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You don’t often think about your elbow, until it is almost impossible to brush your teeth, pick up your cup of coffee or shake someone’s hand due to severe pain. Elbow pain can pop up seemingly randomly and wreak havoc on your ability to do every day activities and participate in the sports that you love. Because it’s such a common issue, Halifax physiotherapy clinics see many people walk through their doors every year with elbow pain. Here is a quick review of why it happens, how to try to avoid it and what to do if you end up with an ache.

The two most frequent causes of elbow pain that Zoomers’ Halifax physiotherapy team members treat are called tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. Each earned their name from the sport in which they are most often seen, but both issues commonly affect people who have never played either sport.

Tennis elbow is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the outside of the elbow (otherwise known as extensors in the Halifax physiotherapy world). It’s associated with tennis because it can be caused by poor backhand stroke techniques. However, it can also happen with repetitive wrist or forearm movements associated with activities such as gardening, painting and using the computer keyboard and mouse. We’ve seen all of these underlying issues among the cases that we’ve seen in our Halifax physiotherapy clinic.

Golfer’s elbow results from overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons that attach to the inside of the elbow. The repetitive nature of the golf swing, along with the leverage it applies to the elbow, are why it is a common issue for golfers. Golfing happens to be a very popular sport in Nova Scotia, which is another reason why our Halifax physiotherapy team tends to see many golf injuries! However, it too can be caused by any activity requiring repetitive gripping including throwing sports, weight training, cooking and yard work.

Avoiding these overuse injuries of the elbow involves considering a number of factors we often talk about within the Halifax physiotherapy community:


If you are new to tennis, golf or any other sport consider lessons to learn the basic skills properly.  Our Halifax physiotherapy team can also share helpful tips and tricks to improve your sport performance.


Heavier equipment and smaller diameter grip handles increase the risk for injury. Make sure you are using the best racquet/club/tool for you.

Warm-up and stretch

During appointments with our clients, Halifax physiotherapy team members provide education on the importance of a proper warm-up. Consider easing into play with a rally before tennis or some practice swings before playing golf. Stretching your forearm muscles (both inside and outside) after activity can relieve tension in the muscle to reduce stress at the elbow. It is recommended by our Halifax physiotherapy team to wait to do these stretches until after the activity rather than before.

If you do begin to experience elbow pain, try to determine the offending activity and rest from it (and anything else that is now painful to do) for a few days. Book with a member of Zoomers’ Halifax physiotherapy team to discuss the correct stretches, modalities (ice, heat or acupuncture), massage therapy and bracing that can get you faster relief and return to activity. Our Halifax physiotherapy team can also evaluate your technique and give you strengthening exercises to prevent re-injury. 

Book an assessment now to be proactive to get back (or stay) in the game!

Book an assessment with Zoomers

Use our online booking tool to find a time that works for you!