Top 2 Reasons for Elbow Pain while Golfing

Elbow Pain while Golfing

• Hesitant to swing hard fearing elbow pain?
• Pain when lying on your elbow?
• Worse as you are on the computer?

Elbow pain while golfing is extremely common.

You are not alone in this. In fact, the next time you go to the driving range look up and down the line up…I bet you’ll see at least one person with a brace on their elbow.

Rehab and correction of elbow pain while golfing is pretty easy.

Here are the two major conditions golfers can get:

• Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
• Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)

In this article, I will go over some information about rehab, swing correction, therapy and how to golf again without elbow pain.

GOLFER’S ELBOW (MEDIAL EPICONDYLITIS)

What is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s Elbow is actually a tendon injury to the inner portion of the elbow.

The tendons that attach to this section of the elbow flex the wrist, curl the fingers and turn the hand palm down.

If any of these motions hurt, then you are partially confirming a diagnosis.

Golfer’s that develop medial elbow pain while golfing get it on the trail arm. It is not impossible to develop on the lead arm, but it is less common.

It is a more common problem for amateur golfers than the pros.

Elbow Pain while Golfing

How does Golfer’s Elbow create elbow pain while golfing?

Golfing, just like other rotational sports, can put you at high risk for overuse conditions.

Poor mechanics will accelerate the process.

When the flexor tendons are damaged from overuse and scar tissue formation, they are more easily reinjured.

In the trail arm elbow, impact with the ball or ground creates a quick yank on the tendon, which leads to irritation and further tearing.

How many swings do you take in a game of golf, including your warm up?

All of these impacts add up.

What golf swing mechanics are often seen to cause Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s Elbow is often seen with golfers who prematurely release the wrists during the downswing.

This type of swing fault has a few names:

• Casting
• Scooping
• Early Release

As of 2009, TPI assessed that 55.9% of amateurs have this issue.

If you were to shoot a picture of the moment of impact, you’d see the hands would be behind the club head, appearing to “scoop.”

This swing fault can occur a few different ways. Some have simply learned this way, while others develop it while attempting to recorrect from other, larger swing faults.

Are you trying to “lift the ball?”

This would be one of the major learned mannerisms. Remember, the clubs are designed to do the job. Let the club work for you.

• Are you often over the top?
• Is your clubface often open at impact?

These could be other reasons for overusing the wrists.

Wondering why scooping will lead to golfers elbow?

When swinging with your hands cupped, you are actually forcing the swing with the trail hand. Over time, this repeated, forced wrist flexion catches up with you creating elbow pain in the inner portion of the trail arm elbow.

In sports medicine, this is the definition of an overuse condition.

Maybe your reason for scooping is not learned, but rather a physical compensation?

Sure, that is possible as well.

Upper body compensation like this is normally the result of the lower body not doing its job. All of the following are reasons for lack of lower body function.

• Poor core, pelvic, or hip strength/power/stabilization
• Poor hip or ankle range of motion
• Poor balance

If any of these strike a cord, you should seriously considering improving them or your elbow pain while golfing will continue as soon as you start again.

How to rehab Golfer’s Elbow?

Elbow pain while golfing due to Medial Epicondylitis is not extremely hard to rehab.

We will need four things from you:

#1 Be willing to not golf (if need be)
#2 Utilize one or more of the treatments recommended in the following section
#3 Have your rehab goal be to make the muscle/tendon stronger
#4 Be willing to take a lesson

If you are able to do all four things, you will improve 90% of the time, usually within a month or so.

One of the exercises we recommend for elbow pain while golfing is an isometric one. This is an entry-level exercise.

Here is a video with tips to stop scooping, which will significantly decrease the mechanism of injury for Golfer’s Elbow.

What treatments are available for Golfer’s Elbow?

• Active Release Technique
• Deep tissue massage
• Instrument-assisted soft tissue techniques
• Anti-inflammatory injections
• Prolotherapy
• Chiropractic adjustments or mobilizations
• PRICE therapy

Here’s a video on an instrument-assisted technique for treating medial elbow pain while golfing.

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TENNIS ELBOW (LATERAL EPICONDYLITIS)

• Pain on the outer elbow?
• Worse when hitting the ball fat?
• Left sided elbow pain (right handed golfer)?

Tennis Elbow is extremely common in golfers on the lead side elbow.

If you cringe at impact anticipating your elbow pain, you’re not alone.

With the correct treatment, rehab and corrections to your swing, you can feel 95% better, even after just a month.

In this article, we will go over the treatment and rehab therapy for this type of elbow pain while golfing.

Elbow Pain while Golfing

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis Elbow is similar to Golfer’s Elbow, but it involves the muscles and tendons on the other side of the elbow.

The muscles that extend the fingers and wrist originate on the outer part of the elbow at the common extensor tendon. Another muscle that is often also affected is the supinator, which is responsible for turning your palm to the sky.

Repetitive tearing of the tendons attaching to the bony area (lateral epicondyle) gives it the name lateral epicondylitis or lateral epicondylosis.

What’s the difference?

One is a new injury in the area (epicondylitis), while the second is an old injury (epicondylosis) that just keeps reinjuring.

Repeated injury to the area allows scar tissue to form excessively and leads to reinjury.

Elbow Pain while Golfing

How does Tennis Elbow create elbow pain while golfing?

If scar tissue that is over a month old is present in the area with an injury, it is much more susceptible to tearing compared to the original tissue.

Hitting the ball fat or chunking it subjects the lead side extensor tendon to even more force than hitting the ball square.

Inconsistencies in your swing will reinjure Tennis Elbow even if we have proper treatment and rehab; so book a date with your golf pro now.

Tears lead to pain, swelling and an early exit from your day on the course.

Which golf swing mechanics most often cause Tennis Elbow?

Casting or scooping is again the major golf swing fault that you will commonly see with tennis elbow.

Here’s a great video on it. Sorry, the audio is low, but there is great information in there nonetheless.

You are probably overusing the left side (right handed golfer) to develop power.

Some sources say around 60% of the power in your swing should be developed from the right side. https://www.rotaryswing.com/golf-lessons-blog/how-to-prevent-golfers-elbow/

How to rehab Tennis Elbow?

Correction of lateral elbow pain while golfing is easy only when we have corrections to the swing.

If we have not corrected the faults in your golf swing, you may as well just get out your checkbook and sign a blank check over to your therapist.

Seriously! If you don’t correct the mechanism of injury, you should be prepared for lot of flare-ups after you play.

As for the rehab protocol, we like to start with some soft tissue techniques to decrease pain. This is covered the next section.

Rehab exercise usually starts with:

• Isometric exercise of the wrist extensors
• Shoulder blade stabilization exercise
• Thoracic spine mobility work
• Hip mobilization exercises

One isometric exercise for lateral elbow pain while golfing is below.

A beginner shoulder blade stabilization exercise I like is:

A midback mobility exercise I like to start golfers on is:

For hip mobilization, I like to start here:

What treatments are available for Tennis Elbow?

These are all very good treatments for decreasing elbow pain while golfing. But again, with out the correlated swing changes and rehab exercise, you should expect reinjury when you start to play again.

• Active Release Technique
• Deep tissue massage
• Instrument-assisted soft tissue techniques
• Anti-inflammatory injections
• Prolotherapy
• Chiropractic adjustments or mobilizations
• PRICE therapy

Here’s a video on how Active Release addresses elbow pain while golfing.


Here’s a video on an instrument-assisted technique for treating medial elbow pain while golfing.

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