T Nation

Elbow Strengthening/Rehab Stuff


#1

Much to my chagrin I have developed what seems to be tendinitis in both elbows. I think it was caused by high volume shoulder width grip pull-ups combined with my squat grip/pulling elbows forward to keep my chest up.

Anyway, I've widened my grip for pull-ups and widened my grip for squats and stopped pulling my elbows forward. That makes squats and pull-ups bearable and my elbows are improving BUT I know that's just a bandaid fix.

I need to make my elbows stronger, which as far as I know means some sort of curls and tricep extensions. I had a thought that concentrated curls and cable tricep pull downs for lower weight but higher reps would help strength the connective tissue, which is really what I need.

Reasonable? Is there something better I could be doing?


#2

I had problems with my elbows. Turned out I was doing too much work that involved gripping and no work that involved the muscles that open the hand. Added some reverse wrist curls and it went away. Whether that’s an issue for you I can’t say of course.


#3

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
Much to my chagrin I have developed what seems to be tendinitis in both elbows. I think it was caused by high volume shoulder width grip pull-ups combined with my squat grip/pulling elbows forward to keep my chest up.

Anyway, I’ve widened my grip for pull-ups and widened my grip for squats and stopped pulling my elbows forward. That makes squats and pull-ups bearable and my elbows are improving BUT I know that’s just a bandaid fix.

I need to make my elbows stronger, which as far as I know means some sort of curls and tricep extensions. I had a thought that concentrated curls and cable tricep pull downs for lower weight but higher reps would help strength the connective tissue, which is really what I need.

Reasonable? Is there something better I could be doing?[/quote]

If you want to use tricep push downs try it with resistance bands in a really high rep range (20-30). Feels awesome for triceps and elbows. I have no idea of course if this will help with your problems but atleast it doesn’t seem to negatively stress the joint.


#4

Thanks banco and Koestrizer. I’m also not sure if its a gripping vs opening issue - all I know for sure is shoulder width grip pull ups and narrower grip for squats with elbows pulled forward (to ribcage or further forward) were the main culprits so I’m guessing it was pressure/tension on the joint from the position.

Hopefully increasing join strength will help, will definitely have a look at push downs with resistance bands. That’s certainly the rep range I’m looking at for the bicep and tricep work, and just in terms of convenience the bands will be better for me than cable work. Any particular degree of resistance? I’ve got a couple of bands I use for benching that put around 45 lbs on the top of the movement, would they be suitable?


#5

[quote]MarkKO wrote:
Thanks banco and Koestrizer. I’m also not sure if its a gripping vs opening issue - all I know for sure is shoulder width grip pull ups and narrower grip for squats with elbows pulled forward (to ribcage or further forward) were the main culprits so I’m guessing it was pressure/tension on the joint from the position.

Hopefully increasing join strength will help, will definitely have a look at push downs with resistance bands. That’s certainly the rep range I’m looking at for the bicep and tricep work, and just in terms of convenience the bands will be better for me than cable work. Any particular degree of resistance? I’ve got a couple of bands I use for benching that put around 45 lbs on the top of the movement, would they be suitable?[/quote]

My bands are around the same resistance and work fine. Also maybe some of this tips might help with the issue in the squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v0ynRK8zd0


#6

I find that a lot of the elbow problems I experience from squatting (antior pain, biceps tendinitis-like symptoms) come from very tight pecs and comparatively weak upper back muscles. I’ve had some success remediating these problems using tons of volume on face pulls, band pull-aparts and the like, and by adequately stretching my chest prior to squatting. I also like consistently performing light hammer curls once or twice a week to improve bloodflow to the area following pressing.

Omar Isuf actually just posted an interesting YouTube video about this exact topic. It’s worth watching.


#7

[quote]kgildner wrote:
I find that a lot of the elbow problems I experience from squatting (antior pain, biceps tendinitis-like symptoms) come from very tight pecs and comparatively weak upper back muscles. I’ve had some success remediating these problems using tons of volume on face pulls, band pull-aparts and the like, and by adequately stretching my chest prior to squatting. I also like consistently performing light hammer curls once or twice a week to improve bloodflow to the area following pressing.

Omar Isuf actually just posted an interesting YouTube video about this exact topic. It’s worth watching.[/quote]

I have seen that one and agree. For me it isn’t only stretching the pec but also activating the shoulder through dynamic mobility movements/ excersises. This helps tremendously with getting in the low bar position and getting as less stress as possible on my elbows. Also wearing wrist wraps is important for me (actually more important in the squat than in the bench press). I personally never found bicep curls helpful for this, although I do them on occasion.


#8

#9

[quote]kgildner wrote:
I find that a lot of the elbow problems I experience from squatting (antior pain, biceps tendinitis-like symptoms) come from very tight pecs and comparatively weak upper back muscles. I’ve had some success remediating these problems using tons of volume on face pulls, band pull-aparts and the like, and by adequately stretching my chest prior to squatting. I also like consistently performing light hammer curls once or twice a week to improve bloodflow to the area following pressing.

