Golfer’s elbow: Strengthening and stretching exercises

Photo of a man holding his elbow
PantherMedia / imagepointfr

People who have golfer’s elbow can do special stretching and strengthening exercises to try to make the symptoms go away quicker. As shown in the following examples, the exercises are easy to do and fit into everyday life.

In most cases, the symptoms of golfer’s elbow go away within one year without any special treatment. To try to make them go away sooner, people can do stretching and strengthening exercises. The aim of “eccentric” exercises is to strengthen the flexor muscles in the forearm. These are the muscles that are used when hitting a golf ball or rowing a boat, for instance. Regular stretching is also often recommended, although it’s not yet clear whether it helps.

You can talk to your or doctor about which exercises are most suitable for you.

What are eccentric exercises?

Muscle-strengthening exercises can generally be divided up into concentric and eccentric exercises. In concentric exercises, the muscle contracts (tightens) – and in eccentric exercises, the muscle relaxes. One example of a concentric exercise is holding a weight in your hand and pulling it up towards your body. Gradually lowering the weight again is an eccentric exercise. Slowly working against gravity like this strengthens the muscles.

Eccentric exercises strengthen the muscles that are used when hitting a golf ball, for instance.

Eccentric strengthening exercises: An example

  1. Hold a weight in your hand (on the side of your body that is affected) and sit down.
  2. Rest your arm on your thigh, with your palm facing upwards. Your elbow should be bent and your wrist stretched.
  3. Gradually lower the hand with the weight in it.
  4. Use your free hand to help move the weight back to its original position.
  5. Repeat about 10 to 15 times.
  6. After a short break, repeat this set of exercises two more times.

Animation: Strengthening exercise for golfer’s elbow

Strengthening exercise for golfer’s elbow

It’s important not to use heavy weights. The weight should be about 30% of the maximum weight you can hold. Slight pain is okay, but you shouldn’t put too much strain on the arm.

Stretching

The aim of stretching exercises is to stretch the wrist flexor muscles in the forearm. These exercises are recommended in order to improve the mobility (range of movement) of the arm and wrist. They can either be done actively or passively. By “actively,” we mean you do them yourself. In passive exercises, the or training partner stretches that part of the body for you.

Example:

  1. Stretch the affected arm out in front of you, with your palm facing upwards.
  2. Relax your wrist, allowing your hand to rest and fall back.
  3. Using your other hand, pull the affected hand back and towards your body.
  4. Hold the stretch for about 30 to 45 seconds.
  5. Have a break (about 30 seconds).
  6. Repeat three times.

People are advised to do these stretching exercises about twice a day.

Illustration: Stretching exercise for golfer’s elbow – as described in the article

Stretching exercise for golfer’s elbow

Amin NH, Kumar NS, Schickendantz MS. Medial epicondylitis: evaluation and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2015; 23(6): 348-355.

Saueressig T. Evidenzbasierte Physiotherapie. Golferarm (Mediale Epicondylitis). October 07, 2016.

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. informedhealth.org can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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Created on May 30, 2018
Next planned update: 2021

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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