Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. The information contained in this article is not to be construed as medical advice. This article is written for informational purposes only. If you have any pain in your elbow, be sure to see a licensed physician.
I am writing this article in hopes it will help others in their quest heal their golfers elbow. The goal is to not only heal your elbow, but to strengthen the muscles and tendons to prevent future problems.
I first noticed a pain on the inside of my elbow when I was lowering the barbell from the squat position in a cage. I usually didn't remove all the weight from the barbell when I lower it, and this time I felt a sharp pain one the inside (medial) part of my elbow. I didn't think too much of it as minor pains are usually common when training heavy, so I ignored it and continued to train with the slight discomfort. After a few weeks I noticed the pain progressed and was now present during normal daily activities and especially when playing the guitar and drums. It was at this point I decided I needed to take the time to rehabilitate my golfers elbow.
Golfers elbow is caused be repetitive or excessive stress, and it's my opinion that one should approach it as they do any other injury. My approach is straight forward without any type of special treatments.
REMEMBER: You do not have to progress at the same speed. You may need to spend an extra week or two in each step depending on your situation. Only progress when you notice the pain as subsided.
Step One, Week 1: Complete Rest and Ice
During the first week of my rehabilitation, I let my elbow rest while I used ice every 15 minutes, a couple times each day to reduce inflammation. I also purchased a band-it forearm band. The bandIt seemed to relieve the pain, but I am not sure it did much else. It's cheap if you want to try it, and you can't really go wrong trying it. Just make sure you do not over tighten it, it's supposed to be fairly loose.
Step Two, Weeks 2 and 3: Ice and Stretching
Here is where you get to start taking an active role in your rehab. I started performing stretches like the ones you see here: http://pinnaclechandler.com/pptblog/simply-stretches-to-help-prevent-golfers-elbow/ . In addition to these, I also started performing the following stretches:
I performed these stretches about 4 to 5 times every day.
Step Three, Week 4: Ice, Stretching, and Target Specific Exercises:
Here is where I started to focus on conditioning the muscles and tenons of the wrist. I started with a few simple exercises, and I only suggest you perform the ones which cause no discomfort and you can use as little or no weight if needed. The important thing is to be able to perform the exercises without any discomfort in your elbow!
The first wrist exercise is to take a dumbbell or barbell and hold it in your hands with your palms facing up. Perform as many reps as you can without discomfort as follows:
Perform 1 set and then reverse your grip (palms facing down) and repeat. Next, grab two light dumbbells, rest them on your legs like you did in the last exercise and simply rotate your hands as if you are turning a door knob. Again, perform as many reps as you can without discomfort. You can even use a hammer and perform exercises as if you are hammering a nail, with your arms on your knees as shown in the photo above.
Step Four, Weeks 5, 6, and Beyond: Occasional Ice, Stretching, Target Specific Exercises, and Strength Training:
If you are not someone who exercises regularly, you can probably continue the prior step until you are healed, which should take much longer at this point, at least it didn't for me. If you are a strength trainer, then you can now start training again. It's very, very important to train extremely light and to avoid any and all exercises that aggravate your elbow. For me, I had to avoid bicep curls for a few weeks before I could go back to training them, but now I am back to full health and no pain! Remember, start light with high repetitions to strengthen your tendons as well as your muscles. Only use ice if you get that occasional pain, and make sure to continue your stretching.
I would go so far as to continue your stretches and make them a part of your daily training program. I hope you found this article helpful and I hope it allows you to get back to training at 100% again. If you have anything to add, please feel free to join and leave a comment in the box below.