Elbow Pain: Treating and Preventing

It’s inevitable not to get some aches and pains once you start hitting some new records. As your devotion to the gym increases, strength and size follows. Anyone who has broken and old bench or deadlift record knows how gratifying it is. It easily becomes an addiction. You continuously add more weight to the bar.

Overtime, continuous training can put some serious wear and tear on your joints. This is especially true for elbows. Pushing 315 off your chest puts a lot of pressure on them. The same goes for pulling 405 off the ground and maintaining a good grip to lock out. But what do you do if you have chronic elbow pain.

GRIP

Some may not associate elbow pain with a weak grip, but it’s true. The muscles responsible for clenching your fist attach to your inner elbow on the humerus. After a few months to years of deadlifts, rows, flies, pull ups, and pull downs, the tendons connecting the muscles to the bone can become inflamed.

PRESSING/ EXTENDING

People perform more presses and elbow extension movements than they may realize. Anything from military press, bench press, to triceps push down, you’re extending your arms a decent amount of time. Even squatting requires a good bit of upward force from your hands to help stabilize the bar.

TREATING

If you experience ongoing pain, the first thing you should do is take some time off. Time off seems like a drag, but it’s better to recover from a minor pain for a week or two than to get hurt and be out for even longer.

Trying to “train through” the pain can end up exacerbating the pain. What could be simple inflammation could lead to more serious injuries.

-HEAT

Applying heat to the elbow will increase blood flow to it. This will allow a smooth range of motion with less pain. Heat works best when applied before any moves or stretches. Apply for no longer than 15 minutes.

TIP: Use a towel to help insulate your heat pack. This helps isolate the area even more and creates a snug fit.

It also helps to keep a slight bend in the elbow with the heat. Doing so keep blood flow moving without a bent elbow limiting it.

-MASSAGE

Massages work best shortly after heat is removed. Like heat, massaging the area also increases blood flow to the area. It also breaks up adhesions, can work out scar tissue, and reduces the likelihood of muscle spasms.

Massage the sore area this three times a day. Use a firm yet comfortable pressure. Vary up the duration from 5-10 minutes as you see necessary.

-STRETCHING

Stretches are used to help keep muscle spasms at bay, decrease risk of injury, and “wake up” nerves. Performing a certain stretch can decrease elbow pain for grip.

 

IMG_0030

Wrist extension stretch

This stretch will elongate the muscles of the forearm responsible for clenching your fist. Doing so will increase elasticity, decreasing the likelihood of a tear. Pull back on your fingers right before you feel discomfort and hold. Perform at least 5 times for a 15 second hold.

MOVEMENT

Move your elbow through its natural range of motion. In other words, perform biceps curls and then relax your arm. Doing this will activate muscles and nerves while lubricating the joint.

 

IMG_0033

Elbow Extension

 

IMG_0034

Elbow flexion

TIP: Don’t use resistance with this when starting out. Whether you can curl 80s in each hand or not, it’s best just to move the joint. As time goes on and pain lessens, add a few pounds and continue.

-ICE

Ice is often recommended AFTER the massages, stretches, and movements are performed. This is to reduce any inflammation the movements or stretches may have caused. Ice is not mandatory, though. If you found heat works best, use it before and after.

TIP: If you want a more custom fit ice bag, mix ice water and rubbing alcohol in a plastic bag. Make the ratio ¾ ice water and the rest rubbing alcohol. The alcohol keeps the water cold longer with less bulky ice. Thus creating a more custom fit.

Never apply the bag on bare skin. Snag a towel and keep it between the bag and the skin.

Take it slow if you experience pain. Worse comes to worse, visit your local doctor and they may send you for a bit of physical therapy. They can help you with different techniques to treat your specific ailment.

Getting Back To It

Some people get back into the swing of things within a few days to weeks off. Either way, if you want to stay away from relapsing, there are some training tools you can use to help keep you breaking records, not tendons.

Fat Gripz

fatgripz 

Fat Gripz introduce a larger diameter to the bar via a high-density compound that clamps to the bar. Compared to the standard 1 inch diameter bar, Fat Gripz increase that to 2 to 3 inch thick diameters. By being clamped on the bar in desired locations, it allows a tight grip but with less clenching. In return, the tendons aren’t pulled as tight, and your likelihood for pain decreases. It’s also said thicker grips allow more muscle fiber activation, strengthening your grip and building up overall arm strength.

Elbow Sleeves

elbowsleeve 

Sleeves have served many people help over the years. Whether they’re elbow or knee sleeves, the benefits people have had with them prove they work.

Sleeves work via compression. This compression provides support for the selected joint. The compression also provides warmth and, in consequence, supports blood flow and reduces swelling. Regular training while wearing these can help keep pain at bay.

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