Golfers’ elbow and tips for Ryder Cup fans

Having recently been glued to the Ryder Cup, it seemed like a sensible time to look at a common injury we see from those who enjoy spending time on the course. Elbow pain.

Elbow pain isn’t exclusive to golfers or even sporting types, it can happen as a result of spending too long typing at a computer just as much as it can happen after a round of golf.

The first thing to point out is that, despite the name, golfers are much more likely to suffer from tennis elbow than golfers’ elbow!

[The difference is in how we use the muscles and tendons in our wrist and elbow. The common symptoms will be pain when trying to grip or when flexing the wrist, or a pain on the outside of the elbow]

The difference between the two is simply the source of the muscles and tendons that are causing the problem.

A number of the muscles that bend back the wrist and fingers arise from the outside of your elbow via the common extensor tendon which attaches to the common extensors’ origin (CEO). When these are overused over a prolonged period or are subjected to a significant increase in unaccustomed activity, pain can result towards the CEO on the outside of the elbow. This is tennis elbow.
For the golfers’ version, it’s the muscles that bend the wrist and fingers originating from the common flexors’ origin (CFO). In the same way that the extensor muscles can become painful when overused, the flexors can do the same.

So what can you do to prevent this happening?

Well firstly the videos above will give you some easy exercises to do at home. However if you’re suffering from one of these issues already then we strongly recommend you speak to your local physio. The recovery can be lengthy but it’s something that needs attention and often won’t get better simply by rest. The pain can also be originating from elsewhere, such as referred pain from the neck, so it’s important to get it checked out.

Avoiding these problems in the first place comes down to the use of sensible strengthening exercises like the ones above and in gradually building up to any new physical activity. The exercises listed in this post provide a good (albeit quite detailed) starting point and it’s these sorts of exercises that can really help not just avoiding injury, but improving your performance too.


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