QA Top Ten - Week 10

By Kelly BlackburnFebruary 13, 2008, 5:00 pm

Q&A Top Ten!
 
Welcome to the final week of our Q & A top ten. Many of you email me weekly with questions regarding your fitness routine and how it relates to your golf game. Ive narrowed those questions down to a top ten! You can find all of the training aids used to demonstrate the exercises in the golf fitness Pro Shop. If you are just joining us, review Weeks 1-9 to see if your question has been answered!
 
Question: Kelly ' Im experiencing pain in my elbow (similar to tennis elbow). Can you help?
 
Kara S '
Myrtle Beach, SC
 
Answer: Kara - The term, golf elbow isnt as openly used in todays vernacular as the term tennis elbow, but the two afflictions are very similar. Tennis elbow, medically known as laeral epicondylitis occurs in the racquet arm of tennis players, and results from hitting backhand shots where the racket arm is extended during an across-the-chest swing. The pronation and supination (turning the palm downward or upward) that go with this shot sometimes lead to small tears or strains in the exterior tendons of the elbow. As a result, small motions become so painful that daily life becomes difficult. A tennis elbow sufferer may not be able to open a jar or lift a book off the floor because of the pain. The only way to treat this injury is to rest and immobilize the elbow until the body can heal itself.
 
These symptoms affect golfers in slightly different spots within the elbow, but for almost exactly the same reasons. With golf elbow, which is technically called medial ephicondylitis, the lead arm is normally affected. An overwhelming number of cases (more than 90 percent) report pain in the lead arm, which is the left arm for those who play right-handed, and just as is the case in tennis elbow, the tendons in the joint are prone to strain, inflammation, and minor tears. The only difference is that in golf elbow the inner tendons are affected. The reason that golf elbow is isolated to the inner part of the joint is that all the flexor muscles the muscles that pull the palm of the hand toward the arm connect with the inner part of the elbow called the medial epicondyle. Inflammation and tenderness occur in the medial epicondyle region from the repeated pronation and supination of arms during the golf swing. Minor traumas, like hitting shots fat, are also a common cause of golf elbow.
 


 

Understanding what golf elbow is doesnt explain why amateurs are five times more likely to get it than pros. In fact, because golf elbow is a repetition injury, logic would dictate that pros are more likely to suffer its effects than are amateurs. After all, pros hit more balls, but most instances of golf elbow occur in amateurs 35 or older who play more than three rounds a week.
 
Older amateurs are more likely to suffer from golf elbow than pros who play and practice six days a week for the following reasons:
 
*Weaker forearm muscles and tighter tendons. The flexor muscles of the hand and forearm arent normally high on anyones stretch list, so as those muscles and tendons become stiffer with age the likelihood of suffering from golf elbow increases dramatically.
 
*Increased grip pressure. Strain on the tendons in the elbow is directly linked to the amount of pressure being applied on those tendons. The tighter you grip the golf club, the more stress you place on the medial epicondyle. Pros dont choke their clubs in a death grip; many amateurs do. Thats the major difference between the percentages of pros with golf elbow and amateurs who suffer from this injury.
 
*Higher frequency of common swing mistakes. Overcocking the wrists and lifting the club with your hands strains the flexor muscles and puts undue pressure on the tendons of your elbow.
 

Recognizing and treating golf elbow

 
Sometimes the pain from golf elbow is mild, a small annoyance that goes away after you rest your arm for a day or so, but inevitably returns the next time you play. As the injury progresses a dull pain may become more constant. Shaking hands with someone becomes a painful encounter, and lifting slightly heavy objects, such as a packed suitcase shocks your system. The pain is isolated in the inner elbow, making that area tender to the touch at all times, but the pain shoots through your entire body when you put stress on your elbow joint.
 
If untreated, golf elbow can become so painful that you wont be able to grip a club. Fortunately, it doesnt have to come to that. In fact, treating golf elbow is easy, and if you catch it early enough the injury shouldnt disrupt your normal routine. Easy remedies include the following that you can do yourself at home:
 
*Rest: Like in tennis elbow, the inflamed tendons that cause golf elbow simply need time to heal. A couple of days of complete rest with no lifting and little bending of the injured elbow can allow your bodys natural healing agents time to work their magic on these sore tendons.
 
*Ice: For 10 to 15 minutes at a time several times a day for the first three to four days of your injury, icing your elbow can reduce swelling and ease the pain.
 
*Heat: If pain continues after the three-day ice treatment, add wet heat to the mix, soaking your elbow in a bowl of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes at a time several times a day for several days. If the pain persists beyond a couple of weeks, see your doctor.
 
*Anti-inflammatory, non-steroid drugs: Taken as directed, aspirin and ibuprofen help reduce swelling and pain caused by tendon strain. When used with other treatments, an aspirin a day can go a long way toward curing your sore elbow joints.
 

You can also do the things on the following list with a doctors supervision or recommendation:
 
*Ultrasound therapy: Your doctor may prescribe ultrasound treatments for persistent pain from golf elbow. These treatments are painless and effective, but they require regular office visits to your physician.
 
*Steroid injections: In severe and persistent cases your doctor may recommend injecting a small dose of steroids, such as cortisone into the injured area. This is a radical step, but one that usually works. No matter how serious your condition, rarely do you need more than two or three injections.
 
