People often overlook the elbows when designing exercise routines and self-care programs, but these joints get a lot of abuse during exercise.
Incorrect repetitive movements like push-ups can cause joint misalignment, including the elbows, which can lead to pain.
How do you plan to avoid elbow pain, and what should you do if you experience elbow pain when lifting heavy or even light objects?
We first need to look into what might be causing the elbow pain.
Elbow injuries can occur when lifting weights for several reasons, but these are the most common culprits. They are caused by elbow tendonitis, which is inflammation or irritation of the tendons in the elbow.
Tendinitis of the common flexor tendon is often referred to as golfer's elbow. While you may not be a golfer, you use many of the same joints and muscles when you lift weights that golfers do when you swing.
medial epicondylitis elbow pain
In this condition, you will experience pain in your elbow and inside of your forearm because it affects the flexor tendons on the inside of your elbow. Medial epicondylitis most commonly occurs with back and bicep exercises such as curls, pull-ups, pull-ups, and lat pulldowns.
A golfer's elbow affects the medial elbow tendon, and lateral epicondylitis affects the external extensor tendon. This condition is also known as tennis elbow. It is also known as tendonitis of the common extensor tendon.
As in the case above, you don't have to be a tennis player to experience this elbow condition. Any repetitive stress could be the culprit, including lifting weights. You may experience tennis elbow due to chest, triceps, and upper arm exercises such as triceps stretches and chest presses.
distal biceps tendonitis
Similar to the two cases above, this form of tendinitis occurs in the distal biceps tendon. This is the tendon that connects the biceps to the radius of the forearm. When this tendon becomes inflamed, it can cause pain in the elbow and inner forearm. Although lifting anything can cause this pain, it is most often associated with repetitive weightlifting activities, including bicep curls and rowing exercises.
If you have pain in the back of your elbow, you may be experiencing triceps tendinitis in the corresponding tendon from the back of your arm to your elbow. The aptly named "weightlifter's elbow" is often the result of prolonged overtraining. You may experience severe pain or weakness in your elbow as you push deep, swollen, or painful. Exercises such as the bench press, push-up, and burpees can cause tiny tears in the tendons.
Now that you know what might be causing your elbow pain, what can you do about it?
Prevent Elbow Pain
There's a saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The same goes for any pain you may experience while lifting weights. The best way to stop elbow pain when lifting weights is to stop it from happening in the first place. Prevention does not require you to go beyond the norm. Quite the opposite. You can avoid elbow injuries by thinking smart, focusing on your form, and doing well-rounded exercises.
Control your sales reps
Since biceps and triceps exercises are among the most likely to cause elbow pain, special care needs to be taken when doing these exercises. These are isolation exercises that focus on specific muscles, and they involve a lot of elbow movement. For these exercises, you don't want to put too much pressure on the elbows by lifting too heavy. Instead, reduce your weight and increase your reps. Do your bicep curls weigh 4 to 8 times? Consider your elbows and do 8-15 reps with a lower weight.
A thorough elbow extension between reps is essential. Many tendons and soft tissue structures make up the elbow. These affect flexibility. Be sure to stretch if you want your elbows to remain flexible enough to handle your reps without injury.
Take a break - your elbows need them
You might think you're doing your body a favor by working out at the gym every day. In fact, your body needs rest. Lifting weights every day can take a toll on your joints, tendons, and ligaments, and your elbows are no exception.
To prevent injury, you must give your body a chance to rest, recover, and recover after a workout. You don't have to stop exercising entirely -- do a few days of cardio or lighter weight training before you return to your normal weight program. Try a week of unloading by lowering the intensity, number of sets, or a combination of both.
maintain a balanced daily life
Balance is the key to injury prevention. It's the same as giving your body a break: try changing your weightlifting routine to work different arm muscles. Be sure to pay attention to your wrist muscles instead of putting all your attention on standard bilateral and trilateral exercises. Combine wrist curls and reverse wrist curls to strengthen wrist extensors and flexors. Strengthening your wrist and forearm muscles will reduce the pressure on your elbows and reduce the pain you feel when you lift.
