5 Popular Crossfit Movements That Promote Tennis Elbow And Make It Worse

tennis elbow from crossfit

It’s hard to come across someone these days who has not heard of crossfit.

Over the past 10 years, this specific type of fitness regime has exploded and become very popular across all age groups.

But like any type of exercise program, injuries are quite common.

One that occurs frequently among Crossfitters is tennis elbow.

Why is this and what can you do about it?

And …

What does this mean for you?

First let me quickly give you an overview on Crossfit and how the program works.

The goal is to do as much as you can in the shortest possible of time.

In other words – go hard with as much intensity as you can.

The person who performs the measurable goal in the shortest time is the winner.

For example, this exercise regime uses Workouts of the Day(WOD)  which are posted on chalk or marker boards usually in a gym type of setting.

It usually involves exercises that incorporate aspects of rowing, gymnastics, weightlifting and running.

You basically push yourself to try to improve your WOD time for the number of rounds specified.

Here’s just one example of a WOD:

5 rounds for reps of:
1 min of 185 lbs. deadlifts
1 min of push-ups
1 min of knees-to-elbows

WODs can be anything that the instructor wants to come up with as long as it targets everyday functional movements and incorporates some degree of running, weightlifting, gymnastics, etc.

But here is where the problem lies when it comes to developing injuries such as tennis elbow.

Due to the intensity and constant squeezing, lifting and gripping, these exercises are vulnerable to repetitive strain injuries that occur at the joints.

Checkout this crossfit forum post where users share their experiences.

To be more specific, the following 5 exercises are known to increase your risk of getting tennis elbow and/or making your outer elbow pain worse.


crossfit deadlift

Here is how Crossfit recommends to properly and safely perform the deadlift:

  • Stand with your feet at hip width apart
  • your hands positioned on the bar just outside of hip width
  • full grip on the bar – avoid thumbs over the bar
  • Bend with your shoulders slightly in front of the bar
  • maintain a lumbar curve
  • your shoulders and hips should rise at the same rate of speed
  • the bar should move over the middle of your foot
  • maintain contact with the floor through your heels
  • at the top of the movement ensure you complete full hip and knee extension

2.Kettlebell swings

kettlebell swings crossfit

Proper form and technique as follows:

  • stance is slightly wider than shoulder width
  • your hips descend back and down but staying above your knees
  • lumbar spine maintains a curve
  • knees are straight in line with your feet/toes
  • as you thrust the kettlebell upwards, your hips and legs explode rapidly resulting in the kettlebell being driven upwards and overhead
  • maintain solid contact through your heels on the floor until your legs and hips become extended
  • your arms should remain straight throughout the entire kettlebell swing/movement
  • as the kettlebell comes down and you get ready to begin the next repetition, ensure your hips are in a partial squat position


crossfit pullups

The majority of crossfit enthusiasts refer to this movement as the Kipping Pull up.

Here’s how to do it:

  • position your hands just outside of shoulder width
  • again full grip on the bar
  • starting position is hanging with arms extended
  • begin the movement and swing with your shoulders
  • alternate between arched and hollowed positions
  • drive your hips towards the bar in the hollowed position while pushing down on the bar with your straight arms
  • rapidly extend your hips and pull with your arms
  • pull up with your arms until your chin is positioned over the bar
  • come down by pushing away from the bar to begin another rep


rowing crossfit

How to do it the cross fit way:

  • Sit forward on the machine, knees bent, handle in hand with arms extended and hips slightly behind shoulders
  • Push away with your legs and as they extend maintain the same hip angle at your waist
  • Now push forward from your hips until your midline/torso leans backwards
  • Your arms pull the handle into your sternum as your elbows go back
  • return to the starting position with your arms extended, torso bent forward, knees bent deep into your midsection
  • repeat

5.Farmers carry

farmers carry

Can be performed using dumbbells, kettlebells or the more challenging way is with a barbell.

  • Get yourself a challenging dumbbell or barbell weight
  • set them down on the floor next to your feet on either side
  • mark off a distance in which you will carry the weight and return back to your starting position
  • bend your knees and squat down to grasp the weight in both hands
  • now walk or run to the end of the marked course and back again
  • remember this is a timed event

But that’s just part of the story.

Of course these are not the only exercises that can cause elbow conditions such as tennis elbow.

You can check out my post right here that gives some great tips on how to stop pain in your elbow when weight lifting.

As it turns out …

Basically any crossfit movement that require strong gripping or pulling movements should be of concern.

So why is it that these exercises and crossfit movements are responsible for causing tennis elbow?

It’s due to the extreme strain and pressure on your extensor muscles and tendons which attach at your elbow.

Due to the intensity of crossfit, you are racing against time, looking to set PR’s all the while performing gripping, squeezing and pulling actions at break neck speed.

The force required of your extensor muscles and tendons is extreme to say the least.

Over time, these tissues and structures start to break down and small tears develop.

This is when the true pain of tennis elbow sets in.

Nevermind the pain experienced doing your Crossfit, simple actions like shaking hands, twisting the lid off a jar, opening the fridge door, turning a doorknob can truly become unbearable.

So what’s the answer and solution to tennis elbow?

It’s actually much easier and simpler than you think.

You can move forward with your crossfit workouts and training and fully recover if…

You take 2-3 minutes every other day to follow this proven 5 step formula.

And here’s the best part …

You can do them from the convenience and comfort of the chair you are sitting on this very minute.

How great is that?

Click on the big button below where a video will layout the 5 step plan for you.

Follow these easy steps for pain relief

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