T Nation

Conquering Tendonitis of the Tricep


Everyone is quick to tell you how squats will destroy your back, knees or neck or whatever.

What no one ever tells you is how skull crushers and deep tricep movements are going to ruin your elbows.

Damn I fear that if i keep going at this rate i'll have to give up tricep isolations forever.

even when doing light over head dumbbell extensions for sets of 15-20 it's so painful

just ordered some neoprene sleeves

no this is not tennis elbow or golfers elbow. It's deep where the tricep connects into your elbow.

and to make this more relevant to the bodybuilding section rather than rehab
any wonderful
bodybuilding movements that do not irritate your tricep tendonitis, but still seem very worth while when trying to get that sexy horse shoe?



Voodoo floss bands helped my elbows out a lot, so trying the protocol in the video may be worth a shot for you. I just went ahead and bought the bands from Rogue, but using a bike inner tube would do the same thing. Good luck!


I'm experiencing this as well... AGAIN! Last time I had it took 9 months to heal.

It's so bad that even resting my elbows on my desk causes pain.
The past week off didn't help one bit. Now I'm weaker, smaller, in pain, and pissed off. lol

Skull Crushers are out of the question. However, I can do Push-Downs if I warm up, ramp up.

Also, Kickbacks seem to be pain-free.

Try to be creative in working around the pain. You may not make the gains you want, but at least you're still in the game and at least maintaining.


I'm in the same boat. Is the pain at the tip of the elbow? If so, it's probably triceps insertion tendonitis. According to what appears to be everyone who knows, the only thing you can do is rest the injured elbow/s, use ice, and NSAIDs. I'm also considering protein rich plasma therapy ("PRP"). Google it. My orthopedist tells me that he's had great results with PRP in healing tendonitis.


I had similar pain, and loss of full flexion and extension, about 18 months ago. Got so bad I couldn't bend my arm enough to reach my face to shave. Turns out, I have arthritis and calcium deposits in the elbow. A couple cortisone shots has relieved some of the pain, and returned most of the flexibilty, but I still have about 20% loss. I keep it wrapped while lifting and most exercises are tolerable. Skull crushers or any tricep isolation work it out of the question though. Thankfully dips and presses are possible.


I'm currently experimenting with self-administered prolotherapy to resolve my chronic tricep tendonitis issues.

Used to be so bad I couldn't relax my bicep while standing because of the pinching at my olecranon.


Just wondering if you have made any progress on your tricep tendinopathy. I'm wondering because these can be notoriously difficult to rehab.

Also has anyone tried doing skull crushers as a way to rehabilitate triceps tendinopathies. It may sound weird as that was probably what caused it in the first place but eccentrics have been found to be very effective in other tendionpathies.


I've read several articles describing that way of rehabbing. I fear trying it, though!

It's been said that tendon repair takes 3 months minimum to heal (depending on severity)... which is the same amount of time the eccentrics therapy boasts taking! My guess is that the therapy doesn't heal the tendon, rather it keeps the muscles strong and from wasting, while allowing the tendon to go through exercise that causes the least friction as it heals.

My 2 cents.


I've been through this.

About 2 years ago I had similar issue almost spring out of nowhere while doing (way too heavy) skull crushers. Was a real bummer because it was the first time I was actually making solid gains in the gym.

Anyways, after alot of research and doctors telling me it would never be back at 100%, I looked into PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections. Was only one place that did it here in Sydney that I managed to locate, and they only ever had treated people with issues with achilles tendon.

After only a few injections the results were quite dramatic. Along with alot of TLC and rest I was able to get back in the gym and train close to how I used to before - although avoiding most extension movements with heavy load.

Other than that, make sure to cycle your exercise selections properly to allow the muscles around the area to get some time off, warm up extensively before exercise (and whenever you can, really), get your fish oils in (I also take stuff like glucosamine), and be careful in the gym. I attribute a combination of not warming up properly and going way too heavy on extension exercises to fucking up my elbow. No room for ego lifting where health and longevity is concerned.

I am tempted to go back for another round of injections to see if I can get it even better... maybe later down the track.


As mentioned by ID and few others, time is the biggest factor with tendon recovery. This is mainly due to the fact that tendons are starved of direct blood supply, losing out on nutrients needed for recuperation.

PRP injects the nutrient rich blood directly to where it's needed, thus improving recovery time. Seems like a straight-forward approach, one of the reasons which attracted me to trying it out in the first place.


Excellent advice.


my elbow tendonitis is killing me this year as said above, most of triceps exercises are out nowadays, but band press downs are helping a lot.

and Dumbbell kickbacks are the salvation if you can't do pretty much anything.


This is all great advice.

I have a similar ongoing issue. Pre-training, I rub some of that ointment on it that smells funny and minty, and has that deep heat radiating into your skin effect. It’s called MOOV where I get it. Look it up. Good stuff, works. Sometimes I would also apply Voltral (NSAID cream). Then I wrap my elbow in an elbow sleeve and head over to the gym.

Right after taking a shower and having my post workout meal, I ice it for about 20 mins. Other than this, I always avoid skull-crushers or any kind of dumbell movement where you press it upwards, in a vertical or horizontal position. Cable or rope press downs are fine, so are kickbacks, dips and close grip presses. It’s actually the inside tendon of my right elbow. When I bend my arm, you can actually see the swollen tendon sticking out like a mountain peak. Will post a pic if I can. Forearm work seems to thwart the pain.

I made a post about this about a month back I think, you should check it out. Pretty valuable feedback there.


Need some help bro … Been suffering from triceps tendonitis since a year now …


I’ve had pretty bad tricep tendonitis but I’ve gotten rid of it, it took couple of things:

I stopped doing any heavy tricep work for a week (for me this is mostly compound pressing and dips, I don’t bodybuild). This helped alleviate immidiate pain.

Found out what didn’t hurt: suprisingly I was left with dips. Did them for few weeks, started adding weight, introduced overhead presses, and after 8 weeks back to benching.

Biggest single thing for me was taking a critical look at my technique. What I noticed was that I had a tendency to start the concentrics of my pressing movements “with my elbows”. Trying to be as explosive as possible, putting huge stress with every initiation of the lift and doing high volume presses and benches was what caused the problem. I practiced starting the lifts more evenly (all the “bench with/from your lats” etc. powerlifting cues started to make sense), and now I’m virtually pain free.

But, I don’t do any isolation work really, so I can’t comment on that.

Repetitive Movements Also Cause Tendonitis