Medial epicondylitis / Golfer’s Elbow – what an experience…

Medial epicondylitis is a recurring theme in the injuries forum as can be seen from some of the links below.!!!?highlight=elbow+pain

I have just suffered from this. The background is very interesting and I want to share some of my experiences.

I have been using the same model of racquet for the last ten-plus years. My usual tension is to have thin gauge strings (0.67-0.68mm) pulled around 26-28 lbs. I am pretty conservative about strings having four of the same racquet strung with the same strings at the same tension in my bag.

I’d been using Nanogy 98 at 28lbs for a while now but the stringer is getting reluctant to string to that tension citing damage to the racquet. So in a compromise, I dropped the tension to 26lbs and asked him to use BG66. The stringer is usual and has a pretty good stringing pattern. I get three racquets back and start playing with them immediately.

Unfortunately, this period also coincided with me getting less practice time. When I came back, the shuttle felt a bit dead on my strings. I put it down to my lack of practice – after all, the strings are still pretty new. After a couple of weeks, ‘bam’ – on a smash, the inside of my elbow feels like it had a mini-explosion. I had to stop the game immediately and ice it. I know it’s a Golfer’s elbow – don’t ask why I am so sure ;)

I give the arm a few weeks rest but not much other treatment. It used to hurt when picking up bags but it does get better. At this stage, I try to get back on the court. Nope, I can still feel it and dare not put any strength into pronation. That means clears become 3/4 length and smashes are no-go at all.

Hmm, so it’s not that simple a problem to solve after all. Luckily, finding a physiotherapist is pretty convenient. I know physios come in different shapes and forms (no, they are not beings from outer space). The physio I go to happens to be involved in sports medicine and has a master’s degree. I imagined I’d get some exercises to work on the affected area and this would solve the problem.

Strangely, the physio asks me to look at my posture, raise my arms, lower my arms, raise one arm on its own and then the other arm. The physio then presses my neck shoulder and ribs. This is all very well but my problem is the elbow – isn’t that an interesting area? The physio explains a lot is due to posture problems and diagnoses a very stiff right side of my body. I had some skepticism until the physio started pressing certain areas on the right side (neck, ribs, leg) which hurt but pressing the equivalent place on the left side of my body could not reproduce the pain. This starts to convince me there is something deeper than just my elbow. The first session gets me these painful prods and some stretching exercises to do. I have to admit I have been rather lazy with my pre-badminton stretching in recent times. I used to have a very good stretching routine that originally came from martial arts.

This take-home stretching exercise I found particularly useful.

It’s something I do daily and very easy to do. There are a couple of other exercises but I haven’t found the clips on YouTube.

After a few sessions of being poked on and stretching, the physio says I have to work certain muscle groups for injury prevention. I will be embarking on this stage soon.

I go back and play a bit with the racquets and also try out s couple of new racquets for review. I look back at my racquets and notice something a bit strange. My BG66 doesn’t look like BG66. It’s marked BG85 but the gauge seems pretty thick. Almost, BG65 thickness. I didn’t even check the strings when I got the racquet back. Eventually, it seems the cause of the elbow pain has two origins. One, my technique has got worse – I knew it’s been slacking for the last year or so from an irregular playing schedule. Two, the change of strings pushed the elbow over the edge…

So the plan is to do some rehab exercises to strengthen my lower body and deficient muscle groups, work on my overhead technique (using more hip and body rotation), continue the stretching exercises, and hopefully cure the Golfer’s elbow.

Seems like a lot of work – strange but true!