Use the correct alignment
Sometimes elbow pain can be caused by improper exercise. Often when lifting weights, elbow pain is not caused by the movement of the elbow, but by the movement of your hand, wrist, and forearm. After all, this is where all these tendons connect. A misaligned wrist can injure the elbow and cause lasting damage.
It's important to pay attention to your posture -- especially if you're doing movements that put stress on your elbows. Make sure everything stays the same when it comes to the resistance line for your workout. Ensuring proper alignment can help reduce stress on the elbow and prevent pain in the long run.
What to do if your elbow hurts
Your best bet is to prevent elbow pain, but what if you've already experienced it? Before starting any treatment, you should consult your doctor or physical therapist to determine what is causing your elbow pain. However, you can relieve the symptoms of elbow pain in the following ways.
For elbow tendinitis, heat may be better than ice, although ice may help relieve pain in the short term. Applying heat to a sore elbow helps increase blood flow and bring nutrients to the area, which aids in the healing process. When heating, be sure to avoid direct contact with the skin. Your best bet is to use a moist heat pack and place it around your elbows and forearms.
Flex the wrist with wrist flexor stretch
Stretching your wrists and shoulders can help relieve elbow pain.
Take time to stretch
If you have an elbow injury, a little stretch may help relieve some symptoms. Flexion and extension help promote tendon mobility and flexibility. Since the elbow tendons extend all the way to the hand, stretching the wrist in both directions can relieve elbow pain and release some tension. Don't forget to include the shoulders when stretching, as the upper body can lose mobility when there is a problem with the elbows. You want to make sure you're not stretching too hard - these stretches shouldn't hurt!
Consider a stand
Wearing a brace can also help relieve elbow pain. Depending on the type of elbow pain you are considering, you may benefit from a reaction brace. A reaction brace is a small strap worn on the forearm to spread the force of the muscle before it reaches the elbow. Make sure you have the proper stent - you don't want it to be so tight that it cuts off blood circulation.
Also, you might consider a wrist brace. Immobilizing the wrist allows the muscles to rest—while also putting them in a good healing position. Proper wrist health and alignment can play a role in relieving elbow pain. For best results, always wear wrist braces when lifting weights, even if the weights are light, especially when lifting weights overhead. Continued wear will help prevent injury, prevent muscle strain, and give you a better grip on barbells and dumbbells.
Avoid arm isolation exercises
If resting during a workout isn't possible, try limiting exercises that isolate a single joint (in this case, the elbow), such as bicep curls and triceps rebounds. Instead, focus on full-body workouts until your elbows are back in good working order. These include pull-ups, push-ups, bench presses, and bodyweight rows. Strengthening other upper body muscles will help stabilize the elbow joint and tendons. You might be surprised how quickly your elbow pain goes away when you simply change your routine.
reduce grip strength
You don't have to stop lifting weights completely when you have elbow pain. Relieving pain can be as simple as modifying your equipment while lifting weights. The best way is to reduce your grip strength. A lot of people don't realize the effect the grip has on the elbow. But come to think of it, conditions like tennis elbow and golfer's elbow involve a constant grip on a device, whether it's a tennis racket or a golf club.
Swap dumbbells for barbells when doing curls
Try swapping out barbells for dumbbells. In exercises like the bench press or bicep curl, dumbbells don't lock the elbows into place. They provide more grip. Choose a device with a thick handle or rod, or consider a wrist-mounted grip.
All of these factors can reduce stress on the elbows.
Another great swap is the classic straight bar for the EZ Curl Bar. When doing curls, this piece of equipment puts your body in a more natural position as you lift. This better alignment makes the exercise safer with less elbow pain.
Make sure to take care of those elbows when you're working hard to lift and train. Are you experiencing elbow pain? It's a good idea to consult your doctor before continuing your regular exercise routine. Arm yourself with an effective physical therapy routine and post-workout recovery plan every time you hit the gym.