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Snapping Elbow (Ulnar Nerve Jumps). Training Recommendation?

I started to develop a so-called snapping elbow. It was diagnosed because I had severe tendinitis, lasted 18 months and multiple doctors visits, one doc said tennis, the next golf arm. In the end I found an export who told me that my ulnar nerve jumps over the elbow at about a 90 degree angle. I don’t have problems during day to day activities, but under high load it’s a loud snap , with multiple reps is is painful, I was told that with time I will damage the nerve.
Pushing exercises like chest and shoulders cause a snap, pulling work for now.

Here is a better explanation of what was diagnosed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5908985/
The doctor gave me two options:

  1. His preferred choice, adapt your training and train around.

  2. Get an ulnar nerve relocation surgery (not recommended by the surgeon unless I start to get numb fingers).

My two questions are:

  1. Which exercises can I do to ensure I can still build mass to substitute the heavy push exercises (such as bench press, military press,…)

  2. This is a more common problem with athletes I wanted to ask here, did anyone have the surgery to relocate the ulnar nerve. Would you recommend it?

I would pre-exhaust compound pushing exercises by flip-flopping the order of your sessions. Instead of started with heavy compounds, then assistance, then isolation, start with isolation, then assistance, then compounds. I would also trial slow tempos for the compound work and see if that helps. For example, an upper body Push day could look like:

1A: Pec Deck or Flyes: 3 x 15
1B: Tricep Pushdown: 3 x 15
1C: Face Pull: 3 x 15
2: Dips: 3 x Max @ 5-3-1-0
3: Bench Press: 4 x 6 @ 3-2-1-0
4A: Lateral Raise: 2 x 15
4B: Front Raise: 2 x 15

I haven’t had the surgery myself, but based on what I’ve learnt at uni (studying physiotherapy) outcomes following ulnar relocation surgery are not necessarily better than non-surgical management. If training adjustments do not help, or your symptoms get worse over the next 3-6 months, that’s the time to consider surgery.

Do you play any throwing or racquet sports?

That’s a good idea, I will try it. My physiotherapist also mentioned we to try it.
He told me to avoid all exercises where I have heavy load when pushing the elbow below a 90% angle.

I don’t play racket sports. Other than tried golf a couple of times but it’s not really my thing.

Thank you :slight_smile:

That’s exactly it. I can always do the Würgers later, but I cannot undo it if it’s not a success. For now, I won’t do the surgery. If I can’t build muscle or it gets much worse again I can reconsider it later.

Good news! Racket sports and throwing are the two movement that are most likely to exacerbate ulnar nerve subluxation. As a lifter, you’re even more likely to be able to manage this without surgery.

Good call.