Golfers elbow occurs when there is damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments around the elbow joint and forearm. Small tears, called micro tears, form in the tendons and muscles which control the movement of the forearm. They cause a restriction of movement, inflammation and pain. These micro tears eventually lead to the formation of scar tissue and calcium deposits. If untreated, this scar tissue and calcium deposits can put so much pressure on the muscles and nerves that they can cut off the blood flow and pinch the nerves responsible for controlling the muscles in the forearm.
By far the most common cause of golfers’ elbow is overuse. Any action which places a repetitive and prolonged strain on the forearm muscles, coupled with inadequate rest, will tend to strain and overwork those muscles. There are also many other causes, like a direct injury, such as a bump or fall onto the elbow. Poor technique will contribute to the condition, such as using ill-fitted equipment, like golf clubs, tennis racquets, work tools, etc. While poor levels of general fitness and conditioning will also contribute.
Wrist Flexor Stretch
- Stand facing a wall with your arms outstretched and palms facing up. Place your fingers on the wall pointing downwards. Slowly try to place your whole hand flat on the wall by extending the wrist
- Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times. Aim to stretch at least 3 times a day.
- Lie on the effected side with the elbow in line and your head resting on your palm. The stretch can be increased by placing something under the elbow to raise it up, which increases the amount the upper arm is lifted relative to the shoulder (abducted), or pressing the hand further back.
- Hold the stretch for only 5 seconds, repeat 5 times and aim to stretch at least 3 times a day.
- Rest the forearm on a flat surface such as a table or bench.
- Start with the wrist in a flexed position as shown.
- Use the other hand to resist as you attempt to extend the wrist.
- There shouldn’t be any movement at the wrist.
- Start at around 30% of your maximum force.
- Hold this contraction for 5-10 seconds and then rest. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Gradually increase the duration of the static contraction until you can manage 10 contractions of 10 seconds without pain.
- Move the back of the wrist towards your forearm. Again use the other hand to resist as you attempt to further extend your wrist.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 5-10 times. Gradually increase as above.
- Dynamic exercises can be performed using a light weight (about 1 kg). Perform wrist extension exercises first to ensure these are pain-free. After this, you can try wrist flexion which specifically works the muscles involved in golfers elbow.
- Rest the arm on a flat surface, with the forearm and palm facing downwards.
- Start in a fully flexed position (hand pointing down). Extend the wrist as shown.
- Start with 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily and build up gradually up to 3 sets of 30 reps.
- Turn the arm over so the palm is facing upwards.
- Start in a fully extended position (hand pointing down). Flex the wrist. Start with 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily and build up gradually up to 3 sets of 30.