Injuries can happen anytime in sports. They can happen by accidents, result from injuries in contact sports, or just as a part of athletic activity due to the body’s nature.
There are also injuries acquired from too much repetition of movements. An example of this is commonly known as “golfer’s elbow”.
Golfer’s elbow, medically known as medial epicondylitis, is an injury common to most golfers due to the excessive use of the muscles and joints around the elbow area. The inflammation is similar to that of tendonitis and can affect gripping and body mechanics, which can later result in poor performance.
Let’s explore how kinesiology tape, or k-tape, can help!
What are the common symptoms of “golfer’s elbow?”
Even if you are not playing golf, you can still experience “golfer’s elbow.” Here are some things to look out for:
- Stiff elbow
- Pain inside the inner elbow
- Decreasing strength in the wrists and hands
- Inability to grip objects properly
- Numb fingers
What are the usual causes of “golfer’s elbow?”
As mentioned, a “golfer’s elbow” is an injury caused by excessive repetition of movements.
As a golfer, even if you have perfect form, you can still suffer from injury if the muscle groups and joints involved are not trained enough to handle the constant strain. Improper use of the equipment and using the wrong tools can also lead to injury.
Who is prone to “golfer’s elbow?”
If you belong to the following group of people, you might be at higher risk of experiencing “golfer’s elbow”:
- Those who are between the ages of 45 to 64 years old
- Those who smoke
- Those who are overweight
- Those who do the following activities on a regular basis:
- Playing golf, baseball, softball, any racket sports
- Lifting weights
- Working using a computer
- Chopping wood
- Carrying a heavy suitcase
How do you diagnose “golfer’s elbow?”
In order to be sure that what you’re suffering from is “golfer’s elbow”, the following tests need to be completed by a professional:
- Physical exam
- Bone scan
- MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- CT scan
What are some treatments for “golfer’s elbow?”
- Ice or cold compress
- Proper rest
- Physical therapy
- NSAID or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (such as naproxen or ibuprofen)
- Steroid injection
- Kinesiology tape
Wondering if it’s “tennis elbow” or “golfer’s elbow?”
“Golfer’s elbow,” or medial epicondylitis, is an injury where the pain is felt more in the inner elbow. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an injury where the pain is more focused on the outer elbow.
If you are playing golf, you can be more prone to suffering from a “golfer’s elbow.” However, if you play any racket sport, you’re likely to acquire either of the said elbow injuries.
Choosing K-Tape for Treatment
Now that we have acquired the basic information that we need regarding “golfer’s elbow”, let’s focus on the treatment. As mentioned, one of the treatments that are applicable to the said elbow injury is the use of kinesiology tape.
If you are not familiar with the term, maybe you have seen them on televised major sports. If you notice pro athletes playing with some thick, monochrome sticker tape on various parts of their body, those are not pads. Those are kinesiology tapes.
So, why do athletes use those tapes even in a game? How do those work?
Kinesiology Sports Tape is special tape applied to a certain portion of the body that needs support. The tape’s adhesion helps in stabilizing that portion as you perform a certain movement. Since it is flexible, there are no restrictions to the movement, but it will prevent you from improper form.
The effect is similar to the elbow and knee pads but with Kinesio tapes, there is no need to wrap circularly. Some brands claim that their K-tapes can reduce swelling and enhance blood flow in the muscles.
If you put a K-tape on your elbow, it can aid your repetitive movements and reduce strain. That is why the said tape is effective in treating “golfer’s elbow.”
Here are other injuries that can be treated using K-tapes:
- Tennis elbow
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hamstring injuries
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendonitis
Important Taping Tips
Let’s say you buy K-tape, such as those from Hampton Adams, and use it to reduce injury.
You can prolong its longevity and possibly reduce skin irritation with the following tips:
- Wipe the skin that you will be taping with a pad soaked in alcohol to remove residues from lotions and oils.
- As you cut the tape, round the edges to prevent it from being caught by your clothing.
- The tape must be kept for as long as 48 hours. If you feel any skin irritation while using the tape, remove it immediately.
- The tape can stay attached and you can shower while it is on you. It can be dried by patting it with a towel.
