Golfer Elbow: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Preventing Golfer’s Elbow: Tips for Injury Prevention in Golfers

Tennis Elbow

Golf is a beloved sport enjoyed by millions worldwide. The thrill of taking precise swings, the camaraderie with fellow golfers, and the serenity of lush green fairways make it an attractive pastime. However, like any physical activity, golf comes with its fair share of risks, and one common injury that golfers face is Golfer's Elbow. This condition, medically known as medial epicondylitis, can cause discomfort, hinder your golfing performance, and even lead to prolonged downtime. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the common causes and symptoms of Golfer's Elbow, delve into the intricate anatomy of the elbow, as well as highlight valuable techniques to safeguard your elbow during golfing sessions. Additionally, we will touch upon Tennis Elbow, a similar condition often mistaken for Golfer's Elbow, and outline prevention strategies for both injuries.

Understanding Golfer's Elbow

Golfer's Elbow is a condition characterized by pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow, where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump (medial epicondyle). Despite its name, Golfer's Elbow can affect anyone who repeatedly uses their forearm muscles, not just golfers. The golf swing places tremendous strain on the forearm muscles, especially during the downswing and impact phases. Common causes of this injury include:

    1. Overuse: Frequent and forceful use of the wrist and forearm muscles, such as during golf swings, can strain the tendons, leading to Golfer's Elbow.

    2. Incorrect Technique: Poor form during golf swings or improper grip can place excessive stress on the elbow, contributing to the development of this condition.

    3. Lack of Warm-up: Failing to warm up properly before a game can increase the risk of Golfer's Elbow, as cold muscles are more susceptible to injury.

    4. Age and Repetitive Activities: As we age, tendons may become less flexible, making them more susceptible to injuries like Golfer's Elbow. Repetitive actions can exacerbate this risk.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Golfer's Elbow typically presents with specific symptoms, which, if identified early, can aid in prompt treatment. Common indicators include:

     1. Pain and Tenderness: Discomfort or tenderness on the inner side of the elbow, which may radiate to the forearm.

    2. Stiffness: The affected elbow may feel stiff, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

    3. Weakness: Weakened grip strength, making it difficult to perform certain golf swings or everyday tasks.

    4. Numbness or Tingling: Some individuals may experience tingling or numbness in the fingers, a symptom linked to nerve involvement.

Prevention Techniques for Golfer's Elbow

Preventing Golfer's Elbow involves a combination of proactive measures to protect your elbow during golfing sessions. By incorporating these techniques into your routine, you can reduce the risk of injury and enjoy the game pain-free:

    1. Warm-up: Prioritize a thorough warm-up routine before hitting the greens. Gentle stretches and exercises that focus on the forearm muscles will prepare them for the demands of your swing. Consider performing wrist flexor stretches, forearm pronation and supination exercises, and grip strengthening exercises.

    2. Proper Technique: Seek guidance from a golf professional to ensure your swing technique and grip are correct. Using the right form will reduce strain on your elbow and improve your overall performance. Proper body alignment, shoulder rotation, and wrist hinge are vital aspects of an efficient golf swing.

golfers elbow

    3. Strength Training: Incorporate targeted strength training exercises for the forearm muscles to enhance their endurance and resilience. Resistance exercises such as wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and forearm squeezes can help build strength in the muscles surrounding the elbow.

    4. Rest and Recovery: Allow sufficient time for rest and recovery between games. Overtraining can exacerbate existing injuries or increase the likelihood of developing new ones. Take breaks during long practice sessions and alternate golf days with other low-impact activities to give your elbow time to heal.

    5. Ice and Compression: If you experience any discomfort after a game, apply ice to the affected area and use compression to reduce inflammation. The R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is a widely recognized technique for managing acute injuries and inflammation.

    6. Elbow Bracing: Consider using an elbow brace or strap during golfing to provide support to the tendons and reduce stress on the medial epicondyle. Discuss with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable type of brace for your needs.

    7. Golf Equipment Check: Ensure that your golf clubs are fitted properly to your height and swing mechanics. Ill-fitted clubs can place additional strain on your joints and contribute to injuries.

    8. Flexibility and Mobility: Maintain good overall flexibility and mobility through regular stretching and exercises. Yoga and Pilates are excellent options to improve flexibility, core stability, and body awareness.

    9. Warm-down: After your game or practice session, perform gentle cool-down exercises and stretches to release tension in the forearm muscles and promote blood flow to aid in recovery.

    10. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any discomfort or pain in your elbow and address it promptly. If pain persists or worsens, seek advice from a healthcare professional specializing in sports medicine.

Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer's Elbow

Tennis Elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition similar to Golfer's Elbow but affects the outer side of the elbow. While both injuries are caused by overuse and repetitive motions, the affected tendons differ. In Tennis Elbow, the extensor tendons on the outer side of the forearm become inflamed, leading to pain and discomfort. To distinguish between the two:

1. Location of Pain: In Golfer's Elbow, the pain is on the inner side of the elbow, while in Tennis Elbow, it is on the outer side.

2. Affected Activities: Golfers may experience pain during swings and gripping objects, while tennis players may feel discomfort during backhand shots.

Prevention Techniques for Tennis Elbow

Though similar in nature, Tennis Elbow requires distinct preventive measures. To safeguard against this condition, consider the following strategies:

1. Forearm Strengthening: Engage in exercises that target the extensor muscles to strengthen and protect them during tennis matches. Some exercises include wrist extensor curls, wrist extensions with resistance bands, and fingertip push-ups.

2. Proper Equipment: Ensure your tennis racket is appropriately sized and has the right grip to minimize stress on the forearm. Gripping the racket too tightly or using a racket with a small grip can contribute to Tennis Elbow.

3. Technique Adjustment: Work with a coach to improve your tennis stroke technique and reduce strain on the elbow. Emphasize proper wrist position and use a two-handed backhand to lessen the load on the dominant arm.


Golfer's Elbow and Tennis Elbow are common overuse injuries that can affect athletes' performance and enjoyment in their respective sports. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and prevention techniques for these conditions, golfers and tennis players can take proactive measures to protect their elbows and continue to excel in their favorite games. Implementing warm-up exercises, strength training, and adopting proper techniques are essential components of an injury prevention routine. Should persistent pain or discomfort arise, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals specializing in sports medicine is essential for accurate diagnosis and tennis elbow treatment. By prioritizing elbow health and taking the necessary precautions, athletes can maintain their passion for golf and tennis while minimizing the risk of injuries.