demonstrating what golf elbow is
General Knowledge

What Is Golf Elbow And How Do You Prevent It?

Young and old, low and high handicap players are at risk of injuring muscles in their neck, back, arms and legs if you don’t warm up. In this post, we look at what golf elbow is and how you can prevent and cure it.

What is Golf Elbow?

Golfers elbow or Medial Epicondylitis is a pain that runs from the palm of your hand up to your elbow. The pain disables the individual from forming a fist. 

Simply put, it is bloody painful. It also prevents you from playing golf or lifting up an alcoholic beverage.

a golfer bends his elbow risking golf elbow

Do Golfers Only get Golf Elbow?

Contrary to the misleading name, golfers elbow is suffered by more people than just golfers. In fact, 0.5% of the population experiences symptoms of golf elbow. Baseball pitchers and rowers are also susceptible, not to mention everyone when we carry a suitcase.

Who Is At Risk Of Golfers Elbow?

While the elderly golfers may be at a higher risk. The reality is that golfers of all ages are susceptible to the symptoms if they overdo it. 

Is Golfers Elbow the Same as Tennis Elbow?

No, they are not the same. While both affect the same body part, the two are vastly different. Golfers elbow is known as medial elbow pain, while tennis elbow is considered lateral elbow pain. 

Medial elbow pain is caused by our wrist flexors, while lateral elbow pain is caused by our wrist extensors. You use wrist flexors when you flick your wrist towards the palm of your hand, as is the case on your backswing. 

Wrist extensors push the wrist away from the palm of your hand, like a backhand in tennis. Tennis elbow is more common than golfers elbow and is experienced by 3% of the population.

tennis elbow is not the same condition as golf elbow

What causes Golf Elbow?

Golfers elbow stems from a high degree of pressure placed on our wrist flexors. It commonly occurs when your rear elbow bends at the top of your backswing. 

How Do I Prevent Golf Elbow?

Stretch your wrist before undertaking any task that challenges your wrist flexors. Undertake a variety of strengthening exercises that will help keep your wrist out of trouble.

If you feel that your elbow is tense or your wrists are fragile, refrain from any activities which could prompt an injury. Listen to your body, and don’t overdo it.

How Long Do Golf Elbow Symptoms Last?

Without any treatment, golf elbow symptoms are likely to vanish within a year. However, if you use exercise and stretch consistently, positive results will be achieved sooner.

How Do You Treat Golf Elbow Symptoms?

If golf elbow kicks in during your round, stop, and head to the 19th hole. Order an ice pack and a stiff beverage from the bar. Soothe the swelling of your arm and rest until you regain the strength in your arm to swing a golf club.

If you are still in pain after self-medicating, it is time to head to the physio or your doctor to see what they recommend. 

How Do You Cure Golf Elbow?

It is advisable to make use of various stretching and conditioning programs to get your wrist strengthened. I would recommend talking to your physiotherapist to see what they recommend for your case.

However, here is an example of a simple exercise that you can do to begin your road to recovery. Hold out the painful arm, and point your fingers towards the ground. Then grip your fingertips with your other hand. Push upwards with your fingertips resisting the downward pressure of your other hand. Do three reps for 45 seconds, with 30-second intervals.

If you are fearing the worst, don’t. Surgery for golfers elbow is as rare as a fan at a 2020 live sports event.

Conclusion

Golf elbow is painful and uncomfortable, but it is not the end of your golfing career. As an astute golfer, it is wise to take some time off from the course, listen to your physio, and follow your exercise program religiously. 

Going forward, make sure you leave yourself enough time to warm up before heading to the first tee. 

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