Golfers Elbow Exercises

This article describes an exercise programme for Golfers Elbow. The information is also provided in video format below.

For more information about the condition see my detailed article here. Exercises are not a quick cure. In fact you might find that your elbow pain worsens slightly for a few weeks until your tendon gets used to them. Patience is required. The programme will need to done for at least 3 months and sometimes longer before you notice a big improvement. 

Whilst doing the exercises there should be minimal pain or preferable no pain at all, otherwise they won't work and may just flare up the condition. You can wear a golfers elbow clasp or a compression sleeve while exercising in order to reduce pain if needed. 

Use the table below to help keep pain at an acceptable level while you are exercising. Try to stay within the green or yellow boxes. If you start nudging into the red, then try reducing the amount of resistance used in the exercise or try changing your elbow position. For example, bending the elbow can often makes things more comfortable. 

After exercising, any pain should back down to your normal level within an hour. If it takes longer, then reduce the amount of exercise that you do next time. 

The exercises are designed to load the tendon progressively in baby steps over many weeks. Tendons have a slow response to healing but can easily flare up if pushed too hard and too fast. So be patient and keep within the green and yellow areas. 

1) Static Wrist Flexion

This should be first exercise that you try. If you can't do this without pain, then go back to the resting stage for a few more weeks before trying again.

Sitting down, put your painful arm on a table of comfortable height with elbow slightly bent and hand palm upwards. Then pull your wrist and fingers upwards towards the ceiling and hold it in this position while gently pushing down on the palm of your hand with your other hand. No movement should occur as this is a static exercise. At first, any pain should be within the green zone but after a few weeks you can nudge gently int the yellow zone as long as the pain settles within the hour.

Static Wrist Flexion

Week 1 : Hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Do twice daily.
Week 2 : Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Do twice daily.
Week 3 : Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Do 2-3 times daily.
Week 4 and beyond : Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Do 2-3 times daily. Increase the resistance.

After week 4, slowly increase the hold time each week until you can manage 30 seconds. You can also increase the amount of resistance by pushing slightly harder with your good arm. At this point you can progress to the strengthening exercises described next.

2) Strengthening Exercise - Wrist Flexion

Sitting down, put your painful arm on a table with palm upwards, and let your wrist hang over the table edge. Use a small hand weight or a water bottle to start with (approx 0.5 - 1kg) or yellow resistance band tied to a broom handle. If using a hand weight, slowly raise the weight upwards towards the ceiling, hold for a second and then allow it to slowly fall back down. Keep your forearm on the table throughout the movement. 

Wrist Flexion using a Hand Weight
If using resistance band then wrap the band around the middle of a broom handle or rolling pin. Use a similar position to the dumb-bell exercise but grasp the handle with both hands this time. Now stand on the other end of the band with your foot and wind the broom handle until a suitable amount of resistance is felt. Keep it gentle at first. 
The exercise involves slowly raising the handle up towards the ceiling while keeping your forearms supported on the table. Hold for second before allowing your wrists to slowly drop back down to the starting position.  

Wrist Flexion using Resistance Band

Week 1 : Do the exercise 10 times, twice daily 
Week 2 : Do 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions, twice daily.
Week 3 and beyond : Do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, twice daily

After week 3, slowly increase the dumb-bell weight (or put more water in the bottle) or increase the amount of resistance felt through the band (or change to thicker band eg. red colour)

3) Strengthening Exercise - Pole Winding

Tie a length of resistance band to the centre of a broom handle or pole. In standing or sitting, grasp the pole with both hands and stand on the other end of the band with your foot. Grasping the pole, reach out in front of you and start winding the band around the pole with both hands. You should wind the pole forwards, in the opposite direction as winding a motorbike throttle. Keep winding slowly as the resistance band steadily tightens to a point where it starts becoming mildly painful (green or yellow level). Then slowly unwind the pole back down again. 

The Pole Winding Exercise
Repeat the exercise until you've been doing it for about 2 minutes and then slowly increase this to about 5 minutes as the weeks progress. The exercise can be repeated twice daily. 

4) Strengthening Exercise - Forearm Pronation / Supination

Sitting down, rest your painful arm on a small table allowing your wrist to drape over the edge. Grasp a small hand weight or a rolling pin. Slowly rotate your forearm from the palm down position to the palm up position. Slowly build up to 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions over the coming weeks. Repeat twice daily.

Palm Up                             Mid Position                                Palm Down
You can increase the resistance by holding the hand weight or rolling pin at one end, or by holding something which is heavy at one end, like a hammer.

Palm Up                               Mid Position                                 Palm Down 

5) Strengthening Exercise - Towel Twist

This is a functional exercise which mimics the action of wringing out a wet towel. In standing, grasp a towel with both hands. Reach out in front of you with elbows straight. Then twist the towel by turning your wrists in opposite directions. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 times. Then twist the towel in the other direction and again hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 times. Over the coming weeks, slowly increase the length of time you hold the twist for, aiming for 10-15 seconds.

The Towel Twist Exercise

The next 5 exercises are general whole arm exercises aimed at improving the strength of the main supporting muscles around the elbow and shoulder. These should also be done as part of a comprehensive strengthening programme which increases the likelihood of the problem getting better, and not recurring again in the future.

These following exercises should be done once daily for 3-4 days of the week. Build up slowly, aiming towards 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Use a weight that you can manage without causing pain, but which still feels like an effort for your muscles.

A hand weight, dumb-bell or resistance band can work well, or a water bottle (1 litre = 1kg) or a standard bag of sugar (1kg).

1) Biceps Curl

2) Forward Lean Rowing

3) Triceps Curl
4) Single Arm Bench Press / Shoulder Press

Single Arm Bench Press
Single Arm Shoulder Press

5) Wrist Ulnar and Radial Deviation

Wrist Ulnar Deviation 
Wrist Radial Deviation

The exercise above can be done by holding a hand weight in the middle or at one end (as pictured) depending on how much resistance you need. A rolling pin, a hammer or even a golf club could also be used.

Exercise is not always without risk, even for healthy individuals. Certain types of exercise and riskier than other and all exercise may be risky for some individuals. You are responsible for your own health and safety at all times. As such, by visiting and using the information on this website/media channel you are acknowledging that you have been assessed by a qualified health care professional who has given you consent to take part in physical activity.

This article provides general information related to various medical conditions and their treatment. It is intended for informational purposes only and  not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. The information provided does not constitute personal advice or guarantee of outcome and should not be used to diagnose yourself or others. You should never ignore advice provided by a health care professional because of something you have seen or read on this website. You should always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional for personal medical advice.