Golfer’s elbow exercises include both stretching and strengthening. In the early stages stretching is more important. As it is an overuse injury, overdoing the strengthening exercises too soon could slow or prevent the healing process. Here we explain the exercises which form part of Golfer’s elbow rehabilitation.
Golder’s elbow exercises – Stretching
Stretching is an important part of the rehabilitation process and should begin as soon as pain allows and be continued throughout the rehabilitation program and beyond.
Wrist flexor stretch
- Stretches for the wrist flexor muscles are the most important.
- Hold stretches for 10 – 15 seconds initially, especially during the acute stage.
- Later stretches should be held for up to 40 seconds.
- Repeat stretches 5 times and aims to stretch at least three times a day.
Golfer’s elbow exercises – strengthening
Strengthening exercises should also begin as soon as pain allows. This will depend on how bad your injury is. If it hurts during, after, or is worse the next day, then do not do strengthening exercises. Be patient! It is better to err on the side of caution and start later rather than too soon.
Isometric wrist flexion
Rest the forearm on a flat surface such as a table or bench with the palm facing up. Start with the wrist in an extended position (fingers pointing down).
Use the other hand to resist as you attempt to flex the wrist. There shouldn’t be any movement at the wrist.
Start at around 30% of your maximum effort. Hold this contraction for 5-10 seconds and then rest. Repeat 5-10 times.
Gradually increase the duration of the static contraction until you can manage 10 contractions of 10 seconds without pain.
Golfers elbow is an overuse injury so don’t overuse it with the rehab exercises and end up back to square one. Less is often more in this case.
Dynamic wrist flexion
This exercise specifically works the muscles involved in golfer’s elbow. Rest the arm on a flat surface, with the forearm and palm facing upwards.
Curl the weight up and down keeping the forearm and wrist still.
Start with 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily and build up gradually up to 3 sets of 30 reps.
Returning to full fitness
- This should be done gradually and begin only when you can perform the activity without pain.
- When you can comfortably manage the strengthening exercises then it may be possible to return to activity. If you are a thrower, ensure you have the correct technique. Wearing a brace can help take the strain off the elbow during the return to full fitness.
- For golfers, practice strokes without a ball to start with. Introduce a ball and gradually increase the power in shots and the number of practice shots played. For example session 1 – 20 strokes at 20% effort. Session 2 – 30 strokes at 40% effort and so on.
- This gradual increase should take place over a six-week period. If you find you have pain during, after or the next day then take a step back.
- Throughout this phase, it is essential that stretching and strengthening routines are maintained.
The following guidelines are for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any rehabilitation.
- Ciccotti MC, Schwartz MA, Ciccotti MG. Diagnosis and treatment of medial epicondylitis of the elbow. Clin Sports Med 2004;23(4):693–705.