Lifting weights is a great way to build muscles and get stronger. Using the correct form and the appropriate weight for every lift is important to avoid injury. While you may experience muscle soreness, especially when starting a new lifting routine, forearm pain from lifting is not normal. Stop and consult your doctor if you experience pain while exercising, especially if the pain is severe or comes on suddenly.
If your forearm hurts when lifting weights, it may be the result of normal soreness, poor weightlifting form, or a more serious injury.
Forearm Pain From Lifting
Pain in the arms when lifting may be the result of normal muscle soreness, or delayed-onset muscle soreness. Even if you were not focusing on developing your forearms, those muscles are working to grip the weights. This normal soreness occurs one to three days after a workout.
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You can relieve the soreness with gentle movement and exercise, over-the-counter pain medication and massage. The soreness should start to dissipate within a couple of days.
If the pain is so severe that you can't perform normal daily activities or you have other symptoms such as dark urine or flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. This may be a sign of a more serious injury or condition such as rhabdomyolysis, which occurs when the muscles break down and release proteins into the bloodstream and damage the kidneys.
Poor Form When Lifting
Forearm pain when lifting weights may be the result of poor form. If you are not gripping the weight correctly or are lifting in a way that puts your joints out of alignment, this can cause pain and lead to more serious injuries.
If you are new to lifting or are trying new exercises, consider working with a trainer to make sure you are using correct form and lifting an appropriate amount of weight. Trying to lift too much too soon can also cause pain and injury.
Be sure to breathe as you perform the exercises and lift and lower the weight in a smooth and controlled motion. Jerky movements may wrench your joints and muscles.
Read more: How to Get Started with Weightlifting
Tendonitis Pain in the Forearm
Overuse from the repetitive motion or improper form when lifting may cause injury or inflammation to the muscles and tendons of the forearm. Tendonitis in the wrist near the thumb is called de Quervain's disease and the pain can extend into the forearm. You may also develop tendonitis in the elbow, sometimes called tennis elbow or golfers elbow, which can also cause pain that extends into the forearm.
Other symptoms of tendonitis may include swelling, redness, heat and weakness in the affected joint. Tendonitis can usually be treated with at home care including rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. Your doctor may recommend wearing a brace for certain activities depending on the location of the injury. In more severe cases, physical therapy may be recommended.
If you have pain in your arms when lifting or you experience severe pain that doesn't improve, contact your doctor as it may be caused by a stress fracture. This is rare but may require surgery.
- Right as Rain: "This Is Why You Have Sore Muscles Two Days After You Work Out"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Six Tips for Safe Strength Training"
- University of Washington Medicine: "Bursitis, Tendinitis, and Other Soft Tissue Rheumatic Syndromes"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Tendonitis"
- National Institutes of Health: "Stress Fracture of Ulna Due to Excessive Push-Ups"