Treatment for Tendonitis From Curls

As I’m about to turn 44, I’ve noticed that I’m developing tendonitis in both elbows after doing bicep curls at the gym using the EZ curl bar.

I usually warm up for 10 minutes on treadmill or elliptical, then stretch. I start out with two strict sets of curls, 10-12 reps each, using the 40 lb bar to warm up. I then do another five sets, working my way in 10 lb increments, up to 90 lbs for 8 slow, strict reps. I take 2 minutes between sets. Lately, the sharp stabbing pain of tendonitis has forced me to back off almost althogether from bicep curls. This has come on rather suddenly.

Any experience with treating this? Any T-Nation types have success using ART on this? I’ve tried Naprosyn and ice, but they’ve been limited in their positive effect.

MicroSlash - “Currently unable to pick up my Les Paul without flinching in ALOT of pain…”

This may not be the answer you were looking for, but why not stop doing curls altogether, at least for a couple of weeks/months?

Do some more back work - various chins and rows - and you will definitely hit your biceps.

Also, as a sidenote, my arms have never been thicker or stronger than when I was doing one-arm DB snatches in the 8-15 range, three days a week.


I developed Tendonitis as well, almost have it licked now. i had lower brachial Tendonitis (i think it was called). if you make a fist the wrong way (thumbs tucked) straighten your arms out and try to touch your pinkies to your thighs, it hurts like hell in you elbows.

my right elbow hurt the rest of the day when i did this. (yes its good to know bodybuilding doctors :slight_smile: he recommended hook hands. takes you forarm out of the exercize. now when i work back, my elbows actually feel better instead of the pain i was having before.

And i could actually do heavier curls again! i was having the exact same problem as you, only i do straight bar curls. so try out the hook hands, they suck, but not as bad as Tendonitis.

I have some trouble with shoulder and elbow from time to time. ART has worked some, and I have enven started using neoprene elbow braces with some success. However, I have the most trouble anytime I’m using a bar instead of dumbells. Using a bar locks you in to a specific range of motion that may not be for your body. Try using some dumbells, maybe some hammer curls.

Eccentric Exercise - A Solution to Tendonitis?

MicroSlash -

I’m a lifter and I play guitar so I feel your pain.

I switched to the straight curl bar. If you put your hands in the right place your elbows will tuck in when you curl. It doesn’t seem to place any stress on my elbows though.

also, I have to avoid lat pulls with the EZ bar. I use the v-bar instead.


MicroSlash, you might want to try ART. It works wonders on tendonitis.

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I had it so bad in both arms, couldn’t do chins, lat pulls, any curling what so ever (hammer curls were the worse). Even holding a coffee cup hurt when I put the cup down.

I stayed off of all the things that were irritating, stopped lifting for 2 months in conjunction with ibuprofen in large does and massage therapy but just couldn’t shake the pain.

Finally went to the Orthopedic and took cortisone in both arms. Laid off the same exercises I mentioned above but did those that previously didn’t irritate (bench, shoulder press, legs, one arm rows focusing on not using the bicep, etc)

After a couple of months, I got slowly back into the curls, chins, lat pulls and 8 months later, I feel great with no pain.

One thing I do avoid is lifting heavy dumbbells. I do not do any dumbbell bench pressing. Getting them up use to kill me and setting them down was also painful. This is what I believe started the whole thing.

Good luck!

Out of curiosity, is the pain in the elbow bone itself, or is it in the tendons in the inner crease of the arm bend (i.e. in front of where the elbow bone is)? Because I get pain in those tendons or connective tissue that runs throught that crease area, where the bicep connects to the forearm.

My tendonitis is in the left arm inside portion (the crease) and I was feeling pain when doing curls, pull ups and rows. I have found that doing higher rep reverse curls (8-10) provides me with a great deal of relief. I have stopped doing any other form of curls.

I believe that doing Zercher good mornings was the start of the tendonitis for me.

My worthless 2 cents.


I have pain in what sounds like the same place as you, but oddly enough mine is most aggravated by doing reverse curls and hammer curls. Regular (palms-up) curls, after a good deal of warming up, seem to be the only way to go for me – wierd.

I can do bent-over rows with a reverse grip (Dorian style), which I prefer anyway, after warming up sufficiently, but doing them with a normal, overhand grip would hurt. Oh well.

