Hopefully the weather will continue to get warmer and we can start to get outside more for our sports and activities. With a bit of a lull in the cold in regards to workouts, returning after a break may lead to some growing pains as you adjust back into things.
Muscle pulls and tendonitis are very commonly seen in our office and are frustrating, especially if you have been motivated to return to the activity you’ve missed. Golfer’s elbow in particular (like tennis elbow) is not always associated with the sport it’s named after. This can be a spring time injury even without sports being a factor.
Golfer’s elbow is also known by a more technical name of medial epicondylitis. Where tennis elbow is characterized by the inflammation of the tendons on the outside of the elbow, golfer’s elbow comes with inflammation at the inside of the elbow. The tendons that become inflamed and irritated are associated with the muscles of the forearm that help us flex the wrist, rotate the forearm downward, and with gripping activities. Here are some common activities that involve these motions:
- Home Improvements (hammering, painting, etc)
- Rock Climbing
- Racket Sports
- Weight Lifting
- Throwing Sports
Our first recommendation will of course be physical therapy, but there are some things you can do on your own to first help calm down symptoms if they start up for you.
- Icing the area that is irritated at the inside of the elbow for 10-15 minutes. You can do this a few times a day if you are dealing with increasing pain, but try to keep the maximum to once an hour to really get the full benefits of the ice.
- Gentle stretching of the forearm muscles can help reduce the pull on the tendons. Pull so that the palm stretches away from the forearm. This can be done two different ways as shown in the two pictures. Either way is fine and doing both can be helpful if you can tolerate it. Be sure your elbow is straight for maximum pull. Hold 2×30 seconds and try to repeat it a few times throughout the day.
While this can be a simple overuse injury, your physical therapist can still be a very useful tool. If the pain does not calm down in a few days, it’s time to see your therapist for additional intervention and to be sure there is nothing else going on. It can also be very useful to figure out if there is a muscle imbalance somewhere that has caused the issue in the first place. We see this a good deal in sports that require full body movement with an instrument attached at the hands (golf, baseball, racket sports, bowling, etc). By fixing the muscle imbalance, we may be able to prevent it from happening again while treating you for the pain.