Spring is here, which means golfers around the country are getting ready for long, sunny days on the course. More golf means more fun, but as we age, it is hard not to notice the aches and pains that now accompany playing 18 holes.
Although your back and legs are common places to become sore after playing golf, the elbow – specifically the inside, or medial area – can be a huge source of discomfort. Taking repeated swings (and possibly with poor mechanics) can cause overuse in the muscles and tendons surrounding the elbow. This overuse creates pain and soreness on the inside part of your elbow, forearm, wrist and sometimes even your hand.
While golfers suffer from this problem enough to have it named after them, it is not only those who play golf that are susceptible to inner elbow soreness. Golfer’s elbow can develop in athletes who engage in throwing and swinging motions, or those who are flexing their wrist and gripping their hands for extended periods of time.
What if I Have Golfer’s Elbow Right Now?
Icing might sound like a good idea, especially since that’s what we’ve been taught to do our entire lives. Got a bruise? Ice it. Rolled your ankle? Ice it. Elbows sore after 18? You get the idea. But let’s stop to think about what ice and rest are actually doing.
Muscle activation is the key facilitator in setting off the chain of events that lead to muscle recovery. Tissues and tendons need fresh blood and nutrients to repair after breaking down. By resting the area and not moving, you’re actually delaying the delivery of nutrients. Furthermore, inactivity won’t produce nitric oxide, increase vasodilation, or engage the lymphatic system efficiently to flush waste and congestion.
Putting ice on the elbow might sound like a good idea to stop the pain, but a closer look might make you pause. Research shows that icing damaged tissue delays healing and may even make the situation worse.
How do I Prevent Golfer’s Elbow?
Let’s face it, as we get older our bodies don’t recover as quickly as they used to. It’s not as simple as just taking a day off and then feeling great the next day back on the course. It can take a lot longer to get back to normal and for those of us who have ongoing issues, we never really feel as good as we could. Having a proper post-golf recovery routine is important for not only feeling good, but also keeping our bodies healthy and robust.
Step 1: Active Recovery
You might not realize that the body’s recovery process is dependent on muscle movement. When we move, the multiple stages of recovery are activated and optimized. Engaging in light movements such as a short walk, jog, or swim can be referred to as active recovery. This movement shouldn’t be a full workout and cause additional fatigue, but should remain low-stress.
Marc Pro makes active recovery easy and effective by creating muscle activation without any additional stress or fatigue. You can use Marc Pro for as long as you need to ensure a complete recovery. Through non-fatiguing muscle activation, Marc Pro achieves active recovery that’s convenient and more effective than traditional techniques. This tool can be incorporated into everyday activities like working, relaxing on the couch, or traveling.
Step 2: Mobility Exercises
Mobility exercises play an important role in prevention of golfer’s elbow. When your elbows move with proper mechanics and maintain appropriate form, the chance of developing golfer’s elbow decreases. These mobility exercises from Dr. Kelly Starrett provide an effective strategy for preventing golfer’s elbow.
Step 3: Proper Hydration & Nutrition
Having a solid base of hydration and nutrition will allow your body to recover more efficiently. When the proper supplies are available, your body is able to adequately repair damaged tissue. Without the necessary supplies or a lack of supplies, the recovery process is delayed.
Step 4: Sleep
Your body undergoes many restorative functions during sleep. A lack of sleep means a lack of recovery. During the NREM stage, tissue growth and repair takes place. So if you cut your sleep short, your body won’t complete the rebuilding cycle. Make sure to dedicate enough time to sleep each night to get the recovery your body needs. Most adults need between 7-9 hours each night.
These four steps for golfer’s elbow prevention will help keep you doing the activities you love. Golfer’s elbow is preventable, even without having to decrease your activity levels. Take the time to recover and you’ll be good to go for the next round.