As coaches, we hear so many questions in the gym and often we don’t have the opportunity to address them in the detail we would like to. We also understand that it can be incredibly frustrating trying to research things on your own when there is so much contradictory information online. We want to be able to address your questions properly and with resources when possible. This is what prompted the idea for a new blog series, and who better to research and answer these questions than our own walking encyclopedia...Coach Lance!
“Ask Coach Lance” will be a monthly blog series answering all of your burning questions! Let’s find out what our first BOOMer question is!
"About once every couple months I get horrible golfer’s elbow (inside of elbow) and it lasts for weeks. I assume it is from doing front squats wrong? What am I doing wrong on the lift (or on the decline)? Any suggestions for stretches, etc to reduce recovery from the pain?"
I think most, if not all, of us can relate to this painful and annoying injury. Take it away Coach Lance!
Thank you the awesome question! I am by no means an expert on injuries and prevention but fortunately I do know some people. Fellow Boomer Dr. Matt Casseday who, no big deal, has a PhD in Physical Therapy and is a practicing PT, DPT, Cert. SMT, Cert. DN at Physical Therapy of the Rockies has graciously offered to assist as my “phone a friend” for this week!
To start with while it is possible that your elbow issue is being caused by doing front squats it is more likely that is just where you most feel the pain due to the elbow being in flexion and under load. Typically what we see as the primary causes of golfer’s elbow (which is an inflaming of the tendons in the inner elbow as a result of micro tears) are relatively violent loading motions of the joint at the end of the range of motion. The eccentric (downward) portion of a pull-up, cleans (especially hang cleans), and curls/hammer curls our often culprits. Usually how this happens is that we relax on the eccentric portion of the movement which results in a large amount of force “yanking” the joint at the end of the movement. Over time this can damage tendons and result the radiating type of pain you are experiencing. Being conscious of decelerating/slowing down the eccentric portion of those and similar movements to avoid the acute stress on the joint/tendons is a good way to help avoid this injury or prevent in making it worse. Side Note - In the front squat resting the bar on your deltoids (the front part of your shoulders) and not placing all the load on your wrists and/ or collarbone is likely to help mitigate the pain as well as provide a better loading position for the squat in general.
With the easy stuff out of the way I am going to call in the big guns and have Matt address how to treat as well as ways to prevent this from reoccurring….
*Dr. Matt Casseday advice* #phoneafriend
Medial epicondylitis or ‘Golfer’s Elbow’ can be a stubborn condition to treat, but one that I see often as a physical therapist. I treat it by first recommending the patient/athlete try to avoid repetitive motion of the wrist, hand, and forearm if able. Depending on how long the condition has been affecting the individual, I have different treatment approaches. If it is acute, I will recommend rest and ice, light forearm or wrist flexors stretches (palm facing away from your body, straight elbow, pull hand toward body), and stabilization (sometimes in the form of kinesiotaping or bracing). If it is chronic (lasting more than a couple of months), I will perform techniques to stimulate an inflammatory, and ultimately body’s healing response to that (anything from instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization or scraping, to trigger point dry needling). Besides overuse, it can simply be from weak muscles or poor form on the aggravating exercise. Check with your coach on any questions you have on form.
For prevention, I would recommend a proper warm-up (e.g. rowing, hangs on the pull-up bar, active stretching), along with a focus on forearm/grip specific strengthening exercise. Since you are prone to it reoccurring, you could learn to self tape with kinesiotape on the days that you will be working more forearm/grip exercises. Also, decrease the weight that you are lifting for a period of time and slowly build back up. As the coaches would agree I’m sure, lighter weight and better form are always better than the alternative.
PT, DPT, Cert. SMT, Cert. DN, Dip. Osteopractic
We hope that helps answer your question Tracy! Thank you Coach Lance and Dr. Matt Casseday for dropping all that knowledge!
If you have a question for Coach Lance please email firstname.lastname@example.org. No question is off limits.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Matt Casseday and his practice, Physical Therapy of the Rockies. To enroll in his LG1 Nutrition Program contact Coach Lance here.
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