Resilient Elbows

Off and on since I have been training people I have answered many questions regarding elbow pain. It seems to me that it doesn’t matter if it is sports related, gym related or  just sitting at a desk. The pain is the same. I am not offering treatments here(should see a doctor) but I wanted to share some ways to help keep you in the game, keep your elbows healthy and quite possibility put on added muscle to the forearm.

Lets take a look at the  forearm and elbow

Epicondylitis refers to inflammation of an epicondyle.
- Lateral epicondyltis, also know as Tennis elbow
- Medial epicondyltis, also know as Golfer’s elbow or Throwers elbow

It wasn’t until I started working on Grip Strength that I found the need to balance out my grip training with some opposing movement patterns.(Big thanks to Jedd Johnson here!) We do this in our training all the time working on Push/Pull, Front/Back, Upper/Lower etc,  but I find it is lost when it comes to the  grip and forearm.

So if we are spending our training time in flexion, gripping bars, dumbbells, kettlebells with hundreds or thousands of pounds in a session there should be a balance of the opposing movement…extension

What is Antagonistic Balance? The term “antagonistic balance” refers
to maintaining a realistic balance of strength between opposing muscle groups.

What to do! (video below showing the 4 drills)

1. Rubber Band Finger Extensions + Rotations
-You can pick up some rubber bands from Staples(#84) or Iron Mind sells some with varying sizes which is a nice feature. Idea here is work those extensors. I typically do these daily. I keep them all over my house, at the studio, in my gym bag, in the car. I do 10-20reps then do 5-10 rotations with my hand fully extended. Feels great!

2. Band Wrist Extensions
-I like using a band for these. Just step on one end with both feet, bring my forearms up to parallel with the floor and slowly perform some wrist extensions. Go slow and use control. Other options would be a light dumbbell seated with your forearm resting on the thigh or using an easy curl bar. I hit this 2x a week usually. 12-20reps x 1-2 sets after my workout

3. Sledge Hammer Rotations
-I love this drill. 6lb sledge-hammer is what I use. Find a spot where the leverage is not to hard but not to easy and perform some rotations.(this will change over time) Keep your wrist straight and elbow close to the body. I do these after every workout. 5-10reps per side. There is something magical about this drill…try it!

4. Reverse Curls(Everyone loves curls!)
-I find the Ez Curl bar works best for me. It is more comfortable than a straight bar in my opinion but not totally necessary. You could also use a straight bar, dumbbells, bands. Again I keep the weight not to hard but not to easy.(this will change over time) I hit this 2x a week for 8-12reps x 1-2sets after my workout. If you want to have a bit more fun here try using some FatGripz or using a Thick Bar!

Wrap up
-Be sure to keep your mind engaged during these drills,  do to the higher reps it is easy to just go through the motions and not really pay attention. Spend the extra 5mins after your workout a few times a week and try these out. I have had zero elbow issues for 2+ years  now and have had numerous clients find one or more of these is all they needed in order to stay pain-free.

Any questions, please let me know?

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6 Comments on “Resilient Elbows”

  1. Sean A
    November 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    I just tried my new fat gripz today! I love them! I also need to add in more of the drills above. Nice post Kevin!


    • Kevin Knapp
      November 13, 2011 at 9:21 am #

      Thanks Sean! Fatgripz are great! Have you DL with them yet?

  2. Sebastian
    February 17, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    Hi Kevin,
    great post!
    I think I should practice this more often …
    I like the exercise with the sledgehammer.
    Now I have a good reason to buy one. :)
    Thanks and best regards,

    • Kevin Knapp
      February 17, 2012 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks man! It really is a great drill, I will post some more Sledgehammer lifts if you want? Lots of options to get the most out of your new hammer!

  3. Sebastian
    February 17, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Yes that would be great.
    There really are a lot of exercises especially for grip strength.
    I would be grateful for more exercises from you.

  4. Emmanuel Batzer
    November 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Elbow pain can be managed by taking in some light massage and in some cases pain killers..

    My own, personal web blog

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