Well, I have pain on the medial side of my elbows IF I do bar curls or barbell benches. If I do DB benches and DB curls, I have much less tendonitis. I take a dixie cup of ice and massage the joint for about 10 miutes followed by 2 ibuprophens and 2 Omega3 caps and that combo works very well.

I had a similar problem a couple of years ago: pain when curling, pain with chins, even pain when replacing the hand set of the 'phone.
First I tried rest; anything that even remotely bothered it I avoided. Three months later tried curling: pain back again, Ibuprofen lessened it but I didn’t think this was a good idea.
I went back to avoiding everything that hurt, tried supplementing with glucosamine, which seemed to help.

What helped THE most: 10 fish oil caps per day while resting. When I felt it was time to start again, I rested another month. Then did only light high rep DB Hammer curls, 2 set of 15-25reps with 10kg DBs. I did these twice per week for 2 months gradually getting to use 12.5kg DBs for~25reps.

Then I began EZ curls once per week -light weights 15reps slowly working up in weight for a month then dropping the reps to 12 then 8 then back to 5-6. But I ALWAYS do 1 set of DB Hammer curls with 12.5kg DB for 15 controlled reps as a warm up.

I still take the fish oil still don’t have the pain! (in the elbows anyway!)
If you act soon I hope you won’t suffer for over a year as I did. Rest is good.

Several years ago I gave myself tendonitis in both arms doing palms down preacher curls. I couldn’t do hammers or skull crushers either. It hurt to carry anything heavier than a tea bag with my right arm.

Anti-inflammatories and cortisone shots did not help. The doctor suggested I try glucosamine and told me to avoid all curling movements where my elbows were supported, no hammers and absolutely no skull crushers. I reluctantly took his advice.

I started taking (I hope I can say this on T-Nation) AST Proflex 750, and doing spider curls. It took a while for the glucosamine to kick in, but that shit is the bomb! I am back to preacher curls palms up, palms down whatever I want, and the heaviest skull crushers I have ever done and my elbows are gold.

Give it a try.


I experienced severe lower biceps, upper forearm & elbow pain after lifting for yrs. Finally had to quit lifting all together and treated with an ART therapist for months. He & I finally realized extreme tightness in both shoulders was the source of the problem and it was transferring all the way down into both arms.

It took awhile but once I increased the flexibility/range of motion in both shoulders and was able to stretch my arms back behind my head, the pain gradually subsided and it has not come back since. Hope this helps!

Drop the elbow flexor exercises and do grip work 3 x week for a couple of weeks.

  1. ART for sure- remove the “stickiness” or adhesions gumming things up
  2. NUTRIFLEX worked great for me- 2tbsp/day:
  3. Proteolytic enzymes like Bromelain 500 mg 3x/day
  4. Fish Oils- 3caps/ 3x/day as a natural anti-inflammatory
  5. Keep changing your exercise choices AND work AROUND not through any pain . .
  6. Thumbless grip a la Gironda/ Scott helped me tons too
  7. Forearm specialization routine 2x/week - flexion/ extension/ supination/pronation, etc. . .- they work as “shock absorbers” when the curls get heavy.
  8. TRAUMEEL cream rubbed in 3-5x/day for a good couple tubes does wonders too Log In ‹ — WordPress

Ummm . .there’s my two cents anyhow :wink:

I had tendonitis in my elbows too…i felt it badly when i did curls and lat pulldowns, and what i think caused it was using too heavy a weight while curling and overstretching the joint on those curls (I was maxing with 1-3 reps). I layed off direct bicep lifting for 3 weeks, then got back into it by warming up my arms completely by doing 4-5 sets of very light weight for 30-40 reps.

I used the preacher curl machine so i could control the extension. It took 2 months to fully heal and I’ve stopped using weight that I can’t do for at least 10reps…plus I’ve migrated to machines/cables (just to be on the safe side). I also do “hook-arms” now.

PS: I always took fish oil.

i am having the same problems. my shoulder and elbow bothers me at night when i sleep on that side. it hurts to even lift the covers over me. i already had 2 cortisone shots on my elbow. my bicep hurts even to scratch my nose. it hurts right at the start of the bicep. i am so frustrated because i can’t lift. i have lost muscle mass and gained inches in my waist. i have scheduled an appointment with an ART provider. i was wondering if anybody has been to one and what results have u seen