GOLFER’S ELBOW – TWO OF THE MORE COMMON CAUSES AND POSSIBLE NEW TREATMENT OPTIONS

Bob Forman, M.S. Exercise Physiology
Certified Golf Fitness Instructor


Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, is the phrase used for discomfort on the medial or inside part of the elbow.  It literally is a pain due to the fact that the discomfort is usually slow to develop and can linger for quite some time.  Playing golf often worsens the condition and, for many, is the reason why they develop it in the first place. 

One common cause for elbow pain is a lack of mobility in the shoulder joint, particularly external rotation, which often leads to a swing fault known as chicken wing.  Chicken winging typically refers to the target side elbow, or left elbow for a right-handed golfer, and is characterized by the elbow bending and remaining close to the body as it slides around the back on the follow-through (easier to see with a slow motion video).   

external shoulder rotationTo check for external rotation of the shoulder, stand with your arm straight out to the side and bend your elbow 90 degrees, palm facing forward.  Without moving your upper arm, try rotating the forearm back as far as comfort permits without bending or arching your back.  The goal would be to get about 10 to 20 degrees of movement backwards with the forearm.  If you can’t budge from the starting position or if you can’t even get to the 90 degree starting position, your external rotation is limited. 

If this occurs in your target arm you may be chicken winging.  If it occurs in the trail arm, right arm for a right-handed golfer, you could have that flying elbow in your backswing, a limited backswing, a swing plane change in your backswing, and/or it may force you into reverse spine.  Limited shoulder range of motion on either side increases the potential for tendonitis or other injury in the respective elbow joint.

One of the better exercises to help increase range of motion in the shoulder is the Open Book.  When performing this exercise, it is recommended to use light weight, no more than 2 or 3 lbs.  Too much weight can cause injury and should be avoided.           

Another possible cause for elbow pain may be from the imbalance many of us have in the forearm muscle groups.  Due to the fact that we are constantly gripping things, our flexors on the underside of the forearm tend to be stronger than our extensors on the top of the forearm.  This imbalance sets a person up for problems in the elbow joint, as well as the wrist.   

golf fitnessPlaying a repetitive sport like golf can aggravate the imbalance.  Moving the wrists in several different planes, while gripping the club during the swing, can wreak havoc on either or both the elbows and wrists.  Swinging the club 100 to 200 times during a round, including practice swings, and the result can often lead-up to the development of chronic pain. 

A good exercise to help regain some of the balance is the finger extension.  Close your fingers together and place a rubber band around the last knuckles.  Slowly open and close the fingers in a rhythmic fashion  till fatigue is felt in the golf fitnessforearm (about 20 to 30 reps).  The size of the rubber band will dictate the resistance, so start somewhat thin and work up to thicker bands.  

If experiencing forearm pain, a forearm band can be worn to help reduce some of the stress to the joint while playing golf, exercising and/or just being physically active.  These can be purchased in most drug stores.  Icing the area after the activity is always a good idea, as well, to help retard the inflammatory process.    

A good stretching routine and some mild strength exercises will help alleviate and/or prevent elbow pain.  These should focus on improving the range of motion in the shoulder joint and diminishing the imbalance that may exist in the forearm.  A qualified golf fitness instructor can assess and design a program for you.  Be careful, though, if you already experience discomfort as elbow pain is a tender condition and could be further irritated with exercise.  It might be a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider if the condition already exists.

 

Some new treatment options appear to be showing up on the radar screen that could prove helpful.  These include prolotherapy, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy, and stem cell therapy.


Prolotherapy involves repeated injections of a dextrose (sugar) solution into the tendon, which acts to irritate the tendon, thereby provoking the body to send additional healing substances to the area.  PRP is a little more aggressive in that your own blood is drawn and spun, removing the healing platelets and injecting them back into the injury site.  Finally, stem cell therapy is the harvesting of your own stem cells, usually from your hip, and injecting them back into the injured tissue.  


My recommendation would be to contact your healthcare provider to learn more about these treatment options as we are starting to hear more about them.  One of these could be a viable alternative for you and may help you get relief sooner from the chronic.discomfort.  That, too, could help you get back out onto the golf course quicker.

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH

Quad-Hip Flexor Stretch

This is a progressive stretch for the quad-hip flexor area.  Be cautious as you lean back on the bench as it will challenge the knee if the quads are tight.  Avoid this stretch if you've had knee replacement.  Tight quads/hip flexors will impede hip mobility and that may rob you of power and distance.

