Are you fed up with that persistent elbow pain that keeps haunting you whenever you step into the gym or dive into your beloved sports? It’s time to bid farewell to this unwelcome companion, but who wants to endure lengthy recoveries or be sidelined from the game for an eternity?
Is there something I could do at home and get back to my game without delay, you may be thinking? Good News: there is!!
Elbow pain can be a real buzzkill, hindering your progress and stealing away the joy of training, and we understand your frustration.
But fret not because we’ve got you covered with some ultimate tips to help you train around those cranky elbows and get back to the absolute peak performance that you have worked so hard for.
As an athlete or fitness enthusiast, you’ve had your share of the occasional discomfort that creeps up in your elbows. Whether you’re swinging a tennis racket, lifting heavy weights, exercising in any way, or simply going about your daily activities, those twinges of pain can put you off and kill the rhythm of your fitness routine.
While various treatment methods are available for elbow pain and injuries, one effective approach is to adopt a joint-by-joint training strategy. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, let’s first understand what this approach really means and how it can revolutionize your fitness training.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through six excellent tips to help you bypass cranky elbows and train pain-free by exploring the joint-by-joint technique. From proper warm-ups to targeted exercises and smart modifications, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get back in the game with the same bang.
Let’s get started, then!
What About Your Elbow Pain?
Have you ever wondered why elbows are so prone to injury that sometimes you wake up with pain for no apparent reason at all?
There could be many reasons for this…
Our elbows move a lot and have to carry the weight of our bodies. This constant movement and weight-bearing can strain the tendons and ligaments around the elbow, which then swell up and feel uncomfortable.
And guess what else? The bones in our elbows are small and don’t have much padding, so they can break more easily if we’re not careful. Plus, our elbows have many muscles around them, and when those muscles get tired, they can make our elbows ache.
You hate that nagging ache when you wake up or the discomfort that bothers you throughout the day, and you certainly want to nip it in the bud in whatever way possible. Well, before you reach for those soft tissue treatments or inflammation-reducing supplements, let’s take a step back and consider a different approach.
The truth is, pain in your elbow doesn’t always mean there’s a deep-rooted cellular issue with your muscles or bones. There can also be simpler and easy-to-manage reasons (the happy truth).
Our bodies are incredible machines, capable of adapting and adjusting in ways we can hardly imagine. Pain doesn’t always mean there’s a “BIG” issue simmering in the background that’s sending those Spain waves to a part of the body.
Put my claim in context with multiple studies showing that many folks with so-called “anatomical abnormalities” like disc bulges, labral tears, or spinal stenosis live their lives pain-free. Mind-blowing, right? It tells us that pain is way more complex than just these structural issues alone.
So, what’s the game plan? Before diving headfirst into treatments and supplements, let’s tweak your fitness routine and see if they help.
Programming and technique modifications can work wonders. By making adjustments, addressing imbalances, and fine-tuning your movements with joint- by- joint technique, you might just discover the key to banishing that elbow pain.
Remember, our bodies are adaptable beasts, and our posture and movement have a lot to do with how we feel. So, let’s give it a shot.
Joint-By-Joint Technique for Elbow Pain
The joint-by-joint approach is built on a simple yet powerful concept: for optimal performance, each joint in our body requires a delicate balance of mobility and stability. It’s like finding the sweet spot between being flexible and sturdy.
By adopting this approach, we can identify the unique training needs of each joint and gain a better understanding of where they might be prone to dysfunction. It’s all about recognizing the specific requirements of our joints and taking proactive steps to ensure they function at their best. So, let’s dive into this joint-by-joint approach and unlock the true potential of our remarkable joints!
So, here’s the deal: our body has different joints, right? And each joint has specific needs. When it comes to our elbows, they really like stability. They want to be steady and strong. But guess what? The joints above and below the elbows, like our shoulders and wrists, like to be more flexible and mobile.
Now, sometimes our elbows start to hurt. It could be because the other joints aren’t pulling their weight. Maybe our shoulders are tight, or our wrists are stiff. When these joints don’t move as they should, it puts extra stress on our poor elbows, and that’s when the pain kicks in.
To fix this, we need to focus on the whole upper body. We have to check if our shoulders and wrists have the right range of motion and if they’re stable enough. If they’re not, it’s time to exercise and stretch to improve their mobility. We might also need to strengthen the muscles around our shoulders and wrists to support our elbows better.
Once the surrounding muscles and joints are stronger and more mobile, elbow pain may go on its own since it won’t have to be under extra pressure.
Six Tips for Relieving Your Elbow Pain Without Intervention
Before you start worrying more than you need to and opt for complicated external interventional procedures for your elbow pain, here are six awesome tips to tweak up your fitness routine in a way that takes care of the pain and helps you get back to the game.
