Why does my elbow hurt when i bench press? Elbow pain when pressing down

When it comes to bench pressing pain, elbow pain is one of the most common problems that powerlifters (as well as average gym-goers) have.

Why does my elbow hurt when i bench press
Why does my elbow hurt when i bench press

Thankfully, most of the time it’s rather simple to fix. You only need to be aware of a few causes and important principles in this article, you’ll know exactly what they are, how to apply them, and how to resume bench pressing without elbow pain.

What is the elbow of a lifter?

Lifter’s elbow, often known as golfer’s elbow, is a type of overuse ailment. Because of improper loading patterns and usage, the tendons of the wrist flexor muscles become inflamed (Ambler-Wright et al., 2021). Medial epicondyle tendinopathy is a more technical term for this ailment.

What is the elbow of a lifter?

Tendinopathy develops when a tendon suffers more damage than it can repair, which can be caused by poor lifting biomechanics and other repetitive jobs, such as those involving the wrist and forearm in this case.

The wrist flexor tendons commonly adhere to the bony region of the inside of the elbow (medial epicondyle), causing pain and limiting simple tasks.

Tendinopathy is one of the most commonly self-reported musculoskeletal illnesses, and it comes with a slew of risk factors. Recurrence of symptoms is typical, even after treatment. Repetitive loading, high loading, and aberrant and atypical movements are all risk factors for tendinopathy.

The barbell bench press: a functional analysis

The barbell bench press: a functional analysis

A closed-chain exercise, such as a barbell bench press, prevents the distance between the hands from changing. Because of the closed-chain structure of the barbell bench press, the forearms may start perpendicular to the bar but will alter angle at the top and bottom of the press.

Compensation will occur if the client lacks mobility in the shoulder, forearm, or wrist, or is otherwise unable to stabilize the load.

To maintain appropriate kinetic chain checkpoint alignment, the barbell bench press requires optimal shoulder mobility and stability. The elbow and wrist’s overall function is dependent on thoracic spine mobility, scapular stability, and shoulder position.

Muscles that are unduly extended or shortened may not be able to deliver the necessary force to maintain joint stability, resulting in movement compensation as synergistic muscles take on a more dominating role.

Janda’s upper crossing syndrome is an example of a postural distortion pattern that can compromise form and have a detrimental impact on the elbow during a bench press. A forward head, hyperextended cervical spine, and rounded shoulders are all symptoms of upper crossed syndrome.

When Bench Pressing, Why Do You Get Elbow Pain?

When it comes to elbow pain caused by bench pressing, we can categorize it as either originating from a high, repetitive training volume that places excessive demands on the structures around the elbows (leading them to become sore), or as coming from inadequate technique.

A motor control problem is defined as an inability to develop adequate movement technique.

When Bench Pressing, Why Do You Get Elbow Pain?

Problems with Overuse

Because of the intense, repetitive, and frequent stresses bench pressers and weightlifters make on their forearm tendons, this is the most common cause of elbow pain in these athletes (which cross the elbow joint).

This essay will cover a lot of ground in terms of how and why this happens, as well as how to deal with it, as it is common among powerlifters and other strength training athletes.

Problems with Motor Control

Our ability to volitionally and consciously coordinate and carry out certain movements is referred to as motor control. In the instance of bench press, our capacity to coordinate the movement from start to finish for a single rep is referred to as motor control when performing the entire exercise. Consider it your bench technique.

When bench pressing, poor technique can generate excessive, unequal demand or torque on the joint, resulting in elbow pain.

There’s nothing wrong with having poor technique on a single rep, but the more frequently and consistently poor technique is used, the more serious the problem can become.

When lifting greater weights, the same is true; poor motor control with low weight isn’t nearly as worrying or injury-inducing as bad motor control with heavier weight.

During the bench press, emphasizing a neutral grip

Maintaining a neutral grip (as opposed to a close grip bench) is critical, which means the wrist should not be flexed or stretched, and the forearm should not be unduly pronated or supinated.

When you make a fist with each hand and raise your thumbs, the thumb should stay in line with the upper arm. While you wouldn’t grab the bar or handle with your thumb out, the wrist and forearm should be in the same position.

