Here is how I cured stubborn golfer’s elbow: just two exercises.
I had golfer’s elbow for many months and months that didn’t respond well to rest, avoidance of offending activities or massage.
I cured my golfer’s elbow (medial epichondylitis) with the following two exercises: the farmer’s walk and the deadlift.
My golfer’s elbow was such that if I deadlifted only 60 pounds, I could feel the aggravation in the tendon. So I started at 40 pounds—which felt “clean.”
I began farmer’s walks with just 10 pound dumbbells, because at 15 pounds, I kind of began “feeling it.”
This article will explain how to use the deadlift to cure golfer’s elbow, rather than also explain what this (or the farmer’s walk) is (that’s a whole separate article’s worth of content).
Before employing the deadlift for your therapy, make sure your form is PERFECT. Practice with a light bar or even wooden pole.
Once you know exactly what you’re doing, then find the amount of weight that enables you to do eight repetitions without feeling any hint of the golfer’s elbow—none of it even tapping on your door, so to speak.
Yet at the same time, this weight should be close to that threshold in which you would begin feeling the tendon problem tapping at your door. If you can “feel it” at all, reduce the amount of weight!
Do five sets, eight reps, with two minutes of rest in between. Avoid all offending activities, whether it’s golf, certain weightlifting exercises, household tasks, yardwork, what-have-you.
Do the deadlifting twice a week, with days separating each session. Every few weeks, add 10 pounds.
If the golfer’s elbow taps at your door, back down on the weight load—go back to what you’ve been doing. Never increase by more than 10 pounds.
As you can see, at this rate, it will be a LONG time before you’re deadlifting 135 pounds. Do not let this discourage you.
More than two years ago I could not deadlift 60 pounds without “feeling” my golfer’s elbow.
At the posting of this article, I can deadlift 225 pounds for three reps WITHOUT feeling any hint of the golfer’s elbow.
It seemed like forever that I was using a barbell of less than 95 pounds, but I’m sure glad I just stuck it all out. I increased the rest time to three minutes once I got over 100 pounds.
Because 10 pounds in each hand is so light for this exercise, I did it nearly every day. Once I got up to a 25 pound dumbbell in each hand, I reduced it to three times a week.
Simply walk for about two minutes. If you can “feel” the golfer’s elbow, use lighter weights.
Increase the dumbbell weight no more frequently than once a week, and do so with two and a half pound increments.
I went from 10 to 12 to 15 to 17 to 20 to 22.5 to 25. It took a long time to get up to 25, because—and I can’t say this enough—you must use a weight load that’s below the threshold, but close to it.
Eventually I was carrying a 70 pound dumbbell in each hand without feeling the slightest hint of the golfer’s elbow.
Ancillary Exercises for Curing Golfer’s Elbow
Don’t rely on just the deadlift and farmer’s walk. At some point, you’ll want to reintroduce other offending exercises, namely the lat pull-down and the seated cable row.
START LIGHT. If you’re deadlifting 135 for reps, don’t assume you can just jump into a 120 pound seated cable row or 135 pound lat pull-down.
The motions of these two new exercises involve a different pattern of muscle recruitment, and thus, even if you can deadlift 150, a lat pull-down of only 75 might aggravate your golfer’s elbow.
Do not use a wide grip on the lat pull-down. Use a medium overhand and underhand grip with the long bar, as well as using a V attachment.
Apply the same principle outlined earlier: Work below the threshold, and very, very gradually increase weight—and I mean gradually. Do eight reps, five sets, a few minutes in between sets.
For the pulley row, use a V attachment and apply the same principle.
Be patient and your golfer’s elbow will be cured.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.