Elbow Tendonitis & Weight Lifting
The tendons of your elbow connect the surrounding muscles to your bones. When you engage in frequent, repetitive movements, these tendons can become inflamed, swollen and painful, resulting in a condition known as elbow tendonitis. This condition is common in athletes and, depending on the area of inflammation, also is known as tennis, golfer’s or thrower’s elbow. Knowing how weightlifting affects your elbow tendons can help you avoid this condition.
Practicing proper form is important to both preventing and treating elbow tendonitis related to weightlifting, according to IDEA Health & Fitness Association. Using improper form can place extra strain on your muscles, joints and tendons. To ensure your form is not causing elbow tendonitis, seek advice from a fitness professional who can evaluate and correct improper form.
Treatment – Stage 1
When you first experience weightlifting-related elbow tendonitis, take steps to relieve inflammation. Use the RICE treatment method at the onset of pain, according to iTendonitis website. This involves Resting, Icing, Compressing and Elevating the affected elbow. Swap heavy weightlifting for stretching and low-impact conditioning until your symptoms subside. While this amount of time varies based on your condition, rest allows the tendon to repair itself, ensuring you can engage in future exercises.
Treatment – Stage 2
When your elbow has healed and you experience little to no pain, specific training exercises can help strengthen the elbow joint. Exercises include wrist extension, which involves holding a resistance tube and moving the wrist up and down for 10 to 12 repetitions and three sets, according to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association. Forearm supination and pronation also strengthens the joint. To perform, hold a light dumbbell — one to five pounds — in one hand. Bend the arm at the elbow to a 90-degree angle with palm of that hand facing the ground. Now rotate the wrist so the palm faces up. Return to your starting position and repeat five times for three sets. Shoulder strengthening and arm stretching exercises to increase flexibility and range of motion also can help.
Prevent future bouts of weightlifting-related elbow tendonitis by always warming up and cooling down with stretching and light aerobic activity before a weightlifting session, according to iTendonitis. Always lift weights that are within your strength capabilities. Lifting weights that are too heavy can place greater strain on the elbow. Stretch after each set to relieve tension, according to the Up To Date website. Wearing weightlifting gloves during your weightlifting sessions also can help to reduce tension while holding on to the bar.
If you continue to experience pain, swelling or limited motion of the elbow or your pain is beginning to interfere with daily life, seek a physician’s evaluation, according to IDEA Health & Fitness Association. Your physician can evaluate the severity of tendon damage and may prescribe inflammation-relieving medications. Because tendon pain can be related to rheumatic diseases, seeking evaluation for severe pain is important to ensuring you do not have a more serious condition, according to Up To Date.
- iTendonitis.com: Elbow Tendonitis Information
- UpToDate.com: Elbow Tendinopathy
- IDEA Health & Fitness Association: The Elbow Joint
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Evaluation of Overuse Elbow Injuries
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Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.