What Are The Reasons For Your Elbow Pain
Whether youre a weightlifter, a nurse, or just someone who loves to pick up heavy things from time to time, elbow pain is something that can be an unwelcome distraction. It can also stop you from working out and enjoying your favourite activities, which is both frustrating and discouraging.
11 Reasons why elbow hurts from lifting heavy objects:
Root Cause #: Chronic Inflammation
Weight training builds and strengthens muscles however, it also inflames tendons, ligaments, and joints. When the workout target or involve the elbow , it inflames the elbow tendons and joint. Inflammation of the elbow tendons causes a “burning” sensation of pain around the elbow. The condition is known as elbow tendonitis.
The burning feeling and pain around the elbow joint are signs of acute inflammation – meaning the pain is temporary. With time the body heals the elbow tendons, and the pain goes away. However, when the elbow tendons cannot heal and recover, and the inflamed tendon pain continues for three months or more, it becomes a chronic inflammatory condition.
Chronic inflammation is a state where the inflammatory process that enables the body to heal injured muscles, tendons, and ligaments is not working. As a result, the body is unable to heal on its own. In this case, it leads to chronic elbow tendonitis.
Left untreated, chronic inflammation in the elbow becomes degenerative and leads to irreversible deterioration of the elbow joint. Degenerative elbow tendonitis can also lead to autoimmune diseases such as arthritis. Athletes, gymgoers, and weight lifters with elbow tendonitis experience pain and discomfort in the elbow during…
- Machine Lat Pulldown
Elbow Pain When Lifting Weights: Tennis Elbow Vs Golfers Elbow
Dont let the laymens terms fool you you dont have to be a tennis player or a golfer to suffer from tennis elbow or golfers elbow. In fact, many athletes, workout enthusiasts and weight lifting newcomers experience elbow pain from these conditions due to incorrect form while lifting weights.
Before we get into possible reasons why your elbow hurts during or after your strength training, its important to understand the basic anatomy of the elbow.
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Causes Of Tennis Elbow Pain
Tennis elbow pain usually lasts from some months to even a year. The majority of people are unable to recover from it as they don’t know the cause. The most major cause of tennis elbow pain is the repetitive use of the muscles.
A vigorous activity performed by muscles of hands can also become the cause of the problem. You can also experience it if you have any underlying problem.
Some of the major causes for tennis elbow pain are:
- Typing for a long time
- Activities such as sewing or using screwdrivers
- Painting for a longer time
- Playing musical instruments
Keep Biceps And Triceps Exercises Lighter And Higher In Reps
You know how I just mentioned that certain exercises are better suited for being done heavy in lower rep ranges? Yeahisolation exercises are not exercises Id put in that group.
This would apply not only to biceps and triceps movements, but to virtually all isolation exercises for all body parts. Calf raises are the only exception that comes to mind.
But stuff like various biceps curls and triceps extensions on the other hand? Nope. The same goes for stuff like lateral raises, leg extensions and dumbbell flyes. These are not your 4-8 rep range movements. These are your 8-15 rep range movements. Maybe even 10-15.
Thats not to say you couldnt do exercises like these for 4-8 reps. You certainly can. I just wouldnt consider it an ideal use of these movements or that good of an idea in general. Theres a few reasons for this.
One is just the single-joint isolated nature of these exercises, most of which involve your joints, tendons and muscles being put under tension in compromising positions where TOO much tension can so easily be problematic from a safety standpoint.
Not to mention, from a technique standpoint as well. I mean, just try to go heavy enough on these types of exercises to warrant something like 5 reps and let me know how well your proper form remains intact.
Or better yet, look around your gym. Youre bound to see people trying and failing to do this on a daily basis.
This combination = better looking arms and healthier elbows.
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Avoid Thick Bars And Fat Gripz For Back/biceps Exercises
Good way of improving grip/forearm strength and size? Sure.
Good way of placing a whole lot of additional stress on your grip, forearms and elbows? Yeah, that too.
So if your gym has different barbells that are thicker than others, or different bars for seated cable rows and lat pull-downs that are thicker than others, or various machine rows that have handles that are thicker than others, Id recommend avoiding those in favor of the thinnest bars/handles you have available.
Id especially recommend this one to anyone who is currently dealing with medial epicondylitis or has ever dealt with it in the past. Theres a bunch of equipment in my gym that I purposely avoid for this very reason.
Weight Lifting & Fluid On Elbow
The condition commonly described as “fluid on the elbow” is medically referred to as elbow bursitis. A small sac of fluid that sits between the tip of the elbow bone and the skin, the bursa allows the skin and bone to move freely against one another. When the bursa becomes irritated, it fills with fluid and becomes extremely painful. Pressing gently on the back of the elbow allows you to feel the liquid inside, hence the condition’s popular nickname. Understanding the relationship between weight lifting and fluid on the elbow can help you prevent the painful condition.
