Elbow Pain Bench Press: Causes, Management, and Prevention Strategies

Elbow pain bench press

Elbow pain during bench press is a common issue faced by weightlifters and athletes. It can significantly hamper performance and cause discomfort and frustration. In this article, we will explore the different causes of elbow pain in bench press, the relationship between elbow pain and other joint and muscle issues, and effective management and prevention strategies. By understanding the underlying causes and implementing preventive measures, individuals can alleviate their elbow pain and continue to engage in bench press exercises with confidence.

Common Causes of Elbow Pain in Bench Press

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a prevalent cause of elbow pain in bench press. It involves inflammation of the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. Overuse and repetitive strain on the tendons can lead to microtears and subsequent pain. Risk factors for tennis elbow include improper form, excessive weightlifting, and poor conditioning of the supporting muscles. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow, weak grip strength, and discomfort during bench press exercises.

Another type of elbow pain commonly experienced during bench press is triceps tendonitis. The triceps tendon connects the triceps muscle to the elbow joint. Excessive stress on the triceps tendon, particularly during heavy bench press exercises, can lead to inflammation and pain. Symptoms of triceps tendonitis include pain on the back of the elbow, swelling, and limited range of motion.

Golfers elbow, medically known as medial epicondylitis, is similar to tennis elbow but affects the inner side of the elbow. It is caused by overuse of the flexor and pronator muscles of the forearm. Bench press exercises can exacerbate the symptoms of golfers elbow, leading to pain, tenderness, and weakness in the affected region.

Lifters elbow, or ulnar collateral ligament injury, is less common but still significant. It involves damage to the ligament on the inner side of the elbow joint, often caused by repetitive stress or traumatic injury. Bench press exercises can contribute to lifters elbow, particularly when using incorrect technique or excessive weight. Symptoms include pain on the inner side of the elbow, instability, and a clicking sensation.

Relationship between Elbow Pain and Other Joint/Muscle Issues

Elbow pain during bench press can also be associated with shoulder pain and rotator cuff injuries. The shoulder joint and rotator cuff muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the upper body during bench press exercises. Any weakness or imbalances in these muscles can lead to altered mechanics, excessive stress on the elbow joint, and subsequent pain. Individuals experiencing elbow pain during bench press should also consider the health and strength of their shoulder muscles.

Additionally, forearm and wrist issues can contribute to elbow pain during bench press. Grip strength and forearm muscle integrity are vital for maintaining proper form and stability during the exercise. Weakness or strain in these areas can lead to compensatory movements and increased stress on the elbow joint. Strengthening exercises for the forearm and wrist should be incorporated to prevent and manage elbow pain during bench press.

Management and Prevention Strategies

Seeking consultation with a sports medicine professional or physical therapist is crucial for diagnosing and treating elbow pain in bench press. A physical therapist can assess the individual's condition, identify any underlying issues, and provide a tailored treatment plan. Specific exercises and techniques recommended by experts can help alleviate pain and strengthen the affected muscles.

Proper warm-up and cooling down techniques should be employed before and after bench press workouts to prepare the muscles and joints for exercise and promote recovery. Exercise modifications, such as reducing the weight or altering the range of motion, can help individuals avoid exacerbating their elbow pain.

Grip width and grip strength considerations are essential. A neutral grip, with the palms facing each other, can help alleviate stress on the elbows. Strengthening exercises for the triceps, biceps, forearm, and shoulder blade muscles are recommended to improve overall upper body strength and stability.

Addressing underlying biomechanical issues is crucial in managing elbow pain in bench press. Proper form and technique during bench press exercises should be emphasized. Individuals should be evaluated for anatomical imbalances and compensatory movements that may contribute to their elbow pain. A comprehensive approach to upper extremity health should be adopted, focusing on strengthening and stretching exercises for the affected areas.

Rest and recovery are vital components of a successful management plan. Overuse injuries should be respected, and individuals should gradually increase exercise intensity and volume to avoid further strain on the elbows.

In cases of chronic or severe elbow pain, professional guidance may be necessary. Sports medicine professionals may recommend corticosteroid injections or surgical options as a last resort to alleviate pain and promote healing.

Try Wearing Elbow Sleeves

By offering compression and support to the elbow joint, tendon, and nearby muscles, elbow sleeves not only alleviate pain but also expedite the healing process and ensure proper form and technique

The benefits of elbow sleeves extend beyond just pain relief. The compression they provide eases the pressure on the forearm, wrist, and elbow muscles. This is particularly beneficial in managing inflammation and stabilizing the joint, especially after overuse injuries like tendonitis or muscle strains. The proprioceptive feedback from the sleeves also sharpens the lifter's awareness of their elbow's position and form, aiding in maintaining a neutral grip and appropriate grip width, which in turn lessens the strain on the elbow and shoulder joints.

Healthcare experts, including physical therapists and sports medicine specialists, frequently advocate for the use of elbow sleeves. These professionals possess the expertise to identify and diagnose the root cause of the elbow pain, be it a tendon rupture, a rotator cuff injury, or any other overuse injury. They can guide individuals in choosing the right elbow sleeve for their needs. Often, they also recommend physical therapy exercises that focus on the affected elbow, shoulder, and upper extremity muscles. These exercises, when paired with elbow sleeves, foster rehabilitation and fortify the surrounding muscles.


Elbow pain during bench press can be a significant concern for weightlifters and athletes. Understanding the common causes of elbow pain, the relationship between elbow pain and other joint and muscle issues, and implementing proper management and prevention strategies can help individuals overcome this issue. Seeking professional help, focusing on strengthening and stretching exercises, and incorporating a comprehensive approach to upper extremity health are crucial for alleviating elbow pain and ensuring a safe and productive bench press routine. By implementing these measures, individuals can continue to enjoy the benefits of bench press exercises while minimizing the risk of elbow injuries.