During the bench press, emphasizing a neutral grip

Bench press resistance may begin to outstrip grip strength as a person goes to larger loads and higher training volume, reducing the client’s capacity to maintain a neutral grip orientation and forcing the wrist into extension throughout the press.

The length-tension connection between the wrist extensors and flexors is altered when the wrist is extended, decreasing the wrist flexors’ ability to produce force. The wrist flexor muscles and tendons may become overworked and strained as a result of this condition, which is especially true if the wrist flexors are hyperactive or shortened.

The wrist flexors will not be able to match the demands of the wrist extension position if they are shortened. While the wrist flexors may be hyperactive, this does not necessarily imply that they are strong enough to maintain a neutral grip.

Proper bench press formation modifications

The bench press can be changed in a variety of ways depending on your training goals, personal preferences, and capabilities, such as adding a banded bench or chains to your bench press; nonetheless, even with modifications, perfect bench press form is critical.

A good kinetic chain checkpoint alignment is required when doing a barbell bench press. The client should be lying on a bench with their back against the bench for good form.

Proper bench press formation modifications

The feet should be parallel and pointed straight ahead, with a neutral low back. For people with shorter legs, placing a step or equivalent platform under the feet to maintain a neutral, low back position is acceptable.

For correct kinetic chain checkpoint alignment, the hands should be placed in a way that permits for a neutral wrist and forearms that are perpendicular to the resistance, placing them above the chest.

The client’s ability to regulate the resistance and movement without shoulder, forearm, or wrist compensation will decide the exact distance the weight will be dropped during the eccentric portion of the press. During the deceleration portion of the exercise, look for shoulder elevation or anterior rotation.

Alternatives to the barbell bench press

The set direction of movement and grasp position of the barbell, as previously mentioned, can make it difficult for the client to maintain a neutral grip. As a result, different chest press variations may be a better alternative to the barbell bench press while still providing a significant training impact.

Alternatives to the barbell bench press

For the bench press, dumbbells could be a good substitute for barbells. The dumbbells give you broader range of motion, allowing you to maintain a more neutral forearm position.

Please keep in mind that if the client lacks shoulder stability, dumbbells may allow too much range of movement and control for them to safely perform the dumbbell bench press.

Assume you’re concerned about a lack of movement or stability. In that instance, the client should concentrate on stages 1 and 2 of the NASM OPT Model to better prepare the body for stabilizing larger loads with good form and a neutral grip.

F.A.Q why does my elbow hurt when i bench press:

How do I stop my elbows hurting when bench pressing?

Another thing you can do to help alleviate elbow pain while bench pressing is to expand your grip. Narrower grips put more stress on the triceps for a given weight. As you widen your grip, the stress is shifted away from the triceps and into the pectorals.

How long does lifters elbow take to heal?

Rehabilitation may take four to six weeks before you can resume your daily routine. If conservative treatments fail, minimally invasive surgery to repair or remove the injured tissue may be required.

Where should elbows be benching?

When the weight is on the chest, the elbows should be slightly in or directly in line with the barbell. This is the best position for transferring force from the shoulder girdle to the arms and then to the barbell.


There are a variety of reasons why you may feel elbow pain during benching. Excessive demands on the forearm tendons and technique errors are the most prevalent causes of problems, as they have a big impact on how the elbow has to move and tolerate loads.

Don’t be scared to spend some time figuring out why you’re in pain. If you’re stuck, get a skilled strength coach and/or healthcare practitioner to look things over – it’ll almost certainly be money well spent. Above all, don’t try to push through the discomfort by ignoring it. Your elbows will appreciate you, as will the longevity of your lifting career.

And this article will help you answer the following questions about why does my elbow hurt when i bench press:

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Field John

If you are an avid believer in health and fitness and want to do something for your team, I can help. As the founder of Field Goals Fitness, I lead a collective of health and fitness professionals dedicated to helping Australians lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. With a warm, friendly, and supportive approach that gets results, I enjoy helping individuals & organisations achieve sustainable success with their health and fitness goals. Certifying as a Personal Trainer in 2009, was a turning point in my life. I had spent 14 years in the corporate world in Business Development roles and decided to take all that I had learnt in sales and marketing and start my own business.

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