[PHOTO: Kanawa_Studio]

You know that big bucket of balls you just hit? Not only was it probably a waste of $15 bucks if you’re trying to lower your scores, but all that punishment on your elbows can quickly turn into tendinitis. Whether it’s tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) on the outer part of the joint or golfers elbow (medial epicondylitis) on the inner part, that sharp, hot pain is not going to go away without some rest followed by some very specific exercises to prevent its return.

There are heaps of shoulder and forearm exercises designed to take stress off the ligaments that connect your upper and lower arm muscle tissue, but if you’re in pain right now and want to know exactly what to do about it, consider this prescription:

1. Rest and Rx: You first have to calm down the inflammation. Keeping the arm in a bent position as you sleep will help. So will compression sleeves and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (try not to drink if you’re using). Ice can help with acute pain, but it’s probably not going to speed up your recovery. Within a few days of going easy on your elbows, you should start to feel better and can move on to step two. If for some reason the pain is not subsiding, it’s time to see an orthopaedic doctor.


2. Strength training: As mentioned, exercises that focus on the muscles that surround the joint are always helpful in preventing future bouts. In golf, it’s smart to train your forearms and shoulders in all three planes of motion. The pronation/supination and extension/flexion of your arms is crucial to making a good golf swing. Perhaps the single best thing you can do for your elbows is to buy a Theraband Flexbar and work on doctor/trainer-recommended exercises. Anecdotally speaking, I’ve never found anything to be more effective. One caveat to all of this: if you come back too soon and push too hard in the gym, the inflammation might return as a result of the added stress. So progress patiently and incrementally.