aim of this blog is to delve into some effective methods for alleviating elbow pain.

Let's begin by understanding golfer's elbow. We have a group of muscles that connect to the inner side of the elbow bone (medial epicondyle). These muscles come together to form a shared tendon known as the common flexor tendon. When we play golf, this tendon can become irritated, and over time, degeneration in the tendon can cause pain and restricted movement.

Tendons can be challenging to rehabilitate because they have a limited blood supply, and we frequently use our elbow, wrist, and hand for various activities throughout the day. This constant use may hinder proper healing and result in overuse and increased pain. Let's discuss ways in which we can alleviate our pain and promote elbow healing.

There are various techniques that can be effective for soft tissue or massage work on the affected area, such as vibration tools, instrument-assisted scraping, and cupping, to name a few. However, I would like to discuss one of my favorite low-cost tools for soft tissue work: a lacrosse ball.

To utilize the lacrosse ball, we have several effective options for addressing the tendon issue. One approach is to apply pressure on the painful area by pushing the ball into it and holding the pressure. Alternatively, we can slowly twist the ball while applying pressure to the affected area. Another method involves placing the ball on a firm surface and leaning the painful area into it. We can maintain this position or add movement to our wrists and hands while exerting pressure. These techniques can potentially enhance blood circulation in the area and reduce pain sensitivity.

Another excellent option is incorporating targeted stretching for the affected area. Tightness in these muscles can often result in heightened stress during activities such as golfing. Through stretching exercises, we can effectively loosen up the area and further promote desensitization while improving blood flow.

The last thing we should consider is strengthening the affected area. By doing so, we can make the muscles and tendons stronger and more resilient, ultimately reducing pain and improving overall function.

Let's discuss a few ways to strengthen this area. First, we can consider incorporating isometric exercises. Instead of actively moving up and down, these exercises involve contracting the muscles and holding the position. To begin, try holding the isometric position for 5-10 seconds and repeating it 5-10 times. This will allow for a low-stress way to start building these muscles. You can watch the video below for a demonstration.

After about a week or two of performing isometrics, we can progress to eccentric training. This involves lengthening the muscles while they contract against a load. There are a few tools you can use for this exercise. One option is using a therabar to perform a Tyler twist, which targets the flexor muscles through an eccentric contraction. Alternatively, you can use dumbbells or resistance bands to perform the same exercise. In the video below, we discuss these options in more detail.

To start, choose a resistance that allows you to perform 10-12 reps and aim for 2-3 sets of each exercise. Rest for about 30-60 seconds between sets. Remember to gradually increase the resistance as you get stronger.

Performing these exercises will likely help reduce pain over time. It can take an average of 6-8 weeks to see great results (although some people improve a lot faster). Stick with it, and it will likely pay off.

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