One of the biggest potential setbacks for anyone trying to improve upon their physical structure by utilizing weight training is joint pain. Constant nagging pain that never seems to go away or subside even a little is very bothersome and extremely hindering. Even when you think you're feeling good and all the parts are greased up and ready to go, one slight aggravation of the joint in the wrong way and bam, there it is again. The elbows, along with the knees, seem to be the most common area for this sort of thing to occur and for the purposes of this article, I'm going to focus in on how to train with elbow pain simply because the elbows are involved in so many upper body exercises that if not properly addressed, can completely shut down all of your upper body training. So with that said here are a few tips for you to utilize to help you train with minimal elbow pain while you seek the necessary treatment to hopefully eliminate it completely from your life one day.
Take the Time to Thoroughly Warm Up
For some reason or another, I have noticed a very steep decline in the practice of taking the time to warm up and prepare for a high intensity based workout. Sure I see lots of people going hard in the gym, but for the most part, they just get right at it. I guess this is cool and all and most likely the pre-workout fuelled energy they have when hitting the gym floor is propelling them to do so, but I almost feel like that is a recipe for disaster in the form of a premature injury. If within 5 minutes of your workout you're already piling on the plates, you're just looking for unwanted pain in my opinion. You need to take the time to thoroughly warm up, especially if your elbows are coming into play for the exercises you'll be completing, if you want to make weight training a lifelong endeavour. That means lots of light cable push downs, overhead dumbbell extensions, kickbacks and close grip body weight push ups. Doing little exercises like these prior to banging it out with the iron will drive fresh new blood into the elbow joints allowing for them to warm up and lubricate so that when the extreme resistance does hit them, they'll be prepared much better to handle it.
Perform Presses Mid to Last in the Workout
Many times when we first hit the gym floor, we like to open up with our most powerful lifts. The reason for this is that we're fresh and full of energy and want to lift as much as we possibly can to set some new standards for ourselves. The only problem with this scenario is that while you may feel like your muscles are primed and ready to handle the extreme loads, your elbow joints may not yet quite be ready for it and as a result, aggravation on the joint or the tendons in the joint can occur and become the beginning of a nagging injury. If this never happens to you, then awesome! If you're already at this point, I would highly suggest you move your pressing type movements to the middle or end of your workout so that at that point you don't need to handle so much weight to further stimulate the muscle and your elbows won't have to endure as much stress as they normally would.
Avoid Exercises that Really Hurt
The final piece of advice I'm going to give you here is to steer clear away from the exercises that have proven to induce acute pain right off the get go. There is no sense whatsoever in sticking with an exercise, even if everyone tells you it is the holy grail for building muscle mass, if every time you use it you hurt yourself. There are always other exercises to use or other ways to use the exercise you always hurt yourself with if you put some thought and ingenuity into it. If for some reason you just can't discard an exercise and you'd rather push through the pain than not do it at all, find a new angle or new position or some sort of new twist to it that will at the very least, alleviate some of the pain it usually causes you because eventually the pain will just be too much to handle and it will end up creeping into your other exercises and hold you back in that regard. Aside from doing that, the only other reasonable option I see is to just stop performing those exercises.
There are of course other joints in the body that can cause us grief such as our shoulders, wrists and ankles but luckily the ankles never really seem to be a problem for most people and it's probably due to the fact that anyone who knows anything about training and support knows that wearing Heyday Footwear Tactical Trainers any time they squat is standard protocol and superior practice to anything else they can do for themselves. So do yourself a favour, follow the tips outlined above, buy a pair of Heydays and make joint pain a thing of the past.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.