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Best Exercises for Golfer’s Elbow: Treatment & Prevention

Expert Tips Effective Exercises for Golfer's Elbow Relief


Swinging into action on the golf course can be a joy, but the pain in your elbow can quickly turn that joy into frustration. If you’re experiencing pain on the inner side of your elbow, you might be suffering from golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis). 

This blog post will equip you with the knowledge to tackle golfer’s elbow, including the best exercises for golfer’s elbow, treatment options, and important prevention tips to get you back on the green pain-free.

What is Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)?

Golfer’s elbow is a condition that causes pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow, near the bony bump. It occurs due to inflammation of the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow bone, particularly the tendons involved in wrist flexion and gripping motions. This elbow condition usually affects women and men equally, most commonly between the ages of 40 and 60. 

While less common than tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfer’s elbow can affect anyone who performs repetitive gripping motions, not just golfers. In a study of the United States military, the incidence rate for golfer’s elbow was 0.81 per 1000 person-years, emphasizing its prevalence even among active groups.

What are the symptoms?

The common signs and symptoms of golfer’s elbow is tenderness and pain on the inner side of the elbow, especially when gripping or twisting the wrist. You might also experience weakness in your forearm, making it difficult to hold objects or perform daily activities that require gripping strength.

Causes of Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

Several factors can contribute to golfer’s elbow:

  • Repetitive Stress: Overuse of the forearm muscles from activities like gripping a golf club can strain the tendons, leading to inflammation.
  • Improper Technique: Incorrect form while swinging a golf club or performing other activities can put unnecessary stress on the elbow joint and tendons.
  • Excessive Force: Gripping or swinging with excessive force can overload the tendons. This can cause micro-tears and inflammation.
  • Sudden Increase in Activity: Suddenly ramping up activity levels without proper conditioning can overwhelm the tendons, leading to golfer’s elbow.
  • Age and Lifestyle Factors: As we age, tendons lose elasticity, making them more susceptible to overuse injuries. Certain professions requiring repetitive gripping motions also increase the risk.
  • Lack of Equipment Adjustment: Incorrectly fitted golf clubs or using tools that don’t fit your hand size can contribute to improper technique and stress on the elbow.

Treatment Options

If you suspect golfer’s elbow, seeking medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment is important. Here’s an overview of treatment options:

Common Treatment Strategies

The initial focus is often on reducing inflammation and promoting healing. This may involve the RICE principle:

  • Rest: Reduce or eliminate activities that aggravate the pain.
  • Ice: Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  • Compression: Wearing a compression sleeve can provide support and reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevating the elbow above the heart can help minimize swelling.

Role of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays an important role in golfer’s elbow recovery. A physical therapist can:

  • Develop a personalized exercise program focusing on strengthening the forearm muscles and improving flexibility.
  • Utilize manual therapy techniques such as massage and joint mobilization to improve movement and reduce pain.
  • Educate you on proper posture and biomechanics to prevent future golf injuries.

Medical Treatments

In some cases, additional treatments might be recommended:

  • Medication: Anti-inflammatory medications can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections can provide targeted pain relief in severe cases.
  • Surgery: In rare instances, surgery might be necessary to repair damaged tendons.

Best Exercises for Golfer’s Elbow: Treatment

Best Exercises for Golfer's Elbow: Treatment

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have an injury.

Warm-Up Exercises

A proper warm-up is essential before diving into golfer’s elbow stretching and strengthening exercises. It increases blood flow to the area, preparing your muscles and tendons for activity and reducing the risk of further injury. Here are some gentle warm-up exercises:

  • Wrist circles: Make small circles with your wrists in both directions for 10 repetitions each.
  • Forearm stretches: Gently stretch your forearms by extending your arm outwards with your palm facing down. Use your other hand to pull your fingers back towards you, hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
  • Light arm swings: Perform gentle back-and-forth swings with both arms for 30 seconds.

Strengthening Exercises

These examples of exercises for golfer’s elbow target the muscles that support the elbow joint, promoting stability and reducing pain.

  • Strengthening Exercise 1: Wrist flexor stretch
  • Sit with your forearm resting on a table, palm facing up.
  • Hold a lightweight (water bottle or soup can) in your hand.
  • Slowly curl your wrist down, bringing your fingers towards you. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10-12 times on each arm.
  • Strengthening Exercise 2: Wrist extensor stretch
    • This exercise works the muscles on the backside of your forearm.
    • Sit with your forearm resting on a table, palm facing down.
    • Hold a lightweight in your hand.
    • Gently raise your hand back, extending your wrist as much as comfortably possible. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10-12 times on each arm.
  • Strengthening Exercise 3: Towel Twist
    • This exercise strengthens the forearm muscles involved in rotation.
    • Sit with a rolled-up towel placed flat on your lap.
    • Grip the ends of the towel with each hand, one palm facing up and the other facing down.
    • Slowly twist the towel in one direction, squeezing the towel with your hands. Hold for 2 seconds, then twist in the opposite direction. Repeat 10-12 times in each direction.

