The 6 Best Golfer's Elbow Exercises

Jul 18, 2023
golfer's elbow exercises

There are few things more frustrating than starting a beautiful day out on the green, only to be disrupted by a terrible pain in the elbow that seems to get worse with every swing. Golfer’s elbow can be frustrating, but it’s not a lost cause. This article will teach you more about the condition, and exercises for golfer’s elbow to help you play pain-free.

What Is Golfer’s Elbow?

Golfer’s elbow is characterized by pain and irritation around the bony part of the inside of the elbow, called the medial epicondyle. It is for this reason that the condition is medically termed medial epicondylitis, for it is usually inflammation in and around the tendon in this area that is causing pain.

The muscles in your forearm that help it flex (bringing the palm closer to the forearm) and pronate (turning the palm downwards) have a common tendon that they all merge onto called the medial common flexor tendon. It is this tendon, and the muscles connected to it, that are aggravated in the case of golfer’s elbow.

To rehab a chronic condition like this, we have to look at the root of the movements and associated loads that are causing it to occur. Golfer’s elbow is also often referred to as Pitcher’s Elbow because it tends to also occur in throwing athletes, and actually the majority of cases are workplace related; known to develop in carpenters, butchers, and plumbers, for example.

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Over 80% of golfer’s elbow cases happen in the dominant arm. Take a look at the golfer in the picture above. He is a right-handed player, and therefore his dominant arm is the right one. If we look at the position of his right arm here, we can start to understand why that elbow would be the one most affected.

The dominant shoulder initiates the swing to a large degree, and has to externally rotate and extend in order to get into the proper position. It is this positioning that is the first reason why swinging a club is so stressful on the dominant elbow, for it is placing that inner tendon under a tremendous amount of load and stretch.

From this stretched position, the dominant arm’s forearm flexors now have to produce a huge amount of force (producing force from a stretched position is one of the easiest ways to get injured). A golfer has to rapidly uncock his wrists to generate clubhead speed, while at the same time maintaining proper clubhead alignment at impact.

As the hips, lower body, torso, and shoulders initiate rotational movement during the downswing, the dominant arm acts as a link between the body's rotational power and the club. Undergoing multiple stretch and flex contractions of this type are often the underlying cause of golfer’s elbow.

Golfer’s elbow. (Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Other Factors 

Lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity have been shown to be heavily associated with medial epicondylitis. This makes sense, because being overweight and smoking are both incredibly detrimental to your health. It’s useful to think about overall tissue health when dealing with chronic injuries if we want to resolve such conditions and keep them from returning.

Golfer’s Elbow Exercises

Below you’ll find a selection of different golfer’s elbow exercises that train muscles in the forearm and shoulder through articulation of the wrist and arm. These will serve to create more balance in and around the inner elbow area where pain is generally felt. They can all be performed with a light set of dumbbells or even two soup cans!

Perform each exercise for time as opposed to the number of reps; try for 30-45 seconds per exercise (and per arm if only doing one arm at a time) for 3-4 sets. We want to focus on increasing blood flow into the tissues that surround the elbow and shoulder to encourage healing and durability. Doing high reps with low weight is an optimal way to achieve this.

If you’d like more comprehensive routines to improve your health and golf performance, join our community here at Dynamic Golfers by trying us out for 7-days, free of charge! Get on the road to pain-free, lifelong golfing today!

Wrist Flexion

 

Pronation/Supination

 

Wrist Extension

 

Radial/Ulnar Deviation

 

Supination Curl

 

Side Lying External Shoulder Rotation

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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