Workout Tips

The Lift Doctor: Elbow Pain and Squat Rack Etiquette

Our Lift Doctor answers your questions about how to ease elbow soreness during curls and squat rack use.

The Lift Doctor: Elbow Pain and Squat Rack Etiquette

Question 1: I got a sore elbow from doing curls. It doesn't hurt so bad that I can't lift, but my grip isn't as strong. Is this a permanent pain?” – Chad Jenkins

I hear this same complaint pretty much every day at my gym. And 99% of the time it comes from doing tons of curls with a straight barbell. Nothing will wreck your wrists and elbows faster than performing curls with a bar that locks you into an unnatural fixed position. Transitioning to dumbbells for biceps work will allow your wrists and elbows to move freely as you curl, and this will be the best decision you’ll make for your long-term training. 

Replacing the bar with dumbbells will hep account for each lifter’s individual limitations and levers. Some other exercises you might not think about are chin-ups and pull-ups. They have been known to cause the same issues; pain in your elbows, wrists and shoulders. The chin-up/pull-up bar is fixed too, right? Simply by changing to neutral grip, using softball grips or towels; is the key is to finding a different angle that feels better to you. 

As an older lifter, I rarely do pull-ups on a straight bar or curls with a barbell. With that being said, if your pain has not subsided, I would definitely recommend going to see your doctor to get checked out. It is better to be safe than sorry.