Cycling & Elbow Soreness

BMX biker Airborne

One complaint bicyclists often have after a rough or long bike ride is that their elbows are sore. Developing soreness at the elbows can occur when you ride over uneven terrain for long periods. Soreness can also develop if you use bad posture on your bike. Riding with proper posture helps reduce the adverse effects that jarring can have on your elbows. Generally, sore elbows are nothing to worry about -- but in some cases, a visit to the doctor might be in order.

Elbow Soreness

Most cases of elbow soreness are no cause for concern, but if you continue to experience soreness long after your bike ride, you should speak to your doctor. Chronic elbow soreness is indicative of tendinitis. In the case of bicyclists, elbow tendinitis is not uncommon due to extensive jarring when riding. This condition is typically marked by pain at the elbow joint during physical activity, as well as when at rest. The tendons at the elbow become tender and can ache at night.


Soreness is best treated with rest. You should not ride your bicycle or perform other physical tasks that place strain on your elbow until the soreness has completely subsided. Rest allows for the inflamed tendons at the elbow to recover, though over-the-counter pain relievers, such as those that contain aspirin or ibuprofen, can help reduce inflammation, as well as any pain, more rapidly. In severe tendinitis cases, your doctor might prescribe mild physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening the tendon and muscles near the elbow helps the tendon recover and reduces the potential for reoccurring inflammation.

Bad Posture

In many cases, soreness at the elbow in bicycling comes from bad posture. The primary mistake is locking the elbows when grasping the handlebar grips. The combination of jarring from riding and the pressure of your upper-body weight forcing downward on your arms places a lot of strain on your elbows. This type of posture can be particularly bad for you if you are riding trails, such as those used for mountain biking. The relentless bumping and vibrating can quickly take a toll on your elbows if they are in a locked position.

Good Posture

Grasp the grips on the handlebar of your bicycle as you would normally. Lean slightly forward and create a slight bend at your elbows. Keep your back straight and use your biceps and triceps to support your upper-body weight. In this position, your arms are able to bend and act as a shock absorbers when you ride your bike over bumps. Instead of your elbows, your arm muscles take the brunt of any jarring. If you still experience elbow soreness, stop riding. You might need more time to fully allow the tendons in your elbow to heal before you can be physically active again.