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Elbow Pain from Face Pulls

Hi all. Long time member turned lurker here.

(tl,dr version at the bottom of this post)

Anyways, just like the title says: I hurt (injured?) my right elbow doing my beloved face pulls. Here are the particulars:

-Purpose: Strengthen the scapulae and correct hunched shoulders
-Regimen: bilateral Face Pulls twice a week near the end of upper back/rotator cuff session
-Protocol: 4-5 sets of 6-8 straight reps @~130lbs, tempo 3011, rope handle
-Form: high cable to crown of head, close grip (palms facing)

Towards the end of my most recent face pull session, I suddenly felt a sharp pain along the back of my elbow, while at the top of the face pull – near the ‘capitulum’, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humerus. But when I stopped and tested various movements, I found that I had pain on the inside of my elbow during elbow flexion (preacher curls, chins).

In retrospect, I was probably doing too much volume and neglected the antagonist motion (resembling an overhead triceps cable press, elbows flared 45 deg.). I’ve been doing ‘scap jack’ face pull/tri presses for the last week, which seems to be working well enough, but will this be enough to support my elbow when I start to go heavier on face pulls again?

Thanks for your thoughts.

-Glee

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TL,DR: HURT MY ELBOW DOING FACE PULLS. IT NOW HURTS WHEN DOING CURLS. HOW DO I REHAB IT AND STRENGTHEN THE ELBOW SO I DON’T RE-INJURE IT?

Face pulls are a horrid fad-exercise. I would never instruct someone to do them. :frowning:

I’d guess too much weight. Try these as rehab or prehab, focusing on form. These strengthen small muscles and are not intended to build mass or strength. Maybe some definition results but that’s about it.

4-5 sets of 6-8 reps of facepulls? Too much volume IMO. I normally use them as a finisher exercise and usually rotate them regularly with other scapular based exercises.

In terms of the injury, when you say pain on the inside of the elbow, do you mean the pinky side of your elbow or deep inside the elbow itself?

Thanks for the input, guys. Responses below.

[quote]forevernade wrote:
Face pulls are a horrid fad-exercise. I would never instruct someone to do them. :([/quote]

For someone with healthy shoulders, I’m sure they might be considered redundant. But with all the pushing sports I played compounded with chronic office worker’s syndrome, they’ve been great. They’re a reflexive exercise for my scapulae, as Dan John might put it. I can actually feel my upper back now, and my squats and DLs have benefitted.

[quote]Josann wrote:
I’d guess too much weight. Try these as rehab or prehab, focusing on form. These strengthen small muscles and are not intended to build mass or strength. Maybe some definition results but that’s about it. [/quote]

[quote]LevelHeaded wrote:
4-5 sets of 6-8 reps of facepulls? Too much volume IMO. I normally use them as a finisher exercise and usually rotate them regularly with other scapular based exercises.[/quote]

Yeah, I was afraid that would be the answer. Ah well, I guess I’ll lighten up the load/volume and rotate them with scarecrows and prone trap raises.

[quote]LevelHeaded wrote:
In terms of the injury, when you say pain on the inside of the elbow, do you mean the pinky side of your elbow or deep inside the elbow itself?[/quote]

It feels like the annular ligament. I’m biceps dominant, so I’m thinking that the triceps (specifically the lateral head) may have been relatively too weak to properly stabilize the elbow joint against the torque I was generating by using a neutral grip. I’ll keep doing my scap-jack style face pulls for this (plus the fact that I get some rotary trunk work in at the same time – pretty good for the ol training density).

-Glee