You’re asking how to fix deadlift elbow pain? Well, let’s go over this interesting topic.
Lateral epicondylitis, or more formally known as Tennis elbow is inflammation and a mild to severe pain that shows up around the outer elbow tendon.
There are a variety of reasons for why it comes about and may trigger some excruciating pain during the deadlift, or simple movements like gripping and moving at the joint (1).
During the deadlift, a lifter needs to grip the bar and extend the elbow, which could become very difficult when one is experiencing this elbow issue.
For this reason, we touched on what could cause elbow pain, followed by discussing 13 solutions to fix it.
What Causes Elbow Pain?
It is usually an overuse injury from lifting, working, or any activity that is continuously putting stress on the outer elbow tendon i.e., lifting.
Other times it can occur from blunt force trauma, like bumping your elbow against the squat rack (1).
Learn more about Shoulder Pain from Deadlifting: Causes & Solutions
13 Solutions to Fix Deadlift Elbow Pain?
If you have this elbow pain, WORRY NOT! We have put together 13 solutions that could help fix this. Some which could be quick fix while others take longer and take more drastic measures.
Stay tuned as this could get you deadlifting pain free, as fast as possible.
Generally, I would suggest the more natural solutions. If these fail to have any effect, you may want to visit your medical doctor who may prescribe a more artificial treatment.
1. Observe Exercises That Do Not Cause Elbow Pain
Do exercises that take the tension off the elbow tendon. You could try cutting the intensity of the deadlift and choose another alternative that works similar muscle groups and trains a similar chain of movements.
Examples of alternatives could be;
- Leg Press
- Bodyweight lunges
By taking the pain off the elbow, you are giving the tendon time to recover and wash away some of that swelling instead of breaking down the tendon.
Check out Sumo Deadlift Alternatives
2. Diet and Nutrition
a) Fruit and Veg
In fact, a diet rich in micronutrients and phytochemicals (fruit and vegetables) can help to bring down inflammation in the body from their antioxidant effect.
So abiding by the guidelines, I would suggest at least getting 5 fruit and vegetables a day.
b) Dietary Protein
Proteins are the building block to help build and repair bodily tissues like muscles and tendons, so It could be a good idea to eat enough. In general, I recommend 2-3g of protein per kg or 1g per pound.
Glucosamine is a substance that helps build tissues of the body that include joint cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
For this reason, consuming enough can help fix the elbow pain and get over that heavy deadlift bar once again.
Glucosamine is quite difficult to get from the diet, so you can take a supplement to get at least 1000 mg per day.
b) Collagen Peptides
Collagen is another tissue that makes up a large amount of tendons. You can get collagen from foods like bone broth, lamb chops, chicken legs etc.
The research suggests around 10-20g per day for a few months optimal tissue repair, so you could eat certain foods combined with supplements.
4. Warm Up Before Exercise
Warming up is crucial! It helps to increase core temperature and lubricate the joints with synovial fluid.
In turn, this makes the tissues of the body more pliable and reduces the risk of further injury i.e., elbow tendon strain.
5. Elbow Sleeve
An elbow sleeve is normally made of an elastic material called neoprene and inexpensive. It is worn around the elbow joint, which helps secure the joint and take the tension off the area.
In fact, this may help to give the elbow the rest it needs to recover.
However, this does not give you the freedom to workout with heavy deadlift loads. If any lift is still bringing out pain, just drop the ego and back off.
Read how Weight Lifting Belts Help Lower Back Pain
6. Cold Therapy
Applying a cold object (i.e. ice packs or frozen peas) directly to the elbow can bring down some of the pain and swelling (1).
Cold therapy constricts the blood vessels and brings down circulation. Cold therapy is commonly used upon getting injured.
7. Myofascial Release
Elbow pain can be relieved to some extent by a quick fix called myofascial release. Over time the muscles and tendons can get tight, and applying pressure to the most tender area can help release it.
You can use an object and apply pressure to the area for 30 seconds, stretch it for 30 seconds. You can repeat this exercise 3-4 times.
Many tools could be employed for myofascial release, which include;
- Foam Roller
- Lacrosse Ball
- Massage Gun
Physiotherapy is another option. A healthcare professional would give you a set of exercises that can help to strengthen the muscles around the elbow and encourage blood flow to bring down the pain/stiffness.
The length of time that you may need physiotherapy will vary from person to person, but could take up to a few months (1).
9. Shock Wave Therapy
Shock wave therapy is another non-invasive treatment that may help relieve elbow pain. High energy shock waves are passed through the elbow joint and bring down inflammation.
As a matter of fact, a study by Rogoviano et al (2) found that patients can experience a 59.89% decrease in pain with the use of shockwave therapy.
If you decide to go ahead with shock wave therapy, you will need 3-5 sessions with elbow pain getting a little better with each session (1).
10. Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs
Anti Inflammatory drugs may help relieve elbow pain for a short time. This does not give you the freedom to train as heavy as you want but can keep you pain free for a short while (1).
These are over the counter, so you probably do not need a prescription. Nevertheless, I always recommend you to seek advice from a health care professional, to determine if the treatment is right for you.
11. Prescribed Steroid Injections On Site
When pain is so severe that you are unable to move your below properly, your medical doctor may prescribe an injection of synthetic cortisol in the elbow tendon (1).
This procedure can reduce inflammation and pain for around 2 months, keeping you somewhat pain free. This window of time gives you the opportunity to fix the problem through other solutions like physiotherapy.
After this period, you may be able to resume proper deadlift with much less pain.
12. Prescribed Platelet Rich Injections (PRP)
Blood plasma can be injected directly into the elbow tendon, which can speed up the recovery process of the damaged tissue.
This could go hand in hand, with a lot of the other highlighted solutions like physiotherapy, diet, supplementation, rest etc.
This treatment offers some short term relief, but it is unknown whether it can halt off the problem over the long term (1).
For the most severe cases of deadlift elbow pain, surgery is an option. During surgery, the damaged part of the elbow is removed.
The recovery process after surgery can take months upon months and usually transitions onto physiotherapy to regain some arm strength.
Unfortunately, after surgery you may never be able to bring back 100% of your deadlift strength (1).
All in all, deadlift elbow pain around the outer side is far too common among gym goers’. Furthermore, it can come about from overuse of the elbow or bumping the elbow into a solid object.
We thought of 13 solutions that may help get rid of the pain and have you performing gym lifts like the deadlift once again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Assuming you are young and have the potential to recover naturally I would say that avoiding anything that causes pain, coupled with diet and supplementation could work well.
When the pain is out of control, you can no longer lift or no longer move the elbow, and none other solutions prove to have any relief. Only then your medical doctor may recommend surgery.
It can take around 6 months to 2 years on average, but it may be sooner or later depending on how you treat the issue. You may very well respond to one of the 13 mentioned solutions which may boost recovery.
- NHS (2020) ‘Tennis Elbow’ Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tennis-elbow/ (Accessed 12/01/2023)
- Rogoveanu, O.C., Musetescu, A.E., Gofita, C.E. ‘The Effectiveness of Shockwave Therapy in Patients with Lateral Epicondylitis’ Current Health Science Journal. 2018; 44(4): 368 – 373