If you’re an avid golfer dealing with the painful overuse injury known as tennis elbow, you can take steps to keep playing while managing your symptoms.
Lateral epicondylitis, which causes elbow tendon inflammation, can hinder the golf swing.
But with proper treatment approaches and adaptive techniques, you can modify your game to accommodate your tender elbows.
How To Avoid Tennis Elbow Pain While Playing Golf
While swinging a club with inflamed elbow tendons can be challenging, there are ways to adapt your game and care for your elbows so you can tee it up without pain.
Follow these 11 tips to golf comfortably despite tennis elbow:
- Wear an Elbow Brace or Tape
Elbow sleeves with compression pads or kinesiology tape offer support during play to stabilize the joint, reduce strain on tender tendons, and limit painful motions.
- Hold the Club Loosely
Avoid a tight, rigid grip on the club. Hold the club gently with your fingers to minimize tension through forearm muscles that strains elbow tendons.
- Limit Your Wrist Hinge
Restricting wrist cocking motion on the backswing protects elbows by reducing torque and awkward positioning. Keep swings compact.
- Swing Smoothly
Sudden acceleration or deceleration jars the elbows. Use smooth, rhythmic swings for fluid transitions that don’t jerk your elbows.
- Stay Flexible
Gently stretch and warm up your elbows before play. Flexibility reduces strain on muscles and tendons during the golf swing.
- Use Graphite Clubs
The lighter weight and shock absorption of graphite shafts compared to steel reduces impact vibration, decreasing elbow irritation.
- Apply Ice After Play
Icing elbows for 10-15 minutes post-round constricts blood vessels to control inflammation and tendon pain.
- Take Anti-Inflammatories
Over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium before golfing temporarily eases discomfort.
- Get Elbow Massages
Massage therapy increases blood flow, reduces muscle tightness, and mobilizes the elbow joints, providing relief.
- Try Supplements
Compounds like glucosamine and turmeric may help rebuild damaged tendon tissue and reduce inflammation.
- Strengthen Forearms
Building forearm muscle strength through resistance training and grippers takes workload off the elbow joints.
While tennis elbow can be annoying, you don’t have to sacrifice golf.
Using supportive gear, making swing adjustments, proper warm up and post-round care, medication, and other adaptive techniques allow you to work around elbow issues to keep playing pain-free.
What Golf Swing Motions Can Cause Tennis Elbow?
Repetitive golf swings that strain these tendons can lead to irritation and inflammation known as tennis elbow.
But what specifically about the golf swing causes problems for the elbows?
Several elements of the golf swing put particular tension on the elbow tendons, especially with improper mechanics:
- The motion of fully cocking or hinging the wrists on the backswing places a stretching force through the elbow tendons. Excessive wrist hinge on the backswing strains the elbows.
- An aggressive, jerky transition into the downswing can sharply jerk the elbow tendons at the point of sudden acceleration. Smooth, flowing swings are gentler on elbows.
- Hitting down forcefully through impact with tight elbows “locked” transmits jarring vibration into tender tendons. Letting the elbows slightly flex cushions impact.
- Twisting forearm motions to control the clubface with the wrists taxes the elbow. Limiting wrist action decreases elbow torque.
- Tight, rigid gripping of the club forces the elbows into strained positions. A relaxed grip minimizes elbow tension.
- Repetitive practice swings overload and fatigue elbow tendons without time to recover.
Optimizing swing mechanics, equipment fitting, and rest schedules can all help take unwanted stresses off elbow tendons vulnerable to tennis elbow.
Proper swing techniques that avoid hyperextending, jarring, and overusing the elbows reduce the risks.
Can You Still Play Golf With Tennis Elbow?
You can still enjoy golfing even if you have tennis elbow.
The first step is being evaluated by a doctor to diagnose that elbow pain is truly caused by tennis elbow instead of arthritis, nerve issues, or other injuries.
Once tennis elbow is confirmed, your doctor can offer treatment suggestions specific to continuing golf with this condition.
To golf with tennis elbow, focus on preventing further strain on the already irritated elbow tendons.
Using supportive braces or taping stabilizes the joint. Anti-inflammatory medication before playing can temporarily relieve pain.
Adaptations like larger grips for a looser hold and lightweight graphite clubs to reduce vibrations also make golf swings more elbow-friendly.
Take frequent breaks when playing 18 holes to give elbows a rest. Proper warm up and stretching before hitting the course loosens the joints and muscles.
Post-round care like icing to control inflammation is also important.
Furthermore, gently stretching the elbow and staying active with the joints can help recovery between golf outings.
While tennis elbow may hinder aspects of your game at first, implementing preventive measures and playing smarter allows you to enjoy golf without exacerbating elbow tendonitis.
With guidance from doctors and golf instructors, you can keep swinging pain-free.
Why An Elbow Brace Can Benefit You While Playing Golf
If you are a golfer dealing with lateral epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow, wearing an elbow support while playing can be extremely helpful to avoid aggravating your condition.
Here’s why using an elbow brace or compression sleeve is recommended:
- It reduces strain on the already inflamed and irritated tendons around the elbow joint that cause the characteristic pain of tennis elbow.
- The added compression gently supports and stabilizes the joint by keeping everything in proper alignment. This prevents excessive stretching or twisting motions that further damage the affected tendons.
- It enhances proprioception – your body’s sense of the elbow’s position in space. The added input on the joint’s movements improves control, allowing you to swing properly without overextending.
- It stimulates the sensory receptors around the joint to help block pain signals to the brain. This provides a temporary reduction in discomfort when swinging.
- It provides warmth to the elbow area which can loosen muscles, increase blood flow, and facilitate healing.
- It offers a reminder to consciously protect the elbow and avoid risky arm positions or movements during play.
- It can be worn during recovery periods off the golf course to promote healing faster.
The right elbow support should be breathable, comfortable, and allow a full range of motion while limiting painful extremes.
Using an elbow brace along with other measures like medication and swing changes enables you to continue golfing while recovering from tennis elbow.
While tennis elbow can certainly pose challenges for avid golfers, this painful condition does not have to force you to give up the sport entirely.
With a combination of preventive care, adaptive techniques, specialized equipment, injury treatment, and proper mechanics, it is absolutely still possible to play golf even when managing elbow tendonitis.
Don’t let tennis elbow keep you off the course!