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“My elbows have been hurting since we started this new program” A handful of people have experienced this and I wanted to take a moment to touch on this.

In this article I will go over

  • What muscles are in pain
  • What is causing the pain
  • Why it is hurting
  • How to fix it (both short term & long term)

What Muscles Are In Pain?

Elbow pain can be caused by the forearms, the biceps, the triceps, or a combination.

What Is Causing It To Hurt?

Exercises like the Floor Press and Triceps Extensions place tension on the triceps and the elbow. This tension is a good thing. When you’re using challenging loads these movements will require significant strength and stability in the triceps and its tendons. In particular, the Triceps Extension places high amounts of stress at the elbow joint. Under normal conditions this stress is great, it’s what makes the body become stronger. More on this later.

Exercises like medicine ball lifts will place tension on the forearms and biceps. When you lift the medicine ball your forearms go from having ZERO tension in them (you’re standing there with nothing in your hand) to maximum tension upon pickup. This sudden zap of tension places stress on the forearm muscles and tendons which, if weak and or de-conditioned, can send signals of pain.

Why Is It Hurting?

Well, as with many things, it depends… Blanket statements are rarely true so I want to give you a few reasons why you could be experiencing elbow pain.

  1. NEW VOLUME – when you expose a joint, ligament, and/or tendons to a new amount of volume (sets/reps/weight) they may not be ready for it. Much like going out and running a marathon without training might leave you with some sore hips, knees, and feet, doing a higher volume of work using a body part that hasn’t been trained, or recently trained, can lead to these pains.
  2. TOO MUCH VOLUME – piggybacking off the first point, you could be doing too much volume and you need a rest day. Or, you’ve taken a training hiatus and you’ve jumped back into training using too much weight which is causing those muscles and tendons to flare up a bit.
  3. WEAKNESS – having weak forearms will leave you prone to elbow pain. Cave workouts, especially the Modified Strongman workouts, all have some sort of grip work in them. The more you pick weights up using just your own grip strength the stronger your forearms and elbows will be. If you find yourself always using straps/grippers and you are experiencing elbow pain it might be time to lower the weight and use a weight you can grip so you aren’t relying on straps all the time. This will be a tough pill to swallow but it’s for the long game. In time you will be stronger and more resilient.
  4. WEIGHT SELECTION – you could be just using too much weight for your arms to take right now. If you think you have strong forearms, biceps, and triceps but you are still experiencing pain try lightening the weight 5% and see if you see a difference. If you still experience pain then you actually might in fact have weakness in one of those areas.
  5. LACK OF FLEXIBILITY – pushing a muscle, joint, or tendon through range of motion it’s not capable of will cause pain.

 

How To Fix It?

SHORT TERM FIX – 

Weight – decrease the loads you are lifting. Give your body a break with lighter weights to keep from flaring them up.

Preparation – adequately warm up so those tendons can relax and get some fluidity to them.

Stretch – stretch those muscles before and after training.

LONG TERM FIX – 

Strength – strengthen the muscles that are weak. Spend time after class performing forearm exercises to give them the stimulus they need to get stronger.

Nutrition – Diets that are high in protein, fruits, and veggies will help the body repair itself better after each training session compared to a diet that is high in processed foods and alcohol.

Consistency – breaks in training are sometimes unavoidable, but if you can stay consistent and continue to train your muscles and tendons you will keep them in top shape. This does not mean go crazy… you still need adequate rest days.

 Add These (and exercise like them) To Your Training After Class

 click video below to check these out!