1- Opt for a Neutral Grip During Pressing and Pulling
One of the first modifications to consider when dealing with cranky elbows is using a neutral grip during pressing and pulling exercises. This grip position, where the palms face each other, can help alleviate stress on the elbows and distribute the load more evenly.
Using dumbbells or neutral-grip barbells can be effective alternatives to the traditional barbell grip for pressing exercises like bench presses or overhead presses. This is one fabulous yet effortless way of removing elbow pain from bench press.
Similarly, for pulling exercises like rows or pull-ups, utilizing a neutral grip attachment or handles can help reduce strain on the elbows.
SQUAT: Safety Bar Squat, High Bar Squat, Front squat with straps, Front squat with arms crossed
HINGE: Trap Bar Deadlift, Trap Bar RDL, DB RDL
PUSH: Neutral Grip DB Press, Swiss Bar Bench Press, Pushup Variations, DB Floor Press, Trap Bar OHP, Neutral Grip DB Press
PULL: Neutral Grip DB Row, V-Bar Cable Row (Wide and Narrow), Neutral Grip Chinup, V-Bar Pulldown (Wide and Narrow)
GUN SHOW: Swiss Bar Curl, DB Hammer Curl, Cable Rope Hammer Curl, Banded Hammer Curl, Swiss Bar Tricep Extension, DB Tricep Extension
Cable Rope Extension, Banded Tricep Extension
Related Article: 3 Worst Weight-Lifting Mistakes You Should Avoid
2- Use Straps, elbow sleeves, or Modify Your Grip
If your elbows hurt during lifting exercises, you can try using straps or changing the way you hold the weights. Straps can take away the elbow pain from lifting heavy weights. They take some of the pressure off your grip and forearm muscles, which can help elbows feel relaxed and relieved of the duty of supporting heavy lifts.
You can use padded elbow sleeves for support, stability, and comfort. The compression elbow sleeves help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, support the joint with their firm elasticated structure while allowing unobstructed mobility, and ultimately reduce pain and discomfort.
Yet another way to ease the strain on your elbows is to use a different grip, like a thumbless grip when doing exercises like bench press or overhead press. Just remember to be careful and use proper form and safety when using straps or changing your grip.
Related Article: Wrist Wraps, Hooks and Straps, The Everyday Gym Essentials
3- Harness the Power of Irradiation
Irradiation is the phenomenon of generating tension and activating additional muscle groups to enhance stability and strength. By consciously engaging adjacent muscle groups, you can support the elbows and alleviate strain.
For instance, when performing pressing exercises, squeezing the glutes, contracting the core, and gripping the bar tightly can create a sense of full-body tension that aids in reducing stress on the elbows. This technique can be applied to various exercises and serves as an effective tool for enhancing overall strength and joint stability.
Let your muscles think they are getting support from their own kind, and they’ll automatically feel better on their own.
4- Avoid Excessive Cues
While cues are commonly used to enhance exercise technique, it’s important to avoid excessive cues that can possibly strain the elbows (without intending to, though). For example, excessive cues to “tuck the elbows” during bench presses or pull-ups can increase the stress on the elbows, especially if you have pre-existing discomfort.
Instead, You should be focusing on maintaining a natural range of motion that allows for comfortable movement without excessive stress on the elbows. Experiment with some variations (safe variations) in the form to find the optimal position that reduces discomfort but doesn’t compromise proper alignment and muscle activation.
5- Opt for High Bar Squats and Maintain a Loose Grip
Elbow pain can also fire up from squats, especially when you are using a low bar position. Now, you wouldn’t wanna replace weighted squats cuz they work wonders for your glutes; you can simply shift to high-bar squats instead of low-bar ones. Just so you know, in the high bar squats, the barbell rests on the upper traps instead of the lower back.
This shift in bar placement reduces the strain on the elbows and allows for a more upright torso position. Additionally, maintaining a loose grip on the barbell during squats can also help alleviate elbow strain. Focus on lightly supporting the barbell with your hands while primarily relying on your upper back and shoulder muscles for stability.
6- Give your joints some comfort: Go for some Soft Tissue Work
Soft tissue work, such as foam rolling and self-massage techniques, can be beneficial for reducing muscle tension and promoting recovery around the elbows. Use a foam roller or a massage ball to target the muscles in the forearm, triceps, and upper arm region.
Apply gentle pressure and roll or massage the affected areas to help alleviate tightness and improve blood flow. Regular soft tissue work can help in reducing muscle imbalances, relieve discomfort, and maintain overall elbow health.
Elbow pain is not something you can ignore because it’s one crucial joint in all activities. You’ll be disturbed, and there will be a lot of discomfort. You may feel like rushing to a hospital and opting for quick surgical/medical fixes, but it isn’t always this serious. Little tweaks in your fitness routine may very well get you rid of this pain. The blog post above discusses six amazing ways of managing and relieving your elbow pain. Give them a try; they may save you from medical treatments altogether.