Within the past year or so I have noticed an increase in elbow pain, specifically medial epicondylitis (or Golfers Elbow as its more commonly known), within the Sweat Shop community. Golfers elbow is when your tendons on the inside of the elbow becomes inflamed and causes pain. This pain on the inside of your elbow from the overuse of your wrist flexors (underside of forearm), a weakness in your wrist extensors (top side fo forearm), or even a combination of both. It is a form of tendinitis which is inherently uncomfortable and can last a very long time if nothing is done to treat it. Unfortunately with golfers elbow the effected area tends to get used a lot in CrossFit. Anytime we grip a barbell, pull up bar, dumbbell, or kettlebell, anytime we hold a back rack or front rack, the forearm flexors get used or stretched. Seeing how forearm flexors are used a lot in CrossFit, having a bad case of golfers elbow can make it difficult and painful to do a lot of things. I can’t point to any specific reason as to why I have seen an increase, but all I know is that its pretty dang annoying to deal with!
A while back I had dealt with golfers elbow for the better part of a year and a half with symptoms ranging from a slight nag in my elbows, all the way up to pain that would keep me up at night. I can remember having to constantly change and scale movements, or just deal with pain in a lot of workouts. It made working out less enjoyable and decreased my motivation to train. To deal with the issue I tried some tissue mashing and mobility work. While the mashing and mobility definitely helped, it would take a very long time and I had to be extremely diligent for it to be effective. After dealing with this for a long time, Nabil turned me on to these rubber bands that helped build up the strength in your forearm extensors. The bands go over the top of the fingers and thumb and make it harder to expand your hand, thus working your forearm extensors to buildup the strength in them. The idea is that strengthening the forearm extensors will help decrease the imbalance in usage and strength between the flexors and extensors. After using the bands just for a couple of days, I felt a lot less pain and using them was so simple! It only takes a couple minutes at a time and you can do it while watching TV, while your cooking, driving, really anywhere, it doesn’t take a ton of attention. I have also seen other members of the gym use these bands with great success! You can buy them on amazon (who doesn’t love that free two day shipping) and it will come with two sets of five bands for $16. They have bands ranging from very thin to thick so you can progress up as your forearm extensors get stronger. Using these on a regular basis has pretty much gotten rid of all the pain I have in my elbows so I would consider it the best $16 I have ever spent! If you have been dealing with the same issue, then I would highly encourage giving these a try. I have a bunch of extra bands so please let me know if you’d like to try them and I can let you borrow some of mine!