Elbow Pain From Lifting – The Best 8 Treatments For A Better Recovery

By Marshall Evans | Exercises & Tips

Jul 05
elbow pain from lifting

Have you ever had elbow pain from lifting before? If you’ve had that kind of pain before, you must have known what it feels like. Trust me, it is extremely bad when you can’t do most exercises, especially ones related to the upper body. Even when it comes to daily routines and activities, it’s very difficult for you. So, what should you do to treat the pain? Let’s find down with me in this article.


Causes And Types Of Elbow Pain From Lifting

Overall, there are many causes of elbow pain in our daily life, but in weightlifting, it’s all about your daily routines and how you train. Keep in mind that nothing happens without a reason. Therefore, you have the pain maybe because you’re lifting too heavy when doing dumbbell bench press or you’re not performing the exercise properly.

Or maybe this is because of your nutritional deficiency like a lack of calcium or vitamin D, so on. Besides, you can prevent elbow pain from lifting by using elbow sleeves - very useful gym equipment for work out.

Anyways, here are the 3 most common types of elbow pain from lifting you should know:

Golfer’s elbow

When it comes to weight lifting, this is the most common reason for elbow pain. I know you may be like: “I’m not playing golf so how can I suffer from golfer’s elbow?” Am I right? Well, do not let the name fool you. Just because you’re not a golfer doesn’t mean you can’t have this condition.

In details, frequent up and down motions can make the tendons of your forearm and triceps scrape against the ulna of your elbow repeatedly. Therefore, this will result in pain as well as inflammation.

Tennis elbow or tendonitis

This is another common elbow issue and it is mainly resulted from pushing during exercises, specially in the gym using adjustable bench. You may have this when the bone on the radius side of your forearm (lateral epicondyle) rubs against the tendons of your triceps.


This is likely to happen to lifters who have been lifting weight for a very long time without proper techniques. Remember that your elbow joints can become stressed over time and the joint inflammation may cause elbow pain.

How To Prevent Elbow Pain When Lifting Weight

Now, you already know what may cause your elbow pain, so it’s possible for you to figure out how to prevent it, right? Well, it’s very simple.

  • First, remember to warm up before every workout and stretch after. This is actually one of the most common reasons why you have pain from lifting. Therefore, do not be too excited to lift the weights without warming up before and stretching after workouts.
  • Second, please make sure you are working out with the right weights which you can handle till the last rep, for example when you do the barbell bench press. I know we all have to keep pushing ourselves forwards and try not to be too conservative. 

However, you can do more harm than good if you keep increasing the weights without being able to lift it properly. This all depends on you so you have to contain yourself and find the proper weights.

  • Third, pay attention to your form and techniques when doing every exercise, especially upper body exercises. Make sure you do all exercises through a full range of motion to prevent muscle imbalances

Also, you need to balance the volume of pushing and pulling movements as well. Besides, it’s important to improve your rotator cuff and upper back that affect how your muscles act on your elbow.

elbow pain from lifting

What are some common treatments for your elbow pain?

Now, let’s move on to the main part of the article. The question is: “What should you do when you already have elbow pain from lifting?” Don’t worry because here are the 8 best ways to treat it:

1. Rest

One of the simplest and maybe the most effective ways for a sore elbow is to rest. Maybe you don’t need to stop lifting altogether. In fact, you can train your legs until the pain is gone.

However, in some situations, the elbow pain can be so severe that you have to stay away from weights. Even when you’re training legs, your elbow can totally be affected one way or another. Briefly, in those cases, I don’t know what you want to do but the first thing you have to do is rest.

elbow pain from lifting

2. Stretch your wrist flexors and elbow

Remember that if your shoulders, elbows, and wrists are too tight, the soft tissue around these areas will be damaged. Therefore, it is necessary for you to stretch those areas in order to improve the quality of the soft tissue. In my experiences, for a sore elbow, the elbow and wrist flexors stretch is highly recommended. To do the stretch, you need to extend the elbow and wrist and pull them into greater extension gently with the other hand.

elbow pain from lifting

3. Limit Arm Isolation Exercises

If you still want to lift, just try to limit arm isolation as much as possible. In other words, you need to some single joint exercises from your workout routine such as tricep kickbacks, bicep curls, and shoulder flies. Trust me because isolating the elbow joint is one of the fastest ways to make the pain worse.

Instead, there is a long list of alternative compound exercises for you to choose for each muscle group. I mean you don’t always have to do isolation exercises for muscle growth, do you?

4. Heat

If the elbow pain from lifting is chronic and has been continued for about 1 or 2 weeks, put a moist hot pack around it. This method will help bring your blood flow as well as nutrients to the sore area, thus, speeding up the healing process. Besides, remember to prevent the heat from contacting directly with the skin.

5. Ice

elbow pain from lifting

If you don’t want to use the heat from a hot pack, just try applying ice to the elbow. This will help minimize inflammation to the damaged tissue, therefore, alleviating the pain. It is highly recommended to ice your elbow for about 15-20 minutes each time and do it 3-4 times a day. Keep in mind that icing more than 20 minutes at a time can actually make your condition worse.

6. Swap the Barbell for Dumbbells

elbow pain for lifting

I know this will be hard for you if you are a bench press addict. However, switching to dumbbells temporarily can be the best way to ease the elbow pain from lifting.

It is the fact that most of us possess asymmetries or imbalances to some extent. We all have a dominant side, don’t we? If you have shoulder motion imbalances, exercises such as dumbbell shoulder press or dumbbell bench press will be your best bet. This way, your both arms have to lift equal amounts, thus, reducing your risk of muscle imbalances.

7. Supplement with Omega-3s

To reduce inflammation, you should use fish oil or Omega-3s. This supplement can help you reduce the formation and swelling of scar tissue in your elbow. You can also get more Omega-3s naturally from walnuts, fish, flax seeds, etc. However, the problem is that fish is not always available, right? Therefore, sprinkling chia or flex seeds on breakfast or salads is the best and simplest way to take fish oil daily.

8. Compression

Another way to treat elbow pain from lifting is compression. In fact, almost every lifter chooses to compress their sore elbow in an elastic bandage to lessen the pain. Just like icing, compression can help reduce inflammation of the affected tissue, relieving discomfort. Even when the pain subsides, you still need to continue to wrap the elbow, especially before workouts to prevent further pain.

elbow pain from lifting

Instead of an elastic bandage, there are other options for you to minimize the load on the affected elbow. You can totally use a compression elbow sleeve or forearm strap. An elbow sleeve can protect your elbow due to the heat and compression. Nonetheless, a forearm strap helps dissipate the force from other muscles, so that it can’t reach your elbow. In my opinion, these gears are beneficial to relieve the load from weight lifting.

Final Thought

In conclusion, elbow pain is dangerous and common. However, just because you have sore elbow doesn’t mean you can’t workout anymore. As long as you know how to deal with it, there will be nothing serious. Hopefully, you guys enjoyed my articles and found my tips helpful to manage your elbow pain.


About the Author

Hello everyone, I’m Marshall Evans and welcome to AestheticGuys.com. I love fitness so I spent years searching for training and nutrition tips to get in shape. I really want to share my experiences and all my tips with anyone who cares about health and fitness, that’s why I started AestheticGuys.com in 2017. Through the blog, I will have a chance to write about everything I want to share with you guys to make you love fitness more and help you get an aesthetic body.