Can’t do pulling exercises (rows, chin-ups, deadlifts) because of elbow pain?
I have the solution. Elbow pain often comes in the form of “golfer’s elbow.”
This is an inflammation of the tendon on the inner (medial) aspect of the elbow. The medical name is medial epicondylitis.
Not all people with golfer’s elbow got it from golfing. It can also occur from sports involving throwing as well as from lifting weights.
Lifting weights is how I got golfer’s elbow. Many muscle building enthusiasts find that golfer’s elbow prevents them from performing exercises that involve pulling, because in order to pull something, you must grip it with your hand.
The medial epicondyle tendon is activated with gripping. Hence, gripping (as you do for the deadlift, seated row and lat pull-down) aggravates golfer’s elbow.
Work the Back and Biceps Despite Golfer’s Elbow
After a lot of experimentation at the gym, I figured out ways that someone with this condition can STILL DO PULLING EXERCISES.
How to do the deadlift with tendonitis of the elbow. Tendonitis doesn’t mean you must entirely sacrifice the deadlift motion and end up with pathetically weak back muscles.
How to do lat pull-downs. There is no need to give these up. You just have to know how to modify them to accommodate your elbow pain so that the tendon has a chance to heal.
How to do biceps curls. You can actually activate the biceps without having to grip the handles of a free weight or a machine. Try my technique to prevent your biceps from going flat on you.
How to do shoulder shrugs. You won’t get traps like the Incredible Hulk, but at least there will be some degree of activation with this modified approach.
Golfer’s elbow stinks, but it doesn’t have to keep you from working the back and biceps muscles.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.