Elbow Pain Bench Press
As a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and Exercise Rehab Specialist, I spend hours every day in the gym and health clubs. I am frequently called upon to help spot members when I’m not working one-on-one with clients.
The bench press seems to be the “benchmark” when it comes to defining one’s true strength and power in the gym. But when performed incorrectly, it can cause serious injury.
So why is it that some people experience elbow pain when performing the bench press?
To be honest, I doubt if it is the bench press exercise that is the cause of many elbow injuries in the first place.
The reason being is that when you use a barbell, your elbow has a very limited range of motion. Most elbow injuries are caused when your elbow goes far and beyond it’s normal range of motion. More often than not, the majority of elbow injures in the gym are caused when performing dumbbell exercises, again because you have a larger range of motion that can cause your elbow tendons/ligaments to stretch beyond their normal range, which can result in tears and pain.
To help decrease your elbow pain when performing the bench press, ensure that your elbow is at a 90 degree angle when you lower the bar and press it back up. Make sure your wrists are straight and not bent back. Stop the bar an inch above your chest and don’t lock out your elbows at the top. Remember to keep your back flat on the bench and don’t arch. This is the optimal position for maximum drive and less strain on the elbow joint, ligaments and tendons.
If you are not at a 90 degree angle, you are putting extra force on your tendons, ligaments and muscles, and you won’t be able to press as much as you’re capable of plus you are not working your pecs efficiently. You’re only cheating yourself and won’t see any gains in strength or muscle size.
If are suffering from outer elbow pain and discomfort, it’s most likely an injury called tennis elbow. And yes, you can get this injury without playing tennis. It’s not uncommon for people who frequently workout to suffer from a tennis elbow injury at some point. It can most likely be traced back to working out with dumbbells, where you use too much weight or you have poor form when doing the exercise.
Tennis elbow is a repetitive strain injury where you have pain and inflammation on the outside of your elbow. In laymen terms, the extensor tendon that attaches at your elbow, suffers a tear from performing repetitive tasks or actions over an extended period of time.
Performing any type of activities, tasks, hobbies, or sports that requires you to have a tight grip on an object combined with repeated wrist/elbow rotation can cause a tennis elbow injury. You may also experience or suffer from the following tennis elbow symptoms:
- an increase in elbow pain when you extend or flex your wrist
- a decrease in grip strength or you notice you drop or fumble with things more often than before
- pain that sometimes radiates from your elbow down your forearm and into your wrist
- elbow pain that increases when you grip or grasp objects
- performing twisting actions of the forearm causes elbow pain
- your arm is stiff and hard to straighten or fully extend, especially in the morning
- a burning sensation and tenderness on the outside of your elbow
If you can relate to any of the above symptoms, then there is a good chance that you are indeed suffering from tennis elbow. I must warn you though that overtime, when left untreated, tennis elbow only gets worse instead of better. It’s not an injury that you want to take the ‘wait-and-see’ approach with.
But here’s some good news!
You don’t have to waste your hard earned cash on doctors, physio, anti-inflammatories, elbow braces/bands/straps, cortisone shots or think about invasive elbow surgery.
In fact, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own living room to cure your tennis elbow. All it really takes to completely eliminate your tennis elbow pain are 5 simple, step by step techniques that you can do while sitting in your comfy chair watching your favorite television show without the need for any special exercise equipment or gadgets!