T Nation

Forearm Pain At The Elbow

When doing hammer curls and chin-ups, I get a really sharp pain deep in the forearm near the elbow. Pushing exercises and regular curls do not cause pain, only hammer curls and chin-ups.

Any of you experienced this and how long will it take to recover?


One reason I do more “Pull-ups” than “Chin-ups” is because of the pain that you describe.

I have had this before and noticed it greatly reduced when performing “Pull-ups” (palms facing away). I think those who over do the "Chin-up (palms facing you) take the chance of getting this injury.

A Pull-up is a more natural movement. man climbs with palms facing away not toward himself…most of time.

i have the exact same thing…its like a nerve type of pain correct? i only get it in my right forearm on certain excercises…like at the end of bench press sets or cuban’s or dips…kinda concerned if anyone could help us out plz post!!!

I used to have this problem, with my left arm. I dropped the amount of weight I did, and really stretched after each set (both arms). After a few weeks of that, I put the weight back up. I still do a few quick & light warm-ups almost as a superset during whatever move I’m doing before my curl/chin. Now my chin-up or barbell curl are forearm pain free.

Hope this work for you.

My $.02, since I’m dealing with what sounds like close to the same thing. It aggravates with palm-forward pull-ups (but not palms backwards) and rowing movements (i.e. t-bar rows). I’m having an ART provider work on it, who said it’s an overuse injury to the brachioradialis muscle and also of the brachialis (anatomists feel free to correct my spelling). He recommends working the opposite muscle (in my case it would be to do palms-up wrist curls) with light weight to help balance the strength of the two. I’m not an expert myself, I’m just passing his advice to me on to you in case it might help. I’m also taking a week off from training.

Good luck!

Ah…I forgot, also he suggested stretching the forearms, as sugarfree mentioned, by pushing the hands up and down through the vertical range of motion of the wrist (I hope that explains it; I know it’s kinda hard to picture).

I had problems with pain in my elbows (first the right, and then after that cleared up, the left). I searched the web and found all manner of theories about what causes it, and claims about how to cure it – many of which contradicted each other. I tried several different things at once, so I am not quite sure which ones contributed to the healing. Here are some things I tried:

  1. I used a forearm wrap/brace (found at any drugstore) whenever I performed lifts that caused elbow pain (in my case, biceps curls mostly). Also wore it whenever I needed to perform repetitive operations involving my grip or forearm (e.g., pruning trees, edging grass). I found the wrap gave quite a bit of relief from the pain, but I am not sure that it provided any positive healing effect.

  2. I alternately iced the elbow (since most info I saw said inflammation was the cause of the pain) and used a heat pad on my forearm (my chiropractor said that straining the forearm caused the tenditis), being careful not to get the ice pack on the forearm or the heat pad on the elbow.

  3. I massaged my forearm throughout the day. I found those plastic massage thingies with balls on the end very useful for that.

  4. I stretched my wrist throughout the day. With arm out and palm facing down, grab fingertips with other hand and then pull back so palm faces away. Also, with elbow bent and palm facing you, grab fingertips and pull so palm faces down and fingers point at you.

  5. I put rubber bands around my thumb and fingertips and tried to spread the fingers open against the pressure of the bands. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat for awhile till you get tired. The stronger you get, the more bands you use. (I think this exercise helped a lot, since the pain went away soon after I started doing this.)

  6. I got an old tennis ball and squeezed it for few seconds, then released. Repeat for awhile.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Another possible cause of your pain may be having your hands too far apart during chin-ups. Too far apart and the elbows are stressed, too close and it’s the wrists. The hammer curls would then hurt b/c you’ve already aggravated your elbows w/ chins. Just something to think about.

If you could give me a little more info, I could give you a better answer. If your arms were at your sides with your palms facing forward, what side of the elbow/forearm is the pain on (thumb side or little finger side). Also, have you tried reverse curls or wrist extensions, and do they bother you? What about back exercises or shrugs where you have to grip tightly?
You would want to rule out such things as lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), which would normally be felt with gripping or lifting motions with a palms down grip or activities involving repetitive or strenuous wrist extension (Insert your own jokes here). Hammer curls and pull-ups hit the brachioradialis and brachialis muscles more so than regular curls and chin-ups, therefore any tendinitis, strain, or insertional irritation of these muscles should be considered. If this is a new problem, avoid the offending exercises for a couple weeks, while also using ice massage, myofascial release and mild stretching techniques. Add the exercises in gradually with less weight following a very light warm-up where you make sure to go through the full range of motion by the last couple reps. Focus on slowing down the eccentric (negative) portion of the lift. While this may make the area sore (ice massage post workout), eccentric type movements have been shown to help with heaing tendinitis type injuries. You may want to consider performing the concentric portion of the lift with a palms up grip, and the negative portion in the typical hammer curl fashion. As always it would be a good idea to have a doc or phys ther. eval it and provide some treatment and instruct you on the proper way to perform the ice massage, myofascial release and stretching.

Thanks for all the great replies.

Drryan, to answer your questions.

[If your arms were at your sides with your palms facing forward, what side of the elbow/forearm is the pain on (thumb side or little finger side).]

Pain occurs on the thumbside. It’s very deep right at when the forearm begins. When I am just sitting and squeeze my forearm against my bicep, I can feel the pain.

[Also, have you tried reverse curls or wrist extensions, and do they bother you?]

Reverse Curls do not hurt.

[What about back exercises or shrugs where you have to grip tightly? ]

Barbell rows and shrugs do not agravate the area. Chin-ups are a killer. Lat pulls are not so bad, but I do feel a little pain.