 

 

Check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

GOLF FITNESS
ASSESSMENT & TRAINING


A quality, customized golf fitness program will. . .
  • Enhance swing efficiency
  • Increase distance
  • Improve playing performance and satisfaction
  • Identify and correct golf-specific injury triggers

    All for much less than what another brand new driver that's going to "fix my game" would cost
     
click here for details

  


The golf exercises are going great.  I am hitting the ball the best I have ever hit it.  My back pain has gone away also. 
 
David R. 

more testimonials

HOST A WORKSHOP

If your Club or organization would like to host an informative golf fitness workshop, contact Bob at bob@golfitcarolina.com or 336-509-4610.

Bob came to my club and did a hour long session on the basics of his teaching and philosophy of fitness and how it relates to the golf swing and its performance.  My members thoroughly enjoyed the hour and wanted more.  I was impressed with his content and explanation.  My members were floored with his Q&A and his personal adaptation to their issues.  I was impressed with his interaction with attendants of the seminar.  If you are looking for someone to integrate your fitness program with the golf program, Bob is the guy to do it!  We will be booking Bob to come back to our club next spring.
Shannon Howell, PGA Head Golf Professional
Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC


"Bob Forman was fabulous!  He is a great presenter who shared some extremely valuable information related to how anatomical deficiencies such as: poor posture, flexibility, and balance impact our golf swing.  He not only shared what they are and how they impact the swing, but also demonstrated exercises to help correct them."
Ellen Gregory
EWGA-Wilmington, NC chapter

“Westchester is one of the Country’s largest private clubs with a membership that has high expectations for service and performance.  Bob Forman’s seminar on golf specific fitness and flexibility was extremely well received and motivated many of my members to begin a program of evaluation, exercise and follow-ups.  I highly recommend Bob for his knowledge, energy , and ability to connect with amateurs concerning golf fitness.” 
John Kennedy, Director of Golf
Westchester CC, 
Harrison, NY

Bob has a fantastic ability to understand and combine his expertise of the physical complexities of the human body with the PGA Professional’s trained eye with respect to the complexities of the golf swing.  Bob offers a refreshing angle that most amateur and professional golfers can understand and embrace.  Many times, a golfer will have physical limitations that prevents him or her from moving the way the PGA Professional is trying to instruct.  Bob can take the golfer’s weakest physical traits and focus a training program to better overcome those obstacles and allow the golfers to ultimately improve their swing. 
Dennis Nicholl, PGA Head Golf Professional
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Functional Golf Fitness Training is a comprehensive player improvement resource for golfers of all ages and levels, teaching professionals and coaches.  
A great manual for golf teams as well.  

Dedicated chapters on:
- the common physical deficiencies most golfers have, how to detect and correct with over 40 golf-specific exercises and drills
- preventing/alleviating the #1 injury in golf, low back injury
- how to fix the more common swing faults 
- how to put together an inexpensive home gym

Amazon reviews:

"Very clear explanations of causes and fixes for main physical deficiencies affecting golfers. Easy to follow instructions. While other books may give a whole laundry list of exercises that end up not being used, Forman has selected a few for each issue and puts together a program that doesn't take long to do"

"This book not only tells you what to do but also why you need to do and what results you can expect.
I have every book in print about golf fitness and this book is by far the best."


Available in print at TheBookPatch

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or as an ebook on Amazon

Go to
http://www.amazon.com/Functional-Golf-Fitness-Training-ebook/dp/B00FH88Q0Q

SWING FAULT PHYSIOLOGY

Swing mechanics are often influenced by physical deficiencies in the golfer's body.  Below are some of the more common swing faults, their physical causes and how to correct.

GOLF POSTURE

S-POSTURE AND LOW BACK PAIN

EARLY EXTENSION

SWAY & SLIDE

REVERSE SPINE

While correcting the deficiencies, you also need to rewire the brain-body connection in order to break out of the inefficient swing pattern.  

REWIRE THE BAD SWING HABIT

RADIO / PODCASTS

 

 
June 22, 2017
(go to 1:10:00 into the show)
golf posture, muscle imbalance, improving distance, stretching, hydration, Tiger and specialization, Rory and weight lifting



March 14, 2015
(go to 1:08:00 into the show)
fitness vs. golf fitness, strength training and slowing down the aging process, C and S-postures,  


August 28, 2014
We talk about Shan's golf fitness assessment results

 


June 26, 2014


scroll down to 9/9/2013
(go to 23:15 into the show)
back injury