*Forearm braces: You can purchase braces specifically designed to reduce pressure on the elbow tendons at most sporting goods stores or through your doctor. These braces arent always effective at treating golf elbow, but they do help reduce the pain so that you can enjoy yourself on the course.
 

Preventing elbow problems before they occur

 
The good news about golf elbow is that with proper exercise and technique you can dramatically reduce your chances of ever having any problems. Whether you change your grip, adjust your swing, or work a few preventative exercises into your daily routine, you have plenty of simple ways to lower your odds of experiencing this injury.
 
Reducing your grip pressure

 
Many scholarly golf instructors have written endless treatises on the importance of a sound grip in golf, but no matter which method you use in your game or which principles of the grip you believe or disbelieve, two things should not be in dispute:
 
*No matter what method you use to hold the golf club, the purpose of the grip it to put your hands on the club so that they work as a unit to generate maximum clubhead speed and consistency at impact.
*Relaxed hands move faster through the hitting zone than tight, tense hands.
 
To test this golf adage, hold your arm straight in front of you and flap your hand from side to side as if you were slapping an imaginary troll. Now clinch your fist as tightly as possible and attempt to move your hand the same way. The hand moves much slower when you clinch your fist than it does when the hand is open and relaxed. The same thing is true during the golf swing. A tight death grip on the club slows the hands down through impact, while relaxed hands move quickly and efficiently through the hitting zone.
 
Lightening your grip pressure allows you to move your hands quickly and freely through impact, and reduces the stress on tendons in your hands, wrists, and elbows. Those facts are indisputable. But the problem with that concept is not in logic and reason; the problem lies in the fact that hitting something with relaxed hands goes against your natural instincts. Any time you prepare to hit something, your body naturally tenses. Its a rudimentary response. Whether you hit a punching bag or a ball, your bodys natural response is to brace for impact. Tension in your hands extends up your arms and into your chest and back, throwing your entire motion out of synch and leading to potential injuries throughout the body.
 

You can overcome these tension-related tendencies, but only by focusing on a relaxed grip pressure and diligently practicing a few key things:
 
*Training with molded grips: Although the rules of golf do not allow you to play with a grip that has been molded or altered in any way (like form-fitted grips that help you place your hands on the club the right way) you can and should practice with these form-fitted grips. . In addition to helping place your hands on the club correctly, these molded grips allow to you reduce the tension in your hands without fear of the club slipping or turning as you swing.
 
You should take one old club out of circulation and dedicate it solely to practice. Doing so allows you to add a molded grip without running afoul of the rules. You can pick up a molded grip at most golf stores, or order one through any of the thousands of catalog and Internet retailers that specialize in golf merchandise. As long as you dont carry your molded club onto the course, you can practice relaxing your grip pressure with a teaching tool that provides enormous long-term benefits to your game.
 
*Regularly changing the grips on your clubs: Touring professional change the grips on their clubs every four to six weeks. Amateurs sometimes go years without changing their grips. This is a critical flaw among amateurs and one that leads to all kinds of unnecessary complications. The simple fact of the matter is your grips get dirty and worn as they age. As the rubber or synthetic material wears out, it becomes slick, and you have to grip the club tighter to keep it from slipping during the swing. This tighter grip can lead to bad swings and injury.

All that you need to prevent these problems is a little diligence when it comes to caring for your equipment. For example, here are a few proactive suggestions.
 
*Regularly replace your grips: adding new grips at least once every two or three months depending on use.
 
*Clean your grips at least as often as you clean your clubheads. If you wash your clubs after every round, take the time to wash and dry your grips as well.
 
*Wipe your grips with a damp towel before every round. Doing so removes the dirt and oils from your hands that accumulate on the grips. You always see professional caddies wiping down players grips before, during and after a round. They know the importance of keeping this part of the club clean.
 

Stretching the forearms

 

Regular forearm stretches keep the tendons in the elbow and wrist flexible and ready for action. You can do these stretches at any time sitting in your office, relaxing at home, or during a round of golf. They should become such a natural part of your routine that you perform them reflexively whenever you have a spare moment. To do these stretches, simply extend one arm directly in front of your chest and flex the wrist as far back as possible. After youve stretched the hand back as far as it will naturally go, use your other hand to extend the stretch a little farther by applying pressure to your fingers. Hold this stretch 15 to 30 seconds and repeat to the opposite side.
 


 
After stretching both hands upward, repeat the same motion flexing the hand downward with your palm facing your chest. After the wrist has stretched the hand as far as it will naturally go, extend the stretch by applying pressure to the back of the hand. Hold that stretch for another 15 to 30 seconds and repeat to the opposite side.
 
This entire exercise takes under four minutes, which is less time than the normal advertisement break in your favorite sitcom. If you repeat this exercise at least once a day, you can substantially improve your form and severely diminish your likelihood of elbow injury
 
Kelly
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    Kelly Blackburn Health & FitnessEditor's Note: Kelly Blackburn has traveled the PGA Tour and Champions Tour circuits as a fitness consultant and trainer for 13 years. Kelly welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at BlackburnOnTour@aol.com. Visit KellyBlackburn.com to learn more about health and fitness for golf.
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''