Elbow Pain From Working Out

Certain exercises can cause pain and injury to your elbows during or after working out. You may use your elbows more than you realize -- any exercise that requires bending, pushing, pulling and reaching incorporates your elbow joint and surrounding muscles. If you encounter elbow pain from working out, it's important to seek out proper treatment and to learn how to prevent injuries in the future.

A man is holding his sore elbow.
Credit: Hlib Shabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images


Elbow pain after a workout can be caused by a variety of issues, and weightlifting is a common culprit. If you overextend your elbow when lowering a dumbbell, for instance, the joint could become hyperextended and suffer injury. Allowing your posture to slacken or using overly heavy weights could also lead to pain and injury. Not warming up before doing strength-building exercises could lead to locked elbows or pulled tendons.


If your elbow hurts after working out, rest it immediately. That is, you shouldn't work out again until the joint no longer hurts. However, this can be difficult because bending and stretching your elbow is required to perform standard, daily activities. If barely moving your arm causes pain, you need to immobilize your elbow, using a sling or brace, to prevent further injury.


Treating workout-related elbow pain can take several paths. For minor discomfort or pain, you can use an ice pack on the joint to reduce swelling and inflammation. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can also cut through minor pain and allow you to resume your normal life. In the cases of severe pain, you might need to see a physician. She can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and treatment path, which can include immobilizing the joint with a splint, physical therapy and surgery.


To prevent elbow pain in the future and further injuries, always warm up properly before every workout. One way to do this is to perform arm circles and to stretch each arm across your chest. Flexing your wrist and lightly pulling on your fingers can give your elbow a good stretch as well. Use proper form during exercise to prevent injuries. Consult a fitness professional if you aren't certain on how to do some types of exercise. You can wear elbow braces as a preventive measure.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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