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Elbow Pain From Lifting Weights Wrapping Up
Tennis elbow pain from weightlifting is the result of too much too soon.
Training too frequently without adequate rest or warm-up can lead to a case of lateral epicondylitis.
You never want to experience the debilitating pain of elbow tendonitis it is that severe.
The best way to prevent weightlifting elbow pain is to always warm-up and progress gradually.
As your body is subject to gravity, so it is also governed by Hans Selyes general adaptation syndrome.
This principle states that your body will go through three phases of reaction to exercise.
The first is alarm reaction when you first introduce a new movement or additional weight for your body to handle.
The second is resistance development when your body develops the necessary muscle and strength to meet the new demands.
And the third is exhaustion if you do not allow your body to rest and recover sufficiently.
Exhaustion is a result of overtraining and a common cause of injuries such as tennis elbow.
This post discusses the relationship between tennis elbow and weightlifting, and most importantly, how to recover!
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How Can I Train Around It
The first thing to avoid would be exercises that cause pain and extreme elbow extension when locking. reduce the weight youre lifting and perform slower negative reps.
For pain relief, make use of a massage ball to roll over the forearm and surrounding tissues. It also aids in releasing tension in the triceps tendon which connects to the elbow.
Elbow pain doesnt necessarily mean weak elbows, your best bet is to identify the underlying cause and practice several of these strategies to keep you training longer and harder. If your elbow pain is severe or worsening, it is always worth to consult a physical therapist first.
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Eat To Reduce Inflammation
Tennis elbow pain includes inflammation in hand. One of the best ways to combat this problem is to eat the right food. Focus on eating foods that reduce inflammation in the body. Use an omega-three fish oil supplement to reduce the inflammation in the body, which will further help in dealing with pain.
Wait For Your Doctors Go
Before jumping into any kind of exercise regimen after youve experienced a tennis elbow injury, you should always talk to your doctor. Strenuous activities of any kind may agitate the affected area, so be sure to get the okay from your physician before moving forward.
Your doctor will want to ensure that the pain and inflammation in your elbow have adequately decreased. Rest is one of the most effective treatments for tennis elbow, so you may have to avoid exercise for a short time as you heal.
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Tips To Manage Elbow Pain From Weight Lifting
Pain is the bodys #1 warning sign that something is wrong and we should address the problem before it gets worse. Even if you are able to train around joint pains, it still doesnt mean that you should ignore them.
For most people with elbow pain, a little bit of soft tissue work and corrective exercises can help decrease, or even eliminate the elbow pain. These corrective exercises are especially important if you work at a desk for a large majority of the day. Working at a desk combined with an intense training regimen can wreak havoc on joints such as your elbows.
The following is a simple guide to helping prevent and manage elbow pain from weight lifting.
NOTE: If your elbow pain is severe, chronic, or worsening, you should consult with your doctor right away. Its worth the time and money to get an x-ray and consult a medical professional. Its better to be safe than sorry because you are going to be using your elbows for the rest of your life.
Shoulder And Forearm Strengthening
I know we spent most of this post talking about decreasing the load on your elbow. But there are some very specific exercises that can help heal tendons instead of damaging them. These are called Eccentric Exercises. Eccentric strength training is where you slowly resist a force working against you. You can purchase some inexpensive eccentric elbow strengthening bands easily, on Amazon. Just click this link! And dont forget the shoulder rehab too! Studies have shown that strengthening the rotator cuff can help reduce elbow pain too.
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Ways To Get Rid Of Elbow Pain
Alright, so youre in the boat. The waves of elbow pain surround you, what now?
I say it often, since its reality our bodies are adept. They do their thing when given the tools i.e nutrition and recovery time. Your body will heal itself if you give it the right kind of calories and enough time to do so more often than not.
There are some moves you can make to assist the process, however. The acronym price is a go-to in an abundance of situations with pain or injury:
Protection: its exactly what you think. Keep the baby safe, let no further harm come its way as you recover.
Relative rest/recovery: ambiguous, but vital. Rest could mean no extra elbow involvement other than daily needs for a time period, could mean lightening your load for better management, or even more recovery time between sets during an actual workout.
Ice: similar to the impact of an NSAIDs, cryotherapy is applied to reduce swelling and pain.
Compression: a wrap, an elastic band, or something of that nature will provide support, yet assist in limiting swelling. Not too tight or loose, you shouldnt feel a numb or tingling sensation. Works well if you have to keep working during recovery too.
Elevation: keep the precious cargo above your heart when possible. This is to reduce the collection of fluid.. Of course to reduce swelling. The aim is to speed your recovery process.
Note: price will help tendonitis without doubt, but in cases of tendinosis only protection and rest/recovery will prop you up.
