Tips On Preventing And Managing Elbow Pain When Lifting

Tips On Preventing And Managing Elbow Pain When Lifting

If you are a fitness fan and love to lift, one of the biggest worries and risks is elbow damage – it can be painful and severely impact your gym goals. In my latest article I look at various ways to help protect against elbow pain. Continue reading to find out more.

If you lift heavy weights to aid your fitness journey or even do heavy manual work, elbow pain can be a major issue. It can stop you from enjoying your workouts or even completing daily tasks. These factors make it imperative to prevent and manage elbow pain and keep healthy and active.

In the following points, I will examine why elbow pain occurs and how to avoid it. Additionally, I will offer tips on what to do if you already suffer from painful elbows.

Elbow Pain And Lifting

If you lift weights, the risk of elbow pain is very real, especially if you lift too often, fail to warm up your muscles, and practice poor lifting techniques. The following points list symptoms and common causes.

Common Causes

  • Injuries from overuse – If you constantly repeat the same motion repeatedly, you can easily strain your elbow, leading to tendinitis or epicondylitis (commonly known as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow).
  • Poor lifting techniques – learning the correct form when lifting is essential to avoid any extra stress on your elbow. Lifting too heavy and having bad posture can also cause problems.
  • Skipping warm-up and stretching – jumping straight into your weight lifting without warming up can be a considerable risk, and your muscles and tendons can be prone to injury.

Symptoms And Signs Of Elbow Pain

  • Pain on the inside or outside of the elbow
  • Swelling around the elbow joint area
  • Difficulty in moving your elbow without any pain
  • Weakness when trying to grip or lift heavy objects

By learning more about the causes and symptoms, you are already on the correct path to preventing elbow pain and ensuring you can continue to lift weights and enjoy the gym.

Preventing Elbow Pain

Correct Lifting Techniques

Use proper lifting techniques to protect your elbows from damage. Check the following tips for more information.

  • Correct form and posture – check online videos of the different exercises to ensure you lift correctly. Complete the motions smoothly and avoid ‘swinging’ the weights to get those last few reps.
  • Only lift what you can handle – you may be tempted to lift heavier, but this can cause undue stress on your joints and elbow. Instead, start with lighter weights and increase them gradually as your strength builds.
  • Slowly increase weight and intensity – muscle growth and strength build slowly, so allow your body to recover after each workout and increase the weight plates and reps at a slower pace.

Warm-up And Stretching

Always make time to warm up before any heavy lifting, helping to avoid any unwanted injuries.

  • The importance of warming up – A pre-workout warm-up increases blood flow to your muscles, allowing a higher level of flexibility.
  • Effective warm-up exercises for elbows – Light cardio, arm circles, and gentle stretching are great methods for preparing elbows for workouts.
  • Stretching techniques to prevent elbow strain – Stretching your arms and elbows before hitting the gym is essential. Hold each stretch for 15 seconds (try to avoid bouncing).

Gym Equipment And Gear

Invest in quality equipment so that your elbows are fully protected.

  • Supportive gearelbow sleeves and wraps provide much-needed support to your joints and can reduce elbow strain.
  • Selecting the correct equipment – choose the best gear for your body type and strength level, and ensure it is in good condition for use.
  • Equipment maintenance – always maintain your equipment regularly and check it for damage or flaws to ensure its safety.

Managing Elbow Pain

If you already suffer from elbow pain, the following tips will help you to manage it more effectively.

Immediate Relief Measures

  • Rest – allow your elbow time to heal, and avoid any activities or movements that cause pain.
  • Ice – applying ice to the elbow can help to reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Over-the-counter pain relief – medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with pain and inflammation.

Long-Term Management Strategies

  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises – book a session with a professional physical therapist, such as the team at Backcountry Physical Therapy, to learn a variety of exercises to build strength in your elbow and even promote healing.
  • Exercises to strengthen your elbows – Include strength-building exercises, such as forearm rotations and wrist curls, into your workout regime to build added muscle around your elbows.
  • Stick to a workout plan – healing takes time, so do not rush back into heavy lifting. Consistency is key to getting better and avoiding further damage to the elbow area.

Seeking Professional Help

If your elbow pain is severe, then it is vital you make an appointment with your local doctor. The following points showcase when you need to seek medical advice.

  • Persistent or worsening pain – If your elbow pain fails to improve or worsens, check in with your GP.
  • Swelling, redness, or deformity – all vital signs of serious injury to your elbow.
  • Unable to move your elbow – if your elbow is in severe pain from simple movements, it is time to seek advice from a medical specialist.

You can consult several different healthcare professionals about your injury pain, including general practitioners, orthopaedic specialists, and physical therapists. These experts can help you create a treatment plan to help with your elbow pain.

Tips For Maintaining Elbow Health

Here are a selection of great tips to keep your elbows healthy.

  • Regular exercise and conditioning – make sure to keep your muscles flexible and strong by exercising regularly.
  • Balanced diet and staying hydrated – eat healthily and drink plenty of water.
  • Listen to your own body – note any signs of overuse and take breaks if necessary to recover.
  • Rest and recovery – always include rest days in your workout (such as relaxing at home), allowing your muscles to recover and promote growth and giving your joints enough time to recover from intense training.


Always be mindful of elbow pain, as it can become a massive issue throughout your workout journey if ignored or left untreated, setting you back for months if unlucky.
Using the advice in this article, you now have the knowledge to train safely and effectively to defend yourself from elbow pain and injuries. Even so, always remember to enjoy your time at the gym and reach your workout goals.
What are your thoughts on my latest fitness article? Let me know in the comments below.


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