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How to Reduce Golfer's Elbow with Taping

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT June 23, 2021 0 Comments

Elbow taping

If you are dealing with golfer's elbow, or medial epicondylitis, there are many home treatment options that can help you get on track with your recovery. Kinesiology taping is one method, commonly used in physical therapy to reduce and prevent pain. When it comes to golfer’s elbow, taping is a safe and fairly simple technique you can try at home. Keep reading to learn more about kinesiology taping and how to apply tape for your elbow pain.

How Kinesiology Tape Works

When kinesiology tape is placed across a specific joint or muscle, it changes the way our body perceives movement in that area. Also referred to as biofeedback., the tugging of the tape on your skin provides extra feedback to your body and brain for coordinating meaningful movement. Moving our bodies with intention and attention to proper form is a great way to boost healing and prevent unnecessary aggravation of the elbow.

Other theories involve the tape’s ability to increase circulation by gently lifting the skin and down-regulating over-sensitive pain pathways.

Application for Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer's elbow is a common overuse injury of the forearms muscles that flex the wrist and fingers. Medial elbow pain is also linked to excessive gripping. Thus, use of tape can be a great tool for helping an individual be aware of their gripping habits and any other movement patterns that are straining the forearm muscles and causing elbow pain. Applying tape to the inside of the elbow is also a technique that someone can easily apply to their own arm for use.

Not sure if you have Golfer's elbow or Tennis elbow? Here's how to tell the difference.

Here is a simple review of how to apply tape to your elbow for managing medial epicondylitis:

  • Grab a roll of tape and make sure the skin on your inner elbow is clean and ready to be taped
  • Cut two tape strips so that you will have about 2 inches of extra tape on each side of the inner elbow joint
  • Round the edges of both pieces of tape to maximize adhesion without sticking to clothing
  • Hold your arm out in front of you with the elbow at about a 90-degree angle
  • Remove the backing from one end of the tape and place it on your inner elbow just above the bony protrusion of the inside elbow (usually quite prominent)
  • With the end secure, remove the backing from the middle of the tape and apply a slight stretch (if needed; many tapes have stretch built-in) in the tape as you pull it straight across the elbow; this piece of tape will be parallel with your upper arm bone
  • Lastly, remove the backing from the other end of the tape and lie it gently on the skin below your elbow joint
  • Rub the tape to activate the adhesive and make sure it is sticking well
  • Repeat this process again, but this time you will start behind the elbow joint and pull it across to the front so that it is parallel with the forearm
  • When you are finished, you should have an “X” around the inside portion of the elbow around your medial epicondyle
  • You can experiment with the amount of stretch to place in the middle part of the tape for the best results; generally less is more to prevent skin irritation while still retaining the same benefits

There are several other taping alternatives you can try too with 1 to 2 strips.  Sometimes the distal (further away) ends of the tape are cut into two pieces to address a more diverse area of forearm muscles. The ultimate goal is to have a piece of tape that crosses the inside of the elbow joint.

Benefits of Taping

Now that you understand how kinesiology tape works, the benefits should be pretty clear. It is important to note that the research related to kinesiology tape varies and is not well-supported. However, subjective improvements among patients make it a viable option to try that comes with little to no risk to experiment with. The potential benefits of taping the elbow include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Reducing joint irritation by providing more space within the joint for movement
  • Increased healing capabilities
  • Reduce inflammation associated with tendonitis
  • Pain relief
  • Lower risk of injury with a return to previous activities and sports
  • Reinforce better movement patterns to reduce muscle overuse
  • Enhance muscle activation with daily activities and athletic performance

Taping Tips

To prolong the longevity of the tape and reduce skin irritation, keep these simple kinesiology taping tips in mind.

  • Use an alcohol pad to wipe away lotions and oils from the skin you will be taping
  • Always round the edges of the tape to minimize catching on clothing
  • Keep the tape on for around 48 hours- if skin irritation is present you can remove it sooner
  • You can shower with tape on, simply pat dry afterwards
  • Always remove tape slowly, NOT quickly like a bandaid
  • Most types of kinesiology tape (including ours) comes with built in stretch- this means you don’t need to apply any “stretch” for it to be effective

More Ways to Treat Golfer’s Elbow

Taping Compared to Bracing

Most studies have found no big difference between the benefits of taping and bracing. Both can provide biofeedback and support the joint. Taping does have the additional potential benefit of increasing circulation. Ultimately, which option is best for you comes down to preference and how often you will be needing the extra support.

  • Taping can be a great way to initially test the efficacy of elbow support before investing in a more expensive brace. It can also be considered less obstructive than a brace. 
  • If you need a long-term solution for participating in daily activities, especially sports, a brace might be a more cost-effective and practical option.
Weigh your options and talk to your physical therapist or doctor for recommendations.

More Ways to Treat Golfer's Elbow Pain

Try Kinesiology Taping for Elbow Pain

Kinesio taping for golfer’s elbow is another great option to add to your toolbox as you recover from elbow pain. Since medial elbow pain is most often related to overuse, having an effective feedback mechanism can help you start to change your movement patterns to maximize healing and minimize the risk of future injury. These techniques are also effective for tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, as well when targeting the outer elbow. You can experiment with your own roll of tape for a relatively low cost or risk. Otherwise, you can talk to your physical therapist about specific techniques that would benefit you.

As always, consult your doctor or PT for further medical advice if your elbow symptoms suddenly worsen or don’t get better with time.

Sources:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/kinesiology-tape-for-golfers-elbow-2696038

https://www.healthline.com/health/kinesiology-tape#:~:text=The%20lymphatic%20system%20is%20the,the%20flow%20of%20lymphatic%20fluid.

https://ethoshealth.com.au/ankle-taping-vs-bracing-which-is-better/

SHOP Golfer's Elbow

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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.



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