Elbow pain when you bench press DOES have definite causes and definite solutions.

You’ll want to get on board quickly before the injury becomes chronic.

I’m a former certified personal trainer and I consulted with Edmond Cleeman, MD, about the specific causes of elbow pain while or after bench pressing.

He is a board certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder, knee and hip.

Dr. Cleeman explains five possible causes of your elbow pain as a result of doing bench presses. They are as follows:

Though bench pressing is considered the king of chest exercises, it also stresses the triceps muscles.

“I’ve seen many weight lifters with triceps tendinitis and occasionally they develop a bone spur at the insertion site,” says Dr. Cleeman.

Tendons join muscles to bone, and this tendon juncture at the triceps to the elbow bone could be inflamed, causing pain there from bench pressing.

He continues: “Lateral epicondylitis/medial epicondylitis (tennis or golfer’s elbow). Essentially inflammation of the tendons that allow for gripping, flexion and pronation of the wrist.”

With this, the person will feel pain on the inside, or outside, of his or her elbow.

Another source of elbow pain from bench pressing is ulnar nerve irritation.

This is the “funny bone” nerve that runs on the elbow’s inner side.

Ulnar nerve irritation will cause numbness and tingling in the pinky and fourth fingers, as well as that “funny bone” discomfort in the elbow.

Dr. Cleeman also says that inflammation (overload) of the ligaments and capsule can also be a culprit.

“Some I’ve seen have developed arthritis (wearing away of the cartilage) from the continuous overloading and stress for years.”

Solutions to elbow pain experienced from bench pressing: You won’t want to hear this, but you MUST lay off the bench pressing until the problem heals. Consult with an orthopedic doctor to get the right diagnosis.

Treatment for ulnar nerve irritation, for instance, isn’t the same as treatment for triceps tendonitis.

But in all cases, taking a vacation from bench pressing will be called for. Perhaps another chest routine won’t aggravate the joint, such as declined dumbbell presses.

While the elbow problem is getting treated, you can replace bench presses with the “pec dec” as well as flyes.

How to Prevent of Elbow Pain from Bench Pressing

Dr. Cleeman advises the following:

“Stretching; Warm-up; Slow buildup in strength/weights;

Work on strength building other muscles in upper extremity besides the pecs;

Avoid bouncing the weights;

Have a personal trainer show you proper technique;

Consider icing down the elbow after a workout to prevent inflammation (similar to a baseball pitcher icing down their shoulder after a game).”

Basic treatment for elbow pain from bench pressing: Dr. Cleeman advises rest and ice, and “NSAIDS (e.g., Motrin, Advil, Alleve) are the key.” He adds, “Possible injection (PRP-plasma rich platelet, steroid).”

Dr. Cleeman is an assistant clinical professor at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, and is actively involved in orthopedic research. He’s a founding member of TRIARQ, a community of orthopedists and physical therapists.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, health and personal security topics for many years, having written thousands of feature articles for a variety of print magazines and websites. She is also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.