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Elbow Pain from Weightlifting

Ujwal Deshmukh Nov 3, 2018
Weightlifting may cause elbow pain if the workout is done in an inappropriate manner, or it could also occur due to overuse of muscles. Let us read about the causes in greater detail.
Elbow pain from weightlifting is commonly experienced by amateur weightlifters, but even those who are engaged in heavy weightlifting for a long time can suffer from this problem. A common cause behind the pain is lifting heavy weights. This happens more with beginners who intend to gain muscle quickly and start lifting weights heavier than they should.
It happens with experienced people too, who have been doing weightlifting and over a period of time. Continuous heavy weightlifting starts affecting the elbow joints. Another important reason for elbow pain is imbalance while lifting weights.

Types of Elbow Pain from Weightlifting

Elbow pain from weightlifting can occur in different parts of the elbows, and pain in each of these parts is known by different names. Let us have a look at the different types.

Golfer's Elbow

Golfer's elbow is a sort of elbow pain that occurs in the ulna side of the elbow. Golfer's elbow happens on account of rubbing of the tendons in the triceps and forearms against the ulna part of the elbow. This eventually results in inflammation and pain in the area.
The most common weightlifting exercises that cause golfer's elbow are triceps presses, dumbbell flyes, and bicep curls, which involve frequent up and down movement of the elbows.

Tendinitis (Tennis Elbow)

This problem is experienced mostly due to the pulling and pushing movements of the elbows during certain exercises. Tendinitis occurs when the lateral epicondyle (a bone on the radius side of the forearm) is rubbed against the tendons of the forearms and triceps.

Pain in Front of the Elbow

People who over-train or perform more workouts on the biceps are more prone towards pain in the frontal part of the elbow. Exercises such as the preacher curls, bicep curls, hammer curls, and incline curls, performed either with barbells or dumbbells, exert a lot of strain in the frontal region of the elbow.

Pain Due to Arthritis

Many people who have been into weightlifting since a long time can develop arthritis in the elbow region, which could then act as a precipitating factor for inflammation and pain in the elbow joints. The joints in the elbows are stressed the most in exercises such as overhead triceps.

Pain Above the Elbow

Pain above the elbow is actually characterized by pain in the lower area of the triceps, which gets overworked or stressed out due to undue pressure put on it. Most people who indulge in long and intense workouts of seated and standing dips can suffer from pain above the elbow region. Excessive workouts or bench press can also result into such an elbow pain.

Treatment for Elbow Pain

Elbow pain is a normal phenomenon in weightlifters, however, prompt treatment and curative measures can prevent the problem from getting aggravated. Here are some treatment options for elbow pain from weightlifting.

Ice Treatment

One of the most commonly followed treatment is the ice treatment. Ice relieves stress and inflammation up to a large extent, and therefore applying ice after a 20 - 30 minute interval would prove effective and ease the elbow pain.

Proper Weights

See that you check the weight before lifting it. Do not increase the weight unless you are confident about lifting it correctly. Know your limits and increase the weights slowly, so as to avoid serious injuries to the elbows. The best way is to make sure that an expert is guiding you.

Correct Balance

Always learn to balance the weights evenly before going in for any workout. Try with lighter weights or probably empty barbells, so that you get an idea of balancing heavier weights.

Proper Position and Technique

It is of utmost importance that the proper technique is followed while doing weight training. Proper posture and positioning of the hands is something that needs to be adhered to strictly.


Rest is the most effective treatment of all. Sometimes, the elbow pain is so serious that it doesn't allow you to lift anything. In such cases, rest at home for some days. Once the pain subsides, you can hit the gym again. But remember, start with lighter weights, otherwise the injury would worsen in the long run.
You need to consult a weightlifting trainer and get a proper weightlifting workout prescribed with appropriate weights and right techniques according to your body type and strength, to avoid elbow pain. The aforementioned treatments are safe and generally effective. However, if pain persists for a long time, get it treated with proper medical intervention.
Disclaimer: The information provided is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.