The research continues to show that the best “treatment” for elbow pain is exercise.
But what do you do when exercising hurts your elbow instead of helping?
This is one of the most common frustrations I hear from our clients. The doctor looks at their elbows and takes an X-ray to check for things like arthritis. Surgery doesn’t make sense at the beginning but injections are often offered – so the advice is to go exercise – and specifically to strengthen the forearm muscles.
But when it doesn’t work they are at a loss.
Why would exercise hurt your elbow when the research overwhelmingly shows that it’s supposed to help?
Here are 5 reasons why…
1. It’s the wrong type of exercise
While the research isn’t wrong about exercising and elbow pain, it doesn’t always reveal the specifics on the type of exercise that’s being done. For example, you might see people doing wrist curls because the assumption is elbow pain can be due to the weakness of a particular group of muscles. But I also have clients who get worse just walking to their mailbox at the end of the driveway.
Strengthening IS good for ultimately getting rid of elbow pain, but you need to make sure it’s the right type of strengthening for YOUR specific type of elbow pain.
If you get the type of exercise or movement wrong – you’ll feel worse – and it’s one reason why exercise will sometimes hurt your elbow instead of help.
2. You’re using the improper form
One of the most common reasons why exercising might be hurting your elbow is that you aren’t doing it right. There are a lot of people out there who think posture and form don’t really matter. But they do!
3. You are exercising the wrong area
This might be the one thing that I often discover when people come to us after having tried other therapy clinics.
Your elbow is the hinge that holds your arm together when doing anything with your arm, which includes your shoulder and hands. Find out where the root cause of your elbow pain is half of the battle when working to get rid of elbow pain.
It’s important to address the other areas that cause elbow pain.
4. You are going too fast
Heavyweights or body weight can be great to help ease elbow pain. Introducing heaviness and increasing repetitions without consideration of the phases of recovery can hinder recovery.
It’s worth going slow at the beginning so you can go fast once the pain subsides.
5. You are overstretching
Stretching can feel great at the moment when you are feeling “tight”. And forearm and wrist stretches are a common recommendation for those with elbow pain.
In people with persistent elbow pain, stretching may only help temporarily. Actually, stretching can hurt you in the long run. The faster you feel the need to stretch after already stretching is a common way to tell that stretching does not help, and might be hurting you instead.
Elbow pain such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow can be persistent in nature. Since it’s the type of pain that comes and goes, it’s easy for most people to ignore.
I promise you as someone who’s dealt with elbow pain in the past, knowing what to do with the elbow pain is worth it. You’ll know that you are on the right path and that you have control over your recovery.
Don’t let elbow pain slow you down. It’s possible to get rid of elbow pain without pills, injections, and surgery.
KNOW that it is possible to get rid of the pain. You don’t have to live with it or wait for it to get worse.
Pay attention to which movements are giving you pain when it gets aggravated. WHEN you hurt and HOW you hurt gives us a lot of information to be able to guide you. You can grab our free Elbow Pain Guide for even more tips and how-to’s that you can get started with.
When the elbow pain is at its worse – a Gel ice pack that wraps around the outside and the inside of your elbow is the best. It needs to be done at least 3 times daily for 10 minutes for best results.
Here’s the thing about elbow pain…
If you have tried the traditional ice, rest, and therapy. AND nothing seems to work…it’s because you have not gotten to the root cause of the problem.
In most cases, you may have gotten temporary relief and possibly even taken away most of your pain. But there are many times when you will start getting that pain again once you get back to full activities.
One thing that I’ve seen in many elbow pain patients when they don’t respond to traditional therapy is that the root cause is NOT at the site of pain. Areas that we work on DON’T HURT…but we can use other areas that can help the elbow – like the shoulder and even the back.
If you have persistent elbow pain that doesn’t seem to go away no matter what you have tired AND you want to avoid injections and surgery – Request to Speak with Our Specialist.
Let us help you get clear on what’s wrong so you can make the best decision about what is possible to get rid of it.
Written by Hoang Tran
About the author – Hoang Tran – Miami Occupational Therapist
Hoang Tran is a Miami certified hand therapist , the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand, neck and shoulder problems, because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!).
The aim of her occupational therapy practice in the Miami area is to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery. Occupational and Physical Therapy are both offered at Hands-On Therapy by our experienced therapists who provide a comprehensive approach to your care.
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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.