Unfortunately, elbow pain is not uncommon among strength athletes. Many lifters occasionally suffer from tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow. The names are somewhat misleading. Most people who experience elbow pain never swing a racquet or a golf club!
WHY DOES IT HURT?
Tendons are bands of tough tissue that connect the muscles to the bone. Tennis and golfer’s elbow are both a type of tendonitis. In other words, the tendons are inflamed. (For what it's worth, any time you see "itis" at the end of a word, think inflammation: bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, etc.)
The symptoms of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), include pain and tenderness in the bony knob on the outside of your elbow. Sometimes the pain can radiate into the upper or lower arm.
Most of the time, it’s the result of repetitive gripping activities involving the THUMB and the INDEX AND MIDDLE FINGERS. So even though the pain manifests in your elbow or arm, it’s a result of what you’re doing with your hands.
The symptoms of golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis), include pain and tenderness in the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. And, like tennis elbow, the pain can radiate into your forearm.
Most of the time the pain is related to overuse in the muscles that are used to grip, rotate your arm, and flex your wrist. So again, even though the pain manifests in your elbow, it’s actually a result of what you’re doing with your hands and wrists.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT:
- ICE can help reduce pain and swelling. Experts recommend icing for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours (and especially post-exercise) for 2 to 3 days or until the pain is gone.
- Use a support brace
- Stretch and strength those muscle groups: Check out these great videos to learn how to do this: Golfer’s Elbow. Tennis Elbow
- NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin, can help with pain and swelling. However, unless your doctor says otherwise, you should only use NSAIDs occasionally.
HOW YOU CAN PREVENT IT:
It's extremely important to warm up properly before lifting weights. And doing exercises that stretch and strengthen your wrist and forearm muscles (tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow) can save you a lot of pain and misery!