Omar Isuf actually just posted an interesting YouTube video about this exact topic. It’s worth watching.[/quote]

That’s very interesting, as I’d never have considered that. I’m almost compeletely sure that isn’t the issue with me because my pecs aren’t tight at all, and my upper back while not super strong isn’t weak - compared to my chest it would very probably be stronger (not that that says much). I’ve also got pretty good shoulder mobility, and I work to make sure it stays that way.

I’ve only done a little bicep/tricep work so far, but combined with wider grip squats and pull ups and slightly dropping pull up volume the problem is greatly improved.


#10

I can’t think of any powerlifters I know personally who don’t have elbow issues. It’s generally for the reasons others have stated - either tight pecs, poor shoulder mobility, or a combination of the two. The squat is generally the culprit. Tight forearms as a result of lots of deadlifting can also cause tendonitis. Since you’re such a deadlift fanatic, this may be the issue for you.

I had it bad last year. I’ve permanently moved my grip wider on squats for that reason. I still have shitty elbows, but the pain is manageable and doesn’t affect performance.


#11

Sleeves go a long way. Triceps exercises alone don’t do much, neither to biceps exercises, but when I superset the two for very high reps, that’s when I get a benefit.

I also find working a golf ball into the meat of forearms, especially near my elbow has a good effect.

Make sure you’re not supporting the weight on squats with your hands or wrists at any portion of the movement.


#12

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
I can’t think of any powerlifters I know personally who don’t have elbow issues. It’s generally for the reasons others have stated - either tight pecs, poor shoulder mobility, or a combination of the two. The squat is generally the culprit. Tight forearms as a result of lots of deadlifting can also cause tendonitis. Since you’re such a deadlift fanatic, this may be the issue for you.

I had it bad last year. I’ve permanently moved my grip wider on squats for that reason. I still have shitty elbows, but the pain is manageable and doesn’t affect performance.[/quote]

That one I hadn’t thought of - but you’re right, because other than DLs I do a bunch of rows and stuff so my forearms work pretty hard. The wide grip on squats was a massive help - the pain is pretty much gone at the moment.

I’ve pretty much accepted shitty elbows are going to be happening - I figure mitigating the issue as much as possible is the way to go.


#13

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
Sleeves go a long way. Triceps exercises alone don’t do much, neither to biceps exercises, but when I superset the two for very high reps, that’s when I get a benefit.

I also find working a golf ball into the meat of forearms, especially near my elbow has a good effect.

Make sure you’re not supporting the weight on squats with your hands or wrists at any portion of the movement. [/quote]

I’ll give that a go at some point; sleeves are a definite entry on my to get list. Any recommendations?

No weight on the hands or wrists - if anything I pull the bar down into my shoulders.


#14

Unfortunately, I only have a recommendation of what not to get. Don’t get the muellers. They fall apart fast.


#15

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:
Unfortunately, I only have a recommendation of what not to get. Don’t get the muellers. They fall apart fast. [/quote]

That’s a decent start. I’d like Eleikos but not sure where to get them in Aus.


#16

Can you get SBD’s? I have SBD knee and elbow sleeves. Love both.


#17

In the past month I switched from straight to bent wrists when squatting and I haven’t had elbow pains since. I will be doing a lot more volume in the coming weeks so I’ll see if it continues to work.

As everyone above mentioned it was related to overuse of gripping. For me it was worse for squat because the angle of my forearm was not in line with the force vector applied which was to hold the bar down (the load is not in the plane created by the wrist, elbow and shoulder which results in out-of-plane shear stress at the elbow joint that the body can’t efficiently handle). Whereas for deadlift I have never had elbow problems even with tight forearms because the load is linear going straight through the elbow joint so no shear stress is created.

By using bent wrist for squatting, I’m able to unload my forearms a bit while still generating the necessary tension in my lats (which is my main goal). The only reason why bent wrist never worked a long time ago was because I couldn’t keep my torso tight enough to keep the bar from rolling but that hasn’t been an issue so far (bent wrist don’t work if a person can’t keep a rigid torso). My wrists actually feel a lot better now. Also keep in mind that stiff wrists in a straight position can transfer more load than soft wrists in a bent position. Loads tend to travel a straight and/or stiff path.

With overuse of certain muscles I’ve found the three step approach to be pretty effective: 1) Alter the movement to rely less on that muscle, 2) Strengthen the antagonist muscle, 3) Strengthen the targeted weak muscle or muscles that perform the same function. It looks like you’re doing what’s needed to fix the problem. I wouldn’t say that what you have done so far is a bandaid fix because what you’re doing is improving the limiting factor of your lift by trying to rely less on it. It’s only detrimental if you completely lose tightness when changing your elbow position.

Edit: I just watched Candito’s video and I agree to experiment with keeping the wrists straight or bent and pushing the elbows fwd or back (but still down). All that really matters is preventing pain while utilizing your lats effectively.


#18

Actually yes,yes I think I can. Good call.