Elbow pain is one of the most common types of injuries in golf, and quite often the problem is how you’re approaching impact with the ball. Interestingly, players of different skill levels will tend to feel pain in different parts of the elbow. First, let’s discuss some basic terminology and anatomy of the elbow.
With the palm facing up, pain on the outside of the elbow (thumb side), sometimes referred to as tennis elbow, is lateral epicondylitis. Pain on the inside is referred to as medial epicondylitis. If in your golf swing, you make impact with the ball with a forward shaft lean, that will tend to cause pain on the outside of the trail elbow and the inside of the lead elbow. If you flip your club, you’ll have the reverse effect; pain on the inside of the trail elbow and outside of the lead elbow. These injuries are especially likely if your shoulder muscles aren’t very stable. These aren’t the only reasons why you might have elbow pain, but we find that in golfers, they’re the most common explanation.
Regardless of the source of the injury, if the tissue is unhealthy, a golf ball is a great tool to help rehabilitate elbow pain. For outside elbow pain, use the golf ball on the outside of your arm to massage side to side both above and below the joint. For inside elbow pain, do the same, just on the inside of the arm.
Regardless of which location you’re massaging, if you find a spot that particularly hurts to bear down on, focus on massaging that spot and particularly keep the pressure still while you move your wrist up and down and side to side to strip the fascia and muscles to break of restrictions. Once the tissue is healthy and no longer hurts, it’s important to then strengthen the elbow to prevent further injury. Eccentric exercises are the best way to do this for the elbow in particular…check out one of our articles on eccentric exercise for more detail on this!