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Elbow Pain from Pull Ups

Bidisha Mukherjee Aug 23, 2020
Elbow pain from pull ups is a sign of an injury that may have an adverse effect on the range of motion of the elbow joint. Read this story to develop a better understanding on how to deal with the problem of elbow pain resulting from pull ups.
Elbow is one of the vital body joints that enables us to perform movements like flexion and extension of the lower part of the hand. Thus, it is involved for carrying out activities like pulling, pushing, lifting of objects, etc. It has quite a complex structure. It has three bones namely, the humerus, the radius, and the ulna.
Then there are muscles and ligaments that provide adequate support to the joint. Elbow pain after pull ups is an indication that the joint is irritated. It can happen to beginners who are doing the exercise for the first time and do not know the right technique.
However, that does not mean that experienced people who are doing this exercise for quite some time now do not face this problem. Take a look at the info given below to know about causes of elbow pain and how to cure it.

What Causes Elbow Pain from Pull Ups?

Pull up is an exercise involving the upper extremity of the body that involves a number of muscles of the body which include the back muscles and biceps. During the exercise, the elbow joint is flexed around 150 degrees and the body is pulled above the bar with muscular effort while the wrist remains stationary.
Thus, to carry out this movement, the shoulder, wrist and elbows must work in coordination. If you have started doing the exercise recently, it could be possible that the shoulder, wrist and elbows are not properly coordinated because of which, additional load is placed on the elbow joints and tendons.
Those who have weak or underdeveloped forearm muscles get this problem because the muscles cannot bear the pressure of the entire body weight. As a result, the extra weight is borne by the elbow joints when they are bent for exercising. This causes injury to the soft tissues of the elbow joint.
In case you are regularly doing pull ups, the cause behind the pain is something different. Sometimes, the triceps, attached to the elbow joint, get fatigued and if you have not done proper warm up, then the muscles may get strained during this kind of strenuous activity like pull ups.
Thus, you feel pain in the elbow. Some people complain that they are feeling the pain in the inner part of the elbow while gripping the pull up bar. The pain gets aggravated when they try to flex the wrist towards the forearm.
This characteristic of the pain suggests that there is an inflammation in the tendons, which is caused by repeated stress or overuse of the joint. This condition is also known as golfer's elbow where the soft tissues of the tendon get irritated because they are subjected to stress repeatedly.

Healing Elbow Pain

No matter whether the elbow pain is mild or severe, you should suspend exercising for the time being. Any such activities that aggravate the pain should be avoided too. The more you rest the injured elbow joint, the faster will be the recovery. During this time, keep applying ice to the area, which can reduce the swelling in the tissues.
For a severe pain, over the counter pain relieving medicines can be taken after asking your doctor. Wrap the elbow with an elastic bandage to minimize stress on them. If range of motion of the elbow joint has been affected because of the pain, then you can go in for physical therapy.
The physical therapist will help you out with some mild stretching exercises that can improve your joint mobility and flexibility.
Once the pain subsides completely, you can resume pull up exercises. To begin with, use elbow wrap or wrist strap to keep the elbow joint stable. Do not forget to warm up properly before you start with pull ups. Beginners should take assistance from a personal trainer to learn the correct technique for the exercise. Those with a history of elbow pain should not perform pull up exercises daily. Such people should also cut down on their reps in order to avoid recurrence of painful elbows.
Usually, the elbow pain from pull ups subsides within 3-4 days but you should not start exercising for the next three weeks to ensure full recovery. In case the pain refuses to subside after 3 days of home treatment, then you must visit your doctor. Similarly, if the pain relapses after you resume exercising, then in this case too, medical intervention is needed.