How to crossfit to cope with pain in the elbows

Simple tips on how to cope with annoying pain in the elbows while practicing Crossfit

You probably understand (or start to understand) that any part of your body can get under serious pressure during class in the hall, especially if you have bad technique and flexibility leaves much to be desired . Elbows are no exception to this rule. Elbow tendonitis is a widespread disease that affects huge masses of the population, not only crossfitters (although it is very common among regulars of the hall). Actually, aching pain from elbow tendonitis is better known as the “elbow of a tennis player” (lateral epicondylitis, severe pain on the outer surface of the elbow joint), although less than 5% of patients with this disease actually play tennis.

What is elbow tendonitis?

In fact, tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon, in the place where it is associated with the bone. The suffix “init” means inflammation and is usually used with the corresponding part of the body, for example, achillotendinitis, etc. The tendon is an elastic connective tissue in our body that connects the muscles to the bone and absorbs many loads. In general, inflammation is a frequent process in our body, and we all experienced pain, swelling, redness and fever, which occurs in response to acute inflammation. This inflammatory response should be rapid and acute, not prolonged. Unfortunately, the tendons have very poor blood supply, which can lead to the impossibility of curing and inflammatory reaction, which becomes chronic or even systemic. These inflammations can be irritating to the painful. Common symptoms include:

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  • Repeated pains of the outer surface of the elbow joint, just below the elbow bend, are the most common sign of trauma.

  • Pain down the arm toward the wrist.

  • Feeling pain when lifting or flexing the hand.

  • Pain when performing basic actions, for example, during writing, or pain when capturing small objects, such as the pen, are also possible symptoms.

  • Pain when turning the forearm, for example, when you turn the door handle, can also be a lateral epicondylitis, or difficulty with the full extension of the forearm.

  • The pain can last about 3 – 12 weeks.

What is the reason?

The ulnar tendonitis is classified as a chronic stretch of tendons of a traumatic nature and is usually caused by excessive stress on the wrist and is felt in the elbow. But since the muscles that control the extension and flexion of the hand are located along the arm from the wrist to the elbow (or along the forearm) and are connected around the elbow joint, repeated stresses on the wrist can lead to the elbow tendonitis. This is a common problem for professional tennis players – hence the name (now you’ll look a bit differently at the racket). This ailment is also common among people who are just beginning their way in certain sports (for example, crossfit), and vigorously seeking to conquer the summit. Unfortunately, the body (including joints and tendons) is not able to withstand unusual and sharp – and often with a thousand repetitions – movements, thereby obtaining an inflammation in the attachment point of the tendon to the bone. Repeated movements, such as a large amount of pull-ups or push-ups, gardening, printing on the computer for most of the day, can lead to tendonitis – not to mention disregarding the first signs of anxiety (soreness, swelling), and also “working through pain.” In addition, previous injuries, such as sprains, can also lead to tendonitis. Joints that were previously injured are more at risk of disease. Diet, in which a lot of sugar, cereals, unsaturated fats, alcohol, omega-6 fatty acids, dairy products, sodium glutamate and food products that have been processed, contributes to the development of inflammation, so it should not come as a surprise, that the consumption of such products in large quantities leads to similar problems. A nutritional imbalance, namely, a low content of essential nutrients, including vitamin C, magnesium, and a low amount of protein (that is, lean and plant foods) can also cause a risk of tendonitis.

How to treat / reduce the risk of tendonitis?

If the symptoms persist for more than 4 weeks, you should visit a physiotherapist. But there are several tips, the implementation of which will reduce the risk of tendonitis:

1. Correct your technique.   If there is pain when doing exercises, then you should make sure that the technique of doing the exercises is correct or the position is convenient. Consult your trainer to make sure that you perform every move in the room correctly.

2. Stretching. Perform a gentle stretching of the musculature of the forearm. These stretch marks should be performed without pain. You should feel a slight stretch along the muscles, but the pain in the elbow should not be present.

a. Flexor flexing of the wrist:

i. Extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing up.

ii. Bend your wrist, pointing your palm toward the floor.

iii. With your other hand, gently bend your wrist further until you feel a moderate stretch in your forearm.

iv. Hold your hand in this position for at least 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times.

b. Extension of the extensor wrist:

i. Repeat points 1 to 4 of the stretch above, but start with your palm stretched out with your hand down.

c. Voodoo Ribbon:

i. Wrap the elbow of the voodoo with tape (or bandage) across the joint with tension.

ii. Turn your palm up (down) and bend (unbend) the elbow.

iii. After a certain time (from 30 seconds to 1 minute), remove the bandage.

3. Tidy your meals.   As I said above, you should limit the amount of inflammatory products that you consume for pleasure, in addition, your diet should contain the required amount of nutrients and high-quality low-fat meat. Another reason for the paleo diet.

4. Do not engage in pain.   You will understand when something goes wrong. Of course, our muscles and joints often become inflamed, but your body will let you know if something goes wrong, so there is no point in overcoming yourself, just finish the workout. Remember, so you can go back to practice again, just the next day. So, if it’s important for you to lose weight, add pull-ups to your program with an expander or replace exercises with a load on your elbow for something else.

5. Use the rubber flex-bar.  In 2009, the  New York Times published an article detailing the results of a study of the use of an 8-inch licensed rubber flex bar for chronic severe elbow pain. The study involved 2 groups – the control group did regular physiotherapy (FT), and the second group did FT and used the method of treatment with a rubber flex-bar. After about 8 weeks, the study was completed. Those who used the flex bar reported high effectiveness of this method of treatment, 81% had pains in the elbow, and 72% increased strength and strength.

6. Do exercises for deep tissue or massage to improve blood flow. Such a method will help the destruction of scar tissue, contributing to recovery, if no more than 6 weeks have elapsed since the injury. At the moment, the use of physiotherapy or professional sports massage is an excellent choice.

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