Avoid Elbow Pain


Well-known member

Several common forearm injuries can plague trainees. The most well known is tennis elbow, which is a strain of the origin, or tendon attachment, of the wrist extensor muscles on top of the forearm. Strain and pain on the bottom of the elbow is often called golfer’s elbow, and I’ve addressed that pain from triceps training several times. The last strain is to the large forearm muscle known as the brachioradialis. Regrettably, strains to that muscle can linger and be very resistant to treatment.

The brachioradialis has a broad origin on the lower portion of the humerus, or upper-arm bone, and inserts, or attaches, by a long tendon to the thumb side of the wrist. It’s certainly the largest muscle of the forearm. Its function is to flex, or bend, the elbow; it also helps to turn the palm partially upward, in supination, or downward, in pronation. The brachioradialis is used strongly in pulling movements such as pullups, pulldowns and all types of rows. For many trainees those movements develop the brachioradialis sufficiently. Trainees who want to develop the muscle more should include hammer curls in their arm workouts. Many powerlifters also incorporate them because they feel the exercise helps support the arm and elbow during very heavy bench presses.

The brachioradialis can be strained from overtraining. It can also be injured if you carry heavy items for long distances. An example is moving many dozens of boxes to and from trucks while moving in or out of an apartment or house. Another example is carrying luggage for long distances in airports.

Once the muscle is strained, you become aware of how many exercises use it. Suddenly back and arm workouts are compromised. Trainees typically train lighter, hoping the strain will pass quickly, but instead it lingers. The next step is to stop training back and arms. The strain is often aggravated; for example if a trainee has to travel and carry a suitcase. Halfway across the airport it starts to ache—and recovery is further delayed.

Medical treatment for this injury usually includes various combinations of anti-inflammatory medication, soft-tissue mobilization, ultrasound, electric muscle stimulation and laser. For reasons that are not clear, brachioradialis strains resist treatment. That means they can last for many weeks or months.

A strain of the wrist flexors on the bottom of the forearm is usually aggravated by triceps training when you don’t keep your wrist straight. When the wrist bends upward in an extension position, there’s a stretch on the flexor muscles, and that pulls on the tendons and origin. The stretch is magnified when trainees try to force an extra rep or two by accelerating the bar through the movement. The strain usually resolves when they begin to keep their wrist straight during triceps training.

Tennis elbow can also linger. Strains of the wrist extensors on top of the forearm at the elbow are usually caused by a combination of overuse and the weakness of the wrist extensors. Strengthening the wrist extensors will improve the condition. That info, by the way, is circulating on the Internet as if it were a new discovery. It isn’t. I learned it in biomechanics courses in the late 1970s, and it was supported by research. The traditional reverse wrist curl is a great exercise for the wrist extensors, as is a wrist roller.

Keep in mind that these muscles are used in many activities, and that’s why it’s painful to shake someone’s hand during an acute episode of tennis elbow. While reverse wrist curls will help—start with very light weight—other exercises may aggravate the condition. I often see trainees in the gym performing laterals with their wrists bent downward, in a flexed position. That loads the elbow unnecessarily.

A little preventive work can save your elbows and keep you in the gym and training. Train smart; then train hard.

—Joseph M. Horrigan 

SOURCE - Iron Man Magazine July 22, 2011




Thanks for sharing. My brachioradialis on my right arm is so bad lately I can't sleep at night without some kind of pain med (aspirin or ibuprofen)  but even then it's hell. I considered not working out but that seemed a terrible idea. I did back up on weight a little bit to ease the strain but mostly I just bought a 'strap' for my forearm to put pressure on the muscle.

It's been bad for most of a year now but was doing better until last week. 

I now know what it's called, even if I can't pronounce it.   Any advice on treatment?  Just keep working out and putting on ice packs until it heals?  Anyone have experience here?

Thanks SF



Active member

Good article. I've had tennis elbow on a few occasions. I would avoid any direct movement that caused pain or discomfort.



New member

Ok, I can't confirm that but it kicks my ass. I have had it 8 out of the last 12 months and have done everyting listed in SemperFi's post. Nothing has really helped with the exception of the tennis elbow wrap they sell at CVS/Walgreens. Some days that allows me to train but it is just masking the problem. 


Nothing has seemed to help and I was getting desperate. I was doing research and found people who had suffered from it for more than a year. They went to acupuncture and swore after 3 treatments it was gone completely. I am very skeptical since I had dry needling done 8 times and it was no help. I bit the bullet and tried it yesterday. Today was the 1st day in 3-4 months I woke up with no pain in my elbow. Most mornings it takes 2-3 minutes just to straighten my arm. 


I am not saying it is a miracle but damn if it didn't feel like one. I feel 100 times better today than I have in months. I asked the Dr who did it how many times I needed to come in. I did not tell him about what I read and he said 3-4 times it should be gone. After that once a mo. visits for maintenance. He also told me to continue to train just as I normally would. That sure isn't what the rehab people said. I will take his word though since I am more pain free after 1 visit with him than I have been after spending a grand or so with other people trying to fix it. 


I've always done a ton of hammer curls but never any wrist curls with any regularity. I will be adding them in once I am confident enough to do that without causing more trauma. My pain went from my elbow (and back of tricep right above elbow) all the way down to my wrist. It hurts like crap just to turn my wrist over most of the time and stretching the wrist is brutal. 


I was a skeptic but if 1 treatment is any indication then I am very hopeful this will be the fix I needed.