/ Knackered Elbows

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4450mills - on 19 May 2012
I've been trying to increase my upper body strength by doing pull ups. I've managed to get up to being able to do about 15-20 (I know, not much at all, but I only started climbing recently!) but I keep getting pain in my elbows afterwards.

Could it be something I'm doing wrong (arm spacing, or anything like that?) or are my joints just useless?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice

Ted
biscuit - on 19 May 2012
In reply to 4450mills:

Impossible to say really. It's often connected to wrong technique. Google dave Macleod's site and elbows and he talks of what may cause it.

http://www.athlon.com.au/articles/r&i_dodgyelbow.pdf

This is good for keeping it at bay but i've always had trouble with my elbows and pull ups and lock offs really aggravate them.
GeoffRadcliffe - on 19 May 2012
In reply to 4450mills: Try looking up the symptoms and teatment of Golfer's elbow and Tennis elbow.

Also, try doing slow controlled pull-ups and always keep a slight bend in your elbow. If you are still getting pain afterwards, stop doing pull-ups for a while and when starting again build up the volume and intensity slowly stopping as soon as any pain or inflammation is felt.

Also, avoid having a very wide grip as this puts a lot more strain on the joints and is a more advanced form of the exercise.
pabbage - on 19 May 2012
Just to throw this into the mix- It's not your elbows. Try looking at your neck, shoulder and lats. Consider your posture. Something in the chain is resulting in a pain in your elbow... And only by fixing that (stretching or strengthening or both) will the pain in your elbow go ... Hopefully!
Woottang - on 19 May 2012
In reply to 4450mills: Another potential source of elbow pain can come from failure to properly develop antagonist muscle groups. If you are knocking off 15-20 pull-ups but never do any work on you chest or triceps then that kind of imbalance can cause problems. Try throwing in either a couple of sets of press-ups or dips after the pull-ups and this may help.

The other thing to remember is that tendons just strengthen more slowly than muscles (due to poorer blood supply) so sometimes you'll make gains, but then need to sort of take it easy to give your joints time to catch up.

There are still loads of other things that could be causing your problems though, this is just what sorted mine. Good luck!
aretherenoneleft on 20 May 2012
In reply to 4450mills: 15-20 pull ups is more than enough. If you can do that many start working on your finger strength and climbing technique. That is once your elbows recover.
Madden - on 20 May 2012
In reply to 4450mills: I've had dodgey elbows for a while, and i found that doing 10-20 press-ups before and after climbing sessions really helped. Also during, as you see fit. Basically, press-ups, for me. Also, when you do your pull-ups, try not to drop back to completely straight arms, as that can damage your arms. Instead, make sure that you return to almost complete straightness in a controlled fashion. Hanging from completely straight arms is a killer on your elbows after a little while.

Also, maybe lay off the powerful things for a while. Work on slabs/technique as opposed to pure strength, and remember to care for your arms however works. Different things fix different people i guess.
Cake - on 21 May 2012
In reply to aretherenoneleft:
> (In reply to 4450mills) 15-20 pull ups is more than enough. If you can do that many start working on your finger strength and climbing technique. That is once your elbows recover.

I concur. Dave McLoed, one of the best British climbers currently, says he can only do about that many pull ups. Finger strength and technique are more important at every level.

On the other hand, I get elbow pain occasionally from climbing at the gym and press-ups and elbow-drops sort it. I would recommend giving up the pull-ups for something more productive mainly though

Cake

Olli-C - on 21 May 2012
In reply to 4450mills: You dont need to be able to do pull ups to climb. Stop doing pull ups and jut climb more, no point in injuring yourself trying to get stronger, not being able to climb is much worse than climbing lower grades. I can do about 5 pull ups, i used to be able to do 10-12 then i got really bad tendonitis, fixed it with loads of opposition like this (both directions) http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3614 I climb much harder now and can do less pull ups.....Ive found that trying to get strong quickly it never works like you expect it to :(
Olli-C - on 21 May 2012
In reply to 4450mills: Press ups too, little and often i did 2 sets of 10 each night and one set of 10 each morning when mine were bad, gets the blood flowing through the elbow tendons which feels nice.

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