- If the tape has to be removed, do it slowly.
- Tapes with “built-in stretch” need not be extended while being applied.
How to Apply K-Tape for “Golfer’s Elbow”
Although the pain of the “golfer’s elbow” is coming from the inside, it can be mitigated by adding support on the outside, because when a movement is performed, the strain is reduced due to the adhesion and flexibility of the K-tape.
Even if you are resting, you can still bend or move your elbow normally with the help of the Kinesio tape.
So, how can one apply the tape to treat “golfer’s elbow?” Just follow the steps below:
- Clean the injured elbow and make sure there is no solid or liquid residue. Ensure that there will be no drops of sweat dripping from your shoulder or arms towards the elbow.
- Prepare the necessary tapes. Cut 1 tape that is 25cm long. Then, cut another tape measuring 25cm also but divide it into 2 strips, lengthwise. Don’t forget to round the edges.
- Position your arm at a 90-degree angle with the forearm and fingers pointing upward.
- Locate the injured part of the elbow. It can be found at a particular bony bump of the inner elbow.
- Using one of the strips, stretch it with about 80 percent tension (just gauge the amount of tension) and apply it over the affected part. The amount of tension is due to the fact that your arm is bent 90 degrees. When it will be straightened, the tape will just contract normally since it was tensed when it was placed initially. The placement must be along the arm vertically. Make sure the ends of the strip are not tensed.
- Next, repeat the same procedure with the remaining strip. This time, the strip must intersect with the previous one, where the common point of intersection is the bony bump. The result should look like a thin, elongated letter “X” along your elbow.
- Afterward, use the last piece of tape and lay it above the previously applied strips. Use only around 20 percent tension and make sure the majority of the elbow, including the point of intersection, is covered by the last piece.
- After laying all the strips, apply pressure by rubbing along the tape to ensure the adhesive sticks to the surface.
There can be many different ways of applying the kinesiology tape. The most important part is that the tape must cover the elbow area and that no matter how much you move, the tape still stays attached to the part.
What are the benefits of using kinesiology tape?
Knowing what kinesiology tape can do, let’s take a look at what the clear benefits of using it are. Keep in mind that kinesiology tape is to be used when some soreness or injury is felt. It must not be applied for aesthetics only, similar to how headbands and armbands are worn.
Here are all the possible benefits that you may get if you use a Kinesio tape properly:
- Reduction of joint irritation through providing more allowance for the joint to move
- Increase in healing capabilities
- Reduction of inflammation from tendonitis
- Pain relief
- Decrease in risk of injury
- Reinforcement of movement patterns for reduction of muscle overuse
- Enhancement of muscle activation during athletic performances or any daily activity
How long does it take to heal from “golfer’s elbow?”
In mild cases, “golfer’s elbow” can heal fully within weeks or a few months as long as treatment is applied consistently. If the case is severe, meaning the pain is constantly increasing for months to the point it is intolerable, then you might need surgery.
You should always consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
If “golfer’s elbow” is left untreated, what can happen next?
If you don’t want to treat your “golfer’s elbow” and decide to toughen it out, you might be facing more problems in the future.
Aside from swelling, you might have difficulty in making movements from the arm with an injured elbow.
Not to mention, more body pain can be felt since you’ll tend to compromise your posture or form due to having a “golfer’s elbow.”
How effective is kinesiology tape compared to regular athletic tape and bracing?
Compared to regular athletic tape, K-tape is proven to be more comfortable. Made from polymers, it is both durable and flexible. Therefore, while your form is being stabilized because of the Kinesio tapes, it will not limit your range of motion, unlike regular athletic tape.
Compared to brace, Kinesio tape is seen as better since the circulation is not being impeded. Bracing is better used for situations that required rigidity while a specific movement is performed, like in weightlifting. It is advisable to consider the intensity of the activity first when choosing between taping and bracing.
Kinesiology tapes can help treat golfer’s elbow. However, you need to constantly monitor the state of your injury. If your situation improves, then the treatment is fine. If it does not for a couple of weeks, then it will be better to seek immediate medical help, instead.