What does tennis elbow have to do with golf? Is it caused by a new-fangled golf swing that incorporates the tennis swing into the golf swing?
No, tennis elbow is a “catch-all” term, meaning pain or inflammation located on the outside of the elbow. More specifically, tennis elbow refers to the inflammation of the extensors muscles in the forearm that attach at the elbow joint.
In fact, injury to the outer elbow area is quite common in golfers. This pain is usually caused by forces which exceed the capabilities of the forearm muscles. Golfers can also experience a related condition, called golfer’s elbow. The difference is in the area of inflammation.
One possible cause may be your golf swing. Some types of golf swing flaws put excessive amount of tension on the outer elbow region. If you feel there is an error in your swing, check out the golf tips section of this golf instruction website for some well-needed assistance. You may also need help from your local PGA pro for proper club fitting and sizing (ie: type of shaft, grip width, length of shaft,etc.). Improper sizing of one’s clubs can increase the likelihood of elbow pain.
Another possible source of lateral (outside) elbow pain is muscle weakness. This is very evident when a golfer significantly increases the amount of ball striking in a session. This excessive amount of stress to the forearm muscles then leads to inflamation and pain in the elbow.
So what do I do?
First and foremost, with any type of acute inflammation, application of ice for 15 minutes every hour for the first 48 hours is recommended. Also use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Always remember the old adage ” No pain-No gain” does not apply here! Perceiving muscle fatigue is O.K. but if the exercises cause a sharp pain or ache, stop immediately and see your physician.
Strengthen the forearm extensors muscles
Take a wide rubber band and place the nails of your thumb, index, third and fourth fingers against the rubber band. Now just spread your fingers apart. Try three sets of 20 repetitions with a minute rest in between sets.
Extend your arms straight in front of you. Then quickly and fully open and close your hands for 30 seconds. Rest one minute and repeat this cycle two more times.
Start this exercise with both arms fully extended in front of you and then slowly raise your wrist up and down for 30 seconds. Rest one minute and repeat two more times.
Flexibility and Stretching
To perform this golf stretching exercise, place the back of your hand against a wall then slowly move toward the wall to cause a bend in your wrist. Then slowly rotate your body away from your hand and gently bend your head away sideways until you feel a gentle stretch in the top of your forearm and/or left neck muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and remember not to bounce while stretching. Note: If you have previous neck problems, check with your doctor first before attempting. Also if you experience sharp pain or unremitting pain while stretching, stop immediately and see your physician.
Even if you are not experiencing tennis elbow while playing golf, practice these exercises and tips. Not only will it prevent tennis elbow, but it will also improve your golf game!