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What's Wrong with My Tricep?


i was wandering if anybody could give my any advice to what might be wrong with my tricep? when i am doing dumbell skull crushes, the long head of my left tricep feels like it is really tight and that it is going to snap. it is quite painful when i do them, i've been to the doctors and they just tell me not to do that problem rather than trying to see what the problem could be.

i've taken 6 months of training and the pain still comes even though i always stretch and warm up. so i've come here to see if anyone else has had this problem and what they did about it. thanks guys


Skull crushers are a hard time for many lifters, specially in the elbow joint. My guess is that you do them first, right?


Doctors make me fucking laugh. Jesus.

Just to clarify - the long head of your left Tricep being the head that is the thickest and nearest to the body?

It is likely a warm up issue TBH as MEY said... how strong are you? What rep range are you using? How developed are your triceps? Do you do much overhead tricep work?


You should try to figure out a way to do skull crushers pain free but there is a real possibility that you just cant do them without pain. I've started doing dead-stop skull crushers with an EZ bar. I do it third in my routine and it has been good. I've had elbow problems in the past from other variations.


yeah, skull crushers are usually the first exercise i do with my triceps, i usually do them with 20 kg dumbells but since i haven't trained in 6 months i'm currently on 15kg, my rep range is 8 - 10 reps and i do 4 sets, they have been hurting for a few years now but it just started off with a slight pain and now it just feels that they are going to snap, when i say the long head yes i do mean the muscle closest to my body. its not the only over head excercise i use but i only do 2 of those types and it hurts both times, when i do push downs or on the bench there isn't that much pain its usually just over head. thank you for the input


Is this strictly pain with skull crushers, or does it also hurt with cg-bench, pushdowns, etc?

I'm assuming its pain with every tricep movement, otherwise taking 6 months off cuz of just skull crushers would be retarded.


it doesn't hurt with push down movements, i had to take 6 months off due to my studies and work and other commitments, i hated it! lol


you should try starting with a pressing movement, it'll allow you to use greater load so you'll stimulate greater gains and it's easier on your joints, so you may be more warmed up when you go with the skulls.


Hold off on skull crushers right now, or for good. Stick to heavy close-grip benching, and 5x20 resistance band pulldowns. My triceps feel way stronger and much healthier with high rep band pull-downs.


In that case i would suspect a small tear in the long head of the left tricep.

There is pain during other tricep moves but it is worsened significantly when you stretch the muscle and contract it.

As it hurts when it isn't stretched but is contracted (though not as much as when stretched [overhead]) as with pressdowns, this tends to rule out a spasm..

This is by no means definitive and dont take the word of someone who has never met you as gospel, but from the info you gave i would strongly be considering a small tear in the muscle (which has worsened over the years).

Doctors are not qualified nor experienced in treating such injuries. Go to a sports injury clinic, a physio, a chiro or such and let them work on it.

As it has been a niggle for so long i would suggest you get it looked at as opposed to JUST letting it rest, as if you do that it is likely to cause issue again as it is highly likely to have quite a significant amount of scar tissue built up if it has been semi healed and torn numerous times over the years.


where is the pain? muscle belly? insertions?


thanks for the advice guys, i now have an idea one who to get to help. and Faran the pain is on the muscle belly.


J-J, what can be done from seeing a doctor, if having a small tear that has been a chronic issue, that is above an beyond what can be done from rest and modalities such as active release therapy? Other than surgery.

Although my ART practioner doesn't seem to detect anything in particular, a tear such as you describe could well explain some chronic problems I've been having.


What part of the triceps is actually hurting? In the middle of the belly? You can try some foam rolling or massaging it before you work it out.


You might have already done this, but try varying your grip width on an ez-curl bar. Close grip gives me really bad pain, but a wider one is fine for me.


i had strained my right tricep doing Db skull crushers. Turns out it was my shoulder that was a little tight with a small amount of impingement. Did some shoulder work, went over to skull crushers with an EZ bar and it felt more or less just fine. Check your left shoulder and make sure that the shoulder is pain free.


Yeah you are right, it would need a stitch or two if it has never healed over that time.

But IME of local MD's - they won't ever find an injury of that nature.. and simply mask it with NSAIDS instead. At least one of the professions mentioned would be able to tell the doctor what is what.

It is a matter of using the doc as a middle man though - as most injury therapists have no ability to refer for surgery, that requiring the doctor.

You are right - i just have no damn faith in my GP at the moment and it is clouding my judgement! :wink:


Thanks. I may have to do it.

Although I don't know that it's a tear. I just find it odd that after even 2 months now of no exercises aggravating the problem (unless chest presses aggravate it even though they don't hurt), I still can't DL, row, or do any chin/pulldown/pullup type movement except with exceedingly trivial weight.

During the year that there had been similarly located pain in other situations, I had no problems with those exercises, but conceivably they were preventing healing. I would'a thunk though that 2 months of avoiding these exercises should have been sufficient.

Not directly related to the OP's question, except perhaps as an example of it sometimes not being best to "train through it."


Where is your pain source Bill? I don't think you specified.

If the tricep think about the fact that with the rows/pulls you are using JUST the long head as it is the only one crossing the shoulder, but with presses the other heads are assisting that head plus it is not stretched so will not have as much tension there...


You're using dumbbells right? Id switch to a EZ bar.