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Forearm Tendonitis and Barbell Curls

author image Rick Rockwell
Rick Rockwell is a self-employed personal trainer and experienced freelance writer. His articles have been published throughout the Internet. He has more than eight years of experience as a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and lifestyle coach. His company, Rockwell Fitness, is dedicated to educating and empowering others to live healthy lifestyles.
Forearm Tendonitis and Barbell Curls
Some people may experience forearm tendonitis from doing biceps curls. Photo Credit kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Forearm tendonitis – also called tendinitis -- is the inflammation, irritation and swelling of the tendons in the forearm. You may develop forearm tendonitis if you perform a lot of barbell curls in your weight training program. Tendonitis occurs when an injured or inflamed tendon does not heal properly and begins to deteriorate, causing pain.


The main cause of forearm tendonitis is overuse. This may be overuse from repetition or strain due to lifting weights that are too heavy. Forearm tendonitis often occurs when the forearm tendon or muscle is torn. The tear creates swelling and pressure on the tendon which leads to inflammation. Another cause of tendonitis is age. As the human body ages, the tendons lose their elasticity and become brittle. The inflammation limits the ability of your tendons to glide smoothly in the wrist and forearm, creating pain and discomfort. If this condition does not heal properly, the scar tissue will permanently thicken and decrease your range of motion.


It is important to note that forearm tendonitis is different than elbow tendonitis, since it only affects the muscles in the forearm. Signs and symptoms you need to look out for include pain in the top of your forearm during and after a barbell curl workout, and swelling and redness of your forearm. You will note that the pain is different from normal muscle stiffness. You will have trouble moving the forearm freely, or making a fist. Grinding sounds are also common. Usually, pain will develop at night, but as the defect develops, you will experience pain during the day as well.


When diagnosed with tendonitis, your doctor will advise anti-inflammatory medication, ice compression and rest. Since heavy lifting will only worsen the situation, it is best to avoid overly heavy barbell curls and other upper body weightlifting exercises. You will experience some muscle weakness affecting your grip as well. The best exercises during this time are stretching, flexing and light-weight curls. Make sure that weights you are using are much lighter than what you would normally use. Slowly curl the weight up to your shoulder. Pause for a count of one and lower the weight back to the starting position. It is very important to ease into the physical activity.


Tendonitis is very serious. If not treated correctly, it can lead to severe chronic pain and flexibility problems. You should always rest your forearm if you think you may have tendonitis. Always start with smaller barbells and low repetitions to avoid inflaming the tendonitis and causing more problems. Severe tendonitis injuries often require surgery. Avoid tendonitis injuries by always warming up, stretching and exercising within your limits. Make sure you take at least 48 hours between workouts where your forearm is called into play, to allow the muscles and tendons to heal.

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