Power-lifting exercises are most popular among people who focus on building total-body strength as well as size.
Powerlifting consists of squats, bench press and deadlifts..
Deadlifts help you gain overall strength, helps develop muscles across the entire posterior chain and increases athleticism.
But if not done with the correct technique may cause a problem like elbow pain.
Before we get into why deadlifting may cause elbow problems, let’s first talk about how it works.
How this exercise is performed safely and correctly:
· The deadlift like the name suggests is where a person lifts a dead weight (motionless) off of the ground. The weight may be a dumbbell or a barbell.
· If in case you are using a barbell you first load the weights onto the bar and secure them with a collar or pin.
· Then you stand with your feet being 8-12 inches apart – usually hip width apart.
· Then you look down and make sure that the bar is exactly on the middle of your feet. If you wear laced shoes then the middle of your feet will be at the tied part.
· Now look straight down, line your hands up with the bar, slide your hips back, bend your legs and grab the bar until you are locked into place.
· While you are holding the bar move your hips down and squeeze your chest up and retract your scapula. As you do this your back should flatten and go into a neutral spine position.
· You should feel tension in your hamstrings and glutes. Everything through your chain should feel tight. Maintaining this posture and keeping your arms straight take a deep breath and pull the weight up.
· It is a hinge movement with your hips coming forward. Keep your muscles tight until you place the bar down. Make sure that your entire body moves at the same pace when putting the bar down without losing your grip strength on it.
Here is a video that demonstrates how to perform this movement perfectly:
Causes of Elbow pain while Deadlifting:
If you have been having pain in your elbow after deadlifting then you need to assess what went wrong that is causing the pain.
There may be a number of reasons why your elbow is hurting.
· You are not keeping your arms absolutely straight while deadlifting because you are using too much weight.
· You lost grip strength on the bar while placing the bar down that put extra strain on your arms and elbow. This may be the root cause of many injuries occurring as a result of deadlifting.
· You lower the deadlift way too slow which may leave your muscles and joints sore for days.
· You have been doing the deadlift repetitions way too fast and frequently. The forearm and tendons become damaged due to the repetitive overuse. This leads to tenderness on the outside of the elbow, giving you a tennis elbow.
This topic is discussed in detail at the Starting Strength forum – some great tips in there!
How to avoid Elbow Pain caused by Deadlifting?
Now that you are aware of the possible cause of the pain in your elbow after you deadlift, let us discuss ways to avoid it.
There are a number of precautions that you can take to avoid the pain.
Prevention is always better than the cure anyway.
· If you hurt your elbow during a deadlift due to not keeping your arms straight then you need to make sure that you do so. The next time you attempt the deadlift make sure that your arms are absolutely straight. Even a slight bend in the elbow puts the entire load of the barbells on your biceps. You may end up tearing a muscle or if you are lucky enough you will be left with a strain in your arms. So make sure that your arms are straight and fully extended for the deadlift. This prevents your biceps from a potential injury. And it ensures the barbell travels the shortest distance possible.
· Maintaining your grip strength throughout the deadlift is very crucial. If you cannot hold on to the bar firmly then you cannot lift it. There are a few types of grips that you can use. The double overhand grip is the safest for beginners. If you are just starting out then you may want to use it. The second is the mixed grip and the third one is the hook grip. You should consider doing grip strength work to make sure you get the hang of it. By doing this you can make the switch between different styles of grip when needed. Your grip strength will improve as well and you can avoid injuries.
· When attempting the deadlift people tend to get too excited once they have made the lift. Often people fail to realize that lowering the bar and putting it down is trickier than making the pull and end up suffering an injury. Make sure that you keep your body tightened and maintain your posture throughout the deadlift. Put the bar down at a considerate pace. Avoid going too fast or too slow as it will put a strain on your back and arms.
· You need to avoid doing deadlift repetitions too fast to keep from hurting your elbow. When you are doing the deadlifts rapidly your elbow will become subject to rapid motions that it will fail to absorb. You must maintain a standard pace to make sure that you are not putting too much strain on your joints.
How to treat Elbow Pain due to Deadlifting?
If you are already suffering from Elbow pain because of deadlifting then there are a number of remedies that you can use to ease it.
· If your pain is due to a muscle tear then you need to consult a specialist and have a surgery for it.
· If your pain is due to a strain only then you can try one of these remedies.
You can put an ice bag on the area with the inflammation to help ease it.
Avoid direct skin impact and keep a cloth between the bag and skin.
Massage the area with the ice bag for 15-20 minutes several times a day.
Put it away for half an hour after massaging each time and then repeat again.
Too much of anything can be harmful so if you leave the ice bag on for too long you may catch a frostbite and it may worsen the condition.
Check out my in depth post on ice or hear for tennis elbow which will quickly but any pain you have to rest real quick.
You might want to take it slow and let your arms rest.
Resting your muscles will allow your tendons to heal.
If you think that a particular exercise may be hurting your elbow, abandon it for a while.
How long you should be abandoning it, depends on the level of damage done to your elbow.
It will range between a couple of weeks or months.
3. Wear a Brace:
While doing an exercise that requires you to twist your arm, you can try wearing a good counterforce brace.
It is essentially a strap which you can wear just below the elbow.
It will spread the pressure down your arm rather than it being all on your tendon.
This will help ease your elbow pain.
4. Thera Cane Massager:
The Thera Cane massager is a therapeutic massaging tool that you can use yourself.
It works best once you have warmed up a bit so your muscles are not as tight.
Do not just massage on the area effected.
Start from the shoulder and make your way down to your forearm and tendon to help ease the soreness and elbow pain due to deadlifting.
Try rotating your arms and repeating the technique.
Best way to Deadlift to avoid the Elbow Pain altogether:
Perfecting your Deadlift to avoid elbow pain or any other injury takes discipline and having a realistic approach to things.
For starters you would want to perfect your technique for the deadlift.
For this you can take help from a trainer to help you out.
If you are doing it on your own try recording yourself to make sure you are using the correct technique.
Focus on maintaining your grip and posture.
Keep your arms straight and back in a neutral spine position throughout the deadlift.
You can even try using a lower weight until you perfect your technique.
Dr. John Rusin gives a different perspective on how important your grip is when dead lifting.
I highly recommend you check out what he has to say and give his hints and tricks a serious consideration.
This may be demoralizing but practice makes perfect and it is a small sacrifice to make as compared to being out of the gym for months in case of an injury.
Physical discipline starts with first disciplining your mind.
Try imagining that your arms are claws attached to steel rods picking up the bar.
Having this thought will help you keep your arms straight and your elbow out of the way of harm.
While making the grip switch make sure that you maintain an even distance with your hands on the barbell.
When you pull the barbell up from the ground make sure not to jerk or bounce it up.
Try imagining that you are pulling the barbell away from gravity rather than focusing on picking up a weight.
The pull approach will help you achieve a steady movement when pulling up the barbell.
Keep the barbell in contact with your body at all times to avoid putting too much pressure on your biceps.
Lastly make sure that you fully extend your arms when lowering down the barbell.
Just like you pulled up deadlifting.
Imagine your arms being a part of a machine going to and fro in the same position.
This will help strengthen your biceps as well.
But here’s the thing…
If you notice you have elbow pain and discomfort doing other exercises then…
You could have already done damage to your elbow and the structures supporting it.
It is not uncommon for individuals who weight lift to suffer from a condition called tennis elbow.
But don’t worry …
Because there are some very straight forward, in home exercises you can do to overcome your injury fast!
Check out my post right here with a self explanatory video that explains 5 simple steps you can do this very minute to ease your pain.