What a great time to be in Arizona! With a high of 80° and sunny weather, it is the perfect time for Phoenicians and snowbirds to partake in the wonderful outdoor activities the Valley of the Sun has to offer; one of the more popular activities being golf. There is not a better place than Arizona in the winter to experience the plethora of picturesque and world-renowned courses. Nonetheless, the great weather or game of golf is not immune from injuries. An injury that we see on a regular basis is golfer’s elbow (i.e. medial epicondylitis). Here we would like to discuss what golfer’s elbow is and provide some stretching tips on how you can reduce the injury and pain associated with golfer’s elbow.
What Is Golfer’s Elbow?
To begin describing this type of injury, let’s begin by briefly going over the anatomy. Golfer’s elbow involves a tendon known as the common flexor tendon that connects the flexor forearm muscles to the inner (medial) side of the elbow bone (epicondyle). Constant repetition of bending the wrist, for example, as when holding and swinging a golf club, can lead to inflammation of the medial epicondyle. This repetitive motion and cumulative stress can cause the tendons at the inner side of the elbow to deteriorate. Generally, patients experience symptoms of pain and tenderness at the inner side of the elbow that increases during wrist flexion or grasping motions. The pain may radiate down the forearm and if not treated immediately, further micro-deterioration of the tendons could lead to severe pain, inability to play golf, and even surgery.
5 Ways To Prevent Golfer’s Elbow
Fortunately, there are a number of stretches and exercises that can treat and even prevent golfer’s elbow. We have compiled 3 exercises and 2 stretches that work to strengthen the forearm muscles in the hopes of preventing golfer’s elbow. Try to incorporate these stretches and exercises during your golf season (especially if pain does arise on the inside part of your elbow) as well as during the off-season.
- Wrist Curl
Place your forearm on your quadriceps with your palm facing the sky. Next hold a lightweight dumbbell in your hand. Very slowly extend your wrist as far as you can (your fingers will move towards the ground), followed by slowly curling the dumbbell moving towards your body. Your flexor forearm muscles should be completely flexed at this point. Do about 10 repetitions with one arm, and then repeat with the other arm.
- Reverse Wrist Curl
Place your forearm on your quadriceps with your palm facing the ground. Next, hold a lightweight dumbbell in your hand and very slowly drop your wrist as far as you can (your fingers will move towards the ground). Then, bring the dumbbell upwards towards the sky by contracting the muscles on the outside of your forearm. Your extensor forearm muscles should be completely extended at this point. Again, do about 10 repetitions with one arm, and then repeat with the other arm.
- Hand Grip & Squeeze
Simply take a tennis ball and alternate between squeezing and releasing the ball. Perform this for about 5 minutes at a time for each arm.
- Parallel Ulnar Nerve Floss
The ulnar nerve runs along side the medial epicondyle and can become “trapped” by constant inflammation and build-up of scar tissue. This floss (stretch) works to break-up the scar tissue, which may “entrap” the ulnar nerve and decrease inflammation. Start by curling your forearm to your biceps. Point your fingers towards your head where your palm is facing the sky. Your hand should be parallel with your shoulders. Gently take your other hand and place it on the pinky and ring finger of your bent arm. Gently push down on these two fingers while bending your neck in the opposite direction of the bent arm. Remember not to push too hard; aim for a gentle stretch. Hold the stretch for only 5 seconds, repeat 5 times and aim to stretch at least 3 times a day.
- Perpendicular Ulnar Nerve Floss
This floss technique is similar to the one above; only differing in the direction of the stretch. Straighten your arm in front of you with your palm facing outward. Have your arm about shoulder level and perpendicular to your shoulder. Again with the opposite hand, gently grab the pinky and ring finger of the straightened arm. Gently pull the two fingers towards you. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times. Aim to stretch at least 3 times a day.
These simple and yet effective exercises will go a long way in preventing serious problems associated with golfer’s elbow. Again, these techniques are all working to strengthen as well as loosen the muscle of your forearm. Although these are simple exercises that can be performed at your convenience, please consult your doctor before doing so. Only your doctor will be able to determine if medial epicondylitis is the cause of your pain and will recommend the best rehabilitation option for you. What stretches or exercises work best in keeping you on top of your golf game? Let us know!
Tags: golfer’s elbow, medial epicondylitis, stretches, exercises, pain management, chronic pain
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