Preventing Golfer’s Elbow

playing golf in a bunker

I was 16 when I first experienced golfer’s elbow.

Truth be told… it was actually tennis elbow. I was using a new racket which weighted more than 400 grams (extremely heavy for tennis) and hurt myself pretty bad as a result.

Generally speaking, sports that involve strong elbow movements may cause elbow issues. This is the case for golf, frisbee golf, tennie and baseball.

In this article, I will talk about golfer’s elbow specifically and eventually give you tips on how to prevent it from setting you back from improving your game.

What is golfer’s elbow?

Can you feel that excruciating pain in your forearm after playing golf?

If the pain is located around the tendons that insert inside of your elbow, you may be suffering from  golfer’s elbow.

Here is an illustration showing where pain related to golfer’s elbow usually manifests itself:

golfers elbow

Golfer’s elbow should not be confused with tennis elbow, which is caused by playing tennis (duh).

Tennis elbow is different in that it tends to affect the outside of the arm as well as the inside. 

There are other cues to look for in order to determine whether your pain stems from golf. Let’s take a deeper look at the symptoms of golfer’s elbow.

The symptoms associated with golfer’s elbow

Before rushing to conclusions, it is better to take a look at the pains you are experiencing, in order to take proper action.

Your best option is to go to your GP. It will usually take a simple physical examination to determine what the source of the issue is. In some cases, other tests (ultrasounds, x-rays or MRIs) may be required.

With that being said, here are a few things to look for.

1. Pain

People who suffer from golfer’s elbow typically have some sort of pain around their inner elbow, as well as around the wrist and forearm regions. 

The pain may appear after a sudden tear, for example after a happy Gilmore swing or a violent drive. It may also appear after repeating certain movement patterns.

Typically, you will feel some pain when doing things such as:

  • Opening a door
  • Moving your wrist
  • Firm handshakes
  • Any sport that involves forearms and wrists

2. Swelling

In some cases, the injured tendon may cause some swelling. This is a normal reaction to have a few days after the injury. If the swelling is still there after multiple weeks, you should probably talk about it with a doctor.

3. Other things to look for

Generally speaking, people suffering from golfer’s elbow will find it painful to perform tasks that involve the muscles of the forearm. Anything that involves some type of wrist movement may be painful if you are suffering from golfer’s elbow.

Prevention

  • don’t let your arms take all the shock during your swing.
  • beware of heavy golf clubs made out of iron.
  • try to rest after playing and don’t play right after the gym, or an intense sports sessions.
  • in the long term, you can make your tendons more resistant by strengthening your forearms. Pull-ups and bicep curls can help you with that.
  • warm up properly before playing.
  • whether or not you should stretch before playing is a point of contention. I personally only do dynamic stretches and avoid static stretches.


Conclusion

Preventing golfer’s elbow is all about making sure that your forearms are being used correctly when playing sports as well as when performing everyday movements. Do the things I outlined above and you should be fine.

In my case, I injured my elbow because I used a tennis racket that was way too heavy even though I was only 16.

I should add that golfer’s elbow takes a long time to heal. You will be able to play after a few weeks, but the pain will come back for many years, and will eventually fade away.