Bench Press And Elbow Pain
When people experience elbow pain from weightlifting, its usually during the bench press.
There are three reasons for this.
First of all, the bench press allows you to move more weight than almost any other upper body exercise. So, all else being equal, this is going to punish your elbows more over time than, say, dumbbell overhead press.
In this case, the solution is simplemake sure youre only adding 5 to 10 pounds every week, and taking regular deloads when things start to hurt.
Second, many people have a tendency to keep their elbows close to their sides, also called tucking the elbows.
Many fitness gurus even say that this helps prevent shoulder pain, and is thus the proper way to bench.
Heres what this looks like:
As you can see, this forces the elbow into an awkward position that puts more stress on the tendons around the elbow joint.
Instead, you want your elbows to be more or less directly under the bar, like this:
And if youre worried about your shoulders, just make sure you arent wildly swinging your elbows up past your ears and youll be fine.
Thirdly, most people, especially guys, have an almost manic fixation on their bench press. Thus if theyre going to overdo one exercise, the bench is usually it.
Its also the first exercise many people start with when theyre new to lifting and dont know proper technique, which means its more likely theyll feel elbow pain on this exercise than, say, overhead press.
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Four Common Reasons For Elbow Pain From Bicep Curls
1. Youre gripping the bar or dumbbell too tight.
Gripping the bar or dumbbell too tight activates the flexor tendon that allows your wrist to bend or curl forward. Even if your wrist maintains a neutral position throughout the curl, activating the flexor tendon in this way can lead to inner elbow pain and golfers elbow.
2. Youre not keeping your wrist in a strong, neutral position throughout the curl.
Similar to gipping the bar or dumbbell too tight, allowing your wrists to roll forward will activate the flexor tendon and can lead to inner elbow pain.
On the flip side, if you extend/bend your wrists backward during a curl, the weight will activate the extension tendons in your wrists that are attached to the outer side of your elbow, which can cause outside elbow pain and tennis elbow.
3. Youre using too much weight.
While this may seem obvious, its a bit more nuanced than you may think. Too much weight for your bicep curl may have nothing to do with your bicep strength and everything to do with your grip and forearm strength.
As mentioned above, gripping too tightly or extending or flexing your wrist during a bicep curl can lead to inner and outside elbow pain. If your lack of grip strength causes you to over-grip the bar or dumbbells, or if your inadequate forearm strength causes a flexion or extension of the wrist, the weight is probably too heavy for you to curl while maintaining proper form. Poor form can lead to elbow pain and injury.
Root Cause #: Muscle Restriction
When you lift weights and perform exercises that target or involve the elbow, the triceps muscle and forearm muscles contract, become stiff and tight, and after some time, lose their elasticity. Muscle restriction occurs when inelastic muscle fibers become shortened and unable to release and lengthen back to their normal relaxed state.
In the case of elbow pain, lifting a weight too heavy or using a bad weightlifting form overstretches the triceps muscles and forearm muscles and causes these muscles to become restricted. This is usually the trigger that initiates elbow pain. When the triceps and forearm muscles get restricted, they become shortened and get tighter.
Tight triceps muscles and forearm muscles pull and put tension on the elbow tendons. As a result, it inflames the elbow tendon and causes elbow discomfort when lifting.
Athletes, gymgoers, and weight lifters with restricted triceps and forearm muscles experience:
- Sharp or severe elbow pain while lifting
- Elbow pain when lifting and gripping
- Elbow pain when bending and straightening arm
- Elbow pain when lifting and extending
- Sharp forearm pain when lifting
Summary: Root Causes of Elbow Pain From Lifting Weights
The Complete Elbow Pain Solution For Athletes
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Elbow tendonitis symptoms from lifting weights include:
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Elbow Pain Treatment #3
In other words, ditch the single joint exercises like bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and shoulder flies. Trust me on this one. Working the elbow joint in isolation is a sure fire way to keep that pain coming back.
Instead, opt for full body exercises like pushups, pull-ups and bodyweight rows once your elbows are feeling a little better. This will ensure that your elbows are stabilized by more muscles than just your biceps and triceps.
I have found that laying off the isolation stuff for even just a little while will help your elbows feel exponentially better. This way your training wont skip a beat.
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When To Contact A Doctor
There are some treatments that a person can try at home when experiencing elbow pain.
If pain, swelling, or immobility continues, however, it is important that a person consults a doctor. If the elbow area is deformed, it is also important that the person consults a doctor.
It is vital for a person to talk with a doctor if pain persists. Identifying the problem quickly may reduce the chance of complications.
The elbow is a complicated part of the body formed between three bones:
A combination of cartilage, tendons, and ligaments surrounds these bones. Cartilage covers the bones to ease stress from compression and allow for fluid joint movement. Tendons connect the bones to surrounding muscles. Ligaments connect bones to other bones.