Flexibility Exercises

Improving flexibility in the forearm muscles and wrist joint can enhance the range of motion and reduce stiffness, aiding in recovery.

  • Flexibility Exercise 1: Elbow bend
    • This stretch targets the muscles in the front of your forearm.
    • Stand tall with your arm extended straight out in front of you, palm facing up.
    • Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers back towards you, bending your elbow slightly. You should feel a stretch in your forearm. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  • Flexibility Exercise 2: Wrist turn
    • This stretch focuses on improving wrist mobility.
    • Extend one arm straight out in front of you, palm facing down.
    • Use your other hand to gently turn your wrist down towards the floor, stretching the top of your forearm. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side and turn your wrist upwards for another 30-second hold.

How to incorporate these exercises into a daily routine

Aim to perform these exercises 2-3 times a day, 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions for each exercise. Remember, proper form is important to avoid further injury. Stop if you experience any pain and consult your healthcare professional.

Prevention Tips

The best defense against golfer’s elbow is prevention. Here are some key strategies:

Ergonomic Adjustments

  • Workplace Ergonomics: Ensure proper workstation setup to minimize strain on your forearms. Maintain good posture with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and wrists straight.
  • Proper Technique: Whether swinging a golf club or using tools, focus on proper technique to avoid placing unnecessary stress on your elbow joint. Seek professional guidance if needed.

Equipment Modifications

  • Sports Equipment: Use properly fitted sports equipment, especially golf clubs. Getting fitted ensures they align with your body mechanics and reduce stress on your elbows.
  • Protective Gear: Consider using wrist braces or sleeves for activities that involve repetitive gripping motions. These can provide support and help prevent overuse injuries.

Regular Stretching and Strength Training

  • Stretching: Regularly stretching your forearms and wrists can improve flexibility and reduce the risk of tightness that contributes to golfer’s elbow.
  • Strength Training: Building strength in your forearms and upper body can enhance stability and support your elbow joint, making it less susceptible to common elbow injury.

Recognizing Signs of Overuse

  • Early Symptoms: Be mindful of early signs of overuse, such as mild pain or tenderness in your elbow. Addressing these symptoms promptly can prevent a more serious injury.
  • Rest and Recovery: Don’t push through the pain. Schedule rest days and allow your body sufficient recovery time, especially after intense activities.

Listening to Your Body’s Signals

  • Pain as a Warning: Pain is your body’s way of communicating. If you experience elbow pain worse when playing a golf game or doing some activities, take it as a warning sign to modify your activity or seek professional help.
  • Seek Professional Help: Don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional if your pain persists or worsens despite implementing these strategies. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a faster healing process.

When to Return to Normal Activities

When to Return to Normal Activities

Resuming normal activities depends on the severity of your golfer’s elbow and your response to treatment. Here are some key points:

Knowing When It’s Safe to Resume Activities

Work with your healthcare professional to determine a safe timeline for returning to your regular activities. This typically involves gradual progression back to your usual routine.

The Role of Gradual Progression

Don’t jump back into strenuous activities too quickly. Start with low-impact exercises and gradually increase intensity and duration as your pain improves.

Tips for Modifying Activities

In the meantime, explore ways to modify your activities to minimize strain on your elbow. For example, use a lighter weight for exercises or take breaks more frequently during activities that involve repetitive gripping motions.

Get Back to Golf Pain-Free with Kendall’s Elbow Tips!

At Kendall Performance Physical Therapy, we understand the frustration golfer’s elbow can cause. Our team of physical therapists experienced in golf physical therapy can help you develop a personalized treatment and share valuable tips to help you get back on the green, pain-free. We offer various treatment options, including manual therapy, therapeutic exercise programs, and modalities like ultrasound to promote healing and improve flexibility.


Golfer’s elbow can sideline you from your favorite activities. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment, and preventive measures, you can effectively manage this painful condition and get back to enjoying an active life. Remember, consistency with exercises, proper form during activities, and listening to your body are key to a speedy golfer’s elbow recovery time and preventing future flare-ups.


What triggers golfer’s elbow?

Repetitive movements that involve gripping motions, improper technique during activities, and excessive force can all trigger golfer’s elbow. Age, certain professions, and lack of equipment adjustment can also increase the risk.

What makes golfer’s elbow worse?

Continuing activities that aggravate the pain, neglecting exercises, and improper form can worsen golfer’s elbow.

How long does golfer’s elbow take to heal?

Recovery time varies depending on the severity of the injury. With proper golfers elbow treatment plan and rest, it can take several weeks to months for complete healing.

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Dr. Christopher Kendall PT

Kendall Performance PT

We help athletes and active adults move better, live pain-free, and get stronger to improve the health of our community and provide each client the knowledge to remain healthy and independent the rest of their lives.