T Nation

Unique, Effective Cures for Elbow Pain?


It never fails, I get training injury-free for a while and get stronger and then eventually get overwhelmed by elbow tendonitis. My form is always strict, I blame triceps work and just years of heavy lifting. I have been in the habit of training chest and back and bi's and tri's on the same days for quite a while now (modified supersets), I sometimes wonder if the opposing movements are not the best for the elbow joint either.

I have pretty much heard it all; rest, avoid the bi-tri isolation movements, ice, fish oil, glucosamine/chondroiton, warm up thoroughly, cortisone shot (would never do that), plasma injection (another risky idea), do the movements very slow...

At the moment, I am taking 6 Flameout pills per day (maybe need to up the dosage?) and also just started on Animal Flex. Training chest last night, I made it through flat bench and incline, but dips was more than I could handle, the area where the tri's insert in the elbow was very painful. Might try a topical cream before training, it has helped somewhat in the past, but I don't want to mask the pain too much either.

Anything I haven't thought of or am missing from the above? I know this problem is old news and happens to tons of people, it is just so darn frustrating to make gains and then get stalled...


foam rolling / soft tissue work. when i thought i had elbow tendonitis i discovered that my triceps were pretty tight. oddly enough releasing them sorted things out. i hope it is that, because it is easy fixed.


I don't think doing super sets has anything to do with it. Have you read any of John Meadows' articles? If not I would definitely do so.

I would also listen to your body and figure out which movents are ok and which bother your elbows, regardless of what is "supposed" to be good/bad. For instance maybe dips just aren't an exercise that you can do pain free, or maybe you can do them but you can't do them after you've done flat and incline pressing. You may also want to try adjusting your rep ranges and see if that makes any difference.

In regards to fish oil, I've taken as many as 20 daily, so you could also try upping your dosage of that. Also 1 more vote for foam rolling.


Thanks for the tips. So for foam rolling, should it be done on the tricep, from the elbow to arm pit?

I also have been reading that castor oil can be helpful.


VooDoo floss bands. Compression therapy works great as long as the injury isn't too advanced.




Mateus, thanks for the info, may give these a try (odd name for them). Have you had much experience with these yourself?


^ They seem to work initially, and especially if you use them diligently. I'm not sure that they're the silver bullet for curing elbow tendonitis, but they definitely help reduce the pain and improve ROM.


Thanks; so I'm assuming the best time to use them would be right before a workout since they help with reduced pain and improved ROM?


Yes, before is a good time and then any other time that you feel tight. Like stated above, they are not a silver bullet, just a tool to help alleviate some of the issues caused by improper form, poor exercise selection, and/or continued abuse. Ultimately you find the exercises that do not aggravate the area and stay away from the ones that do. They will get you a long way though providing you are proactive about it and not too far advanced with the tendinitis.


While it has not a made a huge difference in the elbow pain dissapearing completely, I have found that using dumbells instead of barbells for flat and incline pressing is not as painful or irritating. Being able to have the ability to put my arms in a slightly different plane of motion and not be locked in helps. I normally am not a fan of machines, but the hammer Strength decline press for chest is helping too in place of dips. I am okay donig these movements for a while if necessary. Just picked up the Voodoo Floss Bands too.

The question now is what I can do for triceps, if anything. Close Grip bench with a barbell is way too painful, thought about maybe using that bar (don't know what it is called) that has the two vertical handles in the middle and try close grips like that. I think maybe just the close grip in general is just a bad idea at the moment.

Also thought about doing overhead presses off the rack, where I would be pressing off the pins possibly. I don't usually like doing partial movements though, unless they are done as a supplementary exercise. Overhead extensions are still out of the question, way too painful. Pushdowns are ok done carefully. I can't stand doing kickbacks except for maybe a final pump or something, never get much out of those.