Pullups and elbow pain

Discussion in 'Gator Country Health and Fitness' started by Dreamliner, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    Several months ago I broke down and bought an Iron Gym doorway pullup apparatus. I love it. I love it so much that if my house was burning down I'd: (A) save the family (B) save the pets (C) run through the flames one more time and rescue my Iron Gym.

    However, when I got it ... I went rather hog-wild and suffered a fairly nagging case of medial epicondylitis, elbow pain.

    I was a little flummoxed because I'd adopted the neutral-grip, the grip which is typically said to be easier on the elbows.

    Then two things occurred to me: (1) the neutral-grip allows for the most pronounced elbow flexion of the three grips and (2) part-and-parcel of the thumbless grip I was using had me flexing hard with the forearms to assist in the pull.

    These together, I suspect, placed a lot of stress on the tissues around the elbow.

    So, I made three changes: (1) I switched to the standard pronated grip, your standard pullups and (2) brought the thumb back in play and (3) keep my wrists straight, no flexing.

    With standard pullups you can't get the severe elbow flexion that the neutral-grip affords. And using the thumb and extending the wrists takes the already excited forearm flexors out of play a bit.

    Yes, it does impede performance a bit. I'm lacking the height I was getting at top with the neutral-grip. But no pain during the exercise and less residual pain.

    Hope this might help someone out there. Yes, the astute reader will note that I went 'hog-wild' in the beginning and chalk it up as mere overuse. But I do think it's interesting, and encouraging, that these simple changes seem to work as well as they do.
  2. LeafUF
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    LeafUF Well-Known Member

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    I have the same problem with my elbows for different reasons I think. My more serious problem is the top of the forearm or tennis elbow, more so than the inside of the elbow which I think is what you are describing. I have toyed with different grips too and found that if I move one to alleviate the pain on the forearm and focus on that I start to get tightness on the inside. For me the best path was to switch to chin ups instead of pronated or standard pullups and decrease repetitions while increasing weight.

    Since the tendons around my elbow joint are all giving me nagging issues I have done this on many exercises to reduce the amount of use. I am also working on grip and forearm strength a little more which I hope will relieve the stress around the joint.
  3. Dreamliner
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    Dreamliner Well-Known Member

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    Interesting how the conventional recommendation for your problem is the opposite of mine. For you, narrower (with hook grip) is supposed to be better.

    I suppose the take-away here is that most of us don't have bodies which are designed to take a lot of punishment. And the positive spin is that we don't really need a lot of volume to stimulate muscle growth.

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