Golfer’s Elbow 101:
When it comes to sports that involve gripping a racket or club or stick there are two common injuries that can occur in the arm; Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow. These injuries have been dubbed these names because of the sports in which they commonly occur but their incidents are not exclusive to those sports. Both of these injuries are brought on by overuse and excessive load placed through different structures in the forearm. The medical term for these injuries is commonly called tendinitis but, as we have discussed in a previous Health Tip Tuesday, the better term for them is tendinopathy which is more associated with tissue disrepair and overuse as opposed to a single acute event.
Golfer’s elbow is also called medial epicondylitis, or in other words, inflammation of the part of bone where the tendons that FLEX the wrist attach which is located on the inside of the elbow. The flexor pronator mass is a crucial group of muscles in the forearm responsible for the movements of wrist flexion and forearm pronation. Comprising the flexor carpi radialis, palmaris longus, flexor carpi ulnaris, and pronator teres muscles, this anatomical structure plays a pivotal role in everyday activities like gripping objects and turning your hand. These muscles share a common origin at the medial epicondyle of the humerus, which is the bony prominence on the inner side of the elbow. Their tendons attach to various points on the wrist, fingers, and forearm, allowing for a wide range of motions and contributing to overall upper limb functionality.
This is common in golfers when they swing and hit the ball and the force needs to be absorbed by the forearm but as said before this can occur during any exercise or sport where the forearm is worked excessively. This can happen during an excessive amount of curls or putting together a cabinet and using a screwdriver too much. This all leads to pain with gripping and pulling motions.
This issue can be treated with slow heavy load of the tendon via eccentric strengthening to get the tissue to remodel properly and improve the tendon tensile load strength and tolerance for exercise, sports, and of course golf. However, it must also be determined why it came about in the first place and what the reason was for this tissue being overloaded. Was it one day of really excessive work? Or was it moving incorrectly over time and causing excess strain where there shouldn’t be? These are questions we ask our patients during our evaluations for physical therapy and dictates our treatment progressions in their sports physical therapy lifecycle with us as athletes.
Check out this video on a manual therapy technique that we use to manage Golfer’s Elbow:
The Building Block for Strength and Fixing Golfer’s Elbow:
Eccentric strength refers to the controlled lengthening of a muscle while it’s under tension. Unlike concentric strength training, which involves the shortening of muscles, eccentric exercises can be particularly effective in rehabilitating injuries, such as golfer’s elbow. Here’s how it works:
Reducing Tendinopathy: Golfer’s elbow is often characterized by tendinopathy, which is the degeneration of the tendons that attach to the medial epicondyle. Eccentric exercises can stimulate tendon healing and regeneration. Slowly lowering weights or performing controlled wrist flexor exercises can help strengthen the tendons over time.
Overcoming Imbalances: One of the leading causes of golfer’s elbow is muscle imbalance. Eccentric training can correct this imbalance by targeting the weak wrist flexor muscles and building strength in the forearm and wrist, thus reducing the risk of injury.
Enhancing Muscle Endurance: Eccentric exercises can improve muscle endurance, which is vital for preventing overuse injuries like golfer’s elbow. Training your muscles to handle stress and strain can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing this condition.
Examples of eccentric exercises for golfer’s elbow include wrist flexor pronation, reverse curls, and eccentric wrist curls. It’s crucial to consult a physiotherapist or fitness professional for guidance on the right exercises and techniques to use.
Incorporating eccentric strength training into your fitness routine can be a game-changer for preventing and managing golfer’s elbow. However, patience and consistency are key. It’s essential to start with low weights and gradually increase resistance to avoid further injury.
Remember, addressing golfer’s elbow with eccentric strength training is not a quick fix, but it’s a reliable long-term solution. By strengthening the affected muscles and tendons, you can regain function and reduce pain, ultimately getting back to your favorite activities without worry.