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Old 01-29-2008, 04:55 AM   #1
Victor Putz
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Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

Minor interest...

I started getting some pain in my elbow doing pullups/hanging leg raises. Alarmed by horror stories of six-month breaks caused by tennis/golfer's elbow, I'm taking it easy, but because I'm not really doing huge amounts of pullups/grip work, I thought "hmm, that's weird" and did some "diagnosis pulls".

So here's the thing--it's an attachment-point pain on the forearm side of the elbow; if I hold my arm in "curl position", it's on the inside of the forearm about a half-inch toward my hand from the "knob" on the inside of the elbow.

But what's confusing me is that it is related not to elbow stress but to grip stress--and only on the "little two" fingers (ring and pinky) of my hand! I can do light grip/pull work (ring rows) with no effects. I can even "grip something tightly" without feeling it, and I did a pullup just using my index/middle fingers of that hand and it seemed fine; I could probably do pullups with straps without feeling it (but I haven't checked this). But I can't hang from a grip and pull.

Seemed kinda weird (and I really haven't been overstressing on the pullups--I'm not good enough at them).

Anyway, I'm still taking it easy on those until it's better, but I was wondering if this is the same sort of injury as golf/tennis elbow or if it's slightly different (and about how long I should take off of pullups).
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Old 01-29-2008, 09:31 AM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

4 of the 6 elbow flexors connect there. So yes, any grip or elbow stress is gonna put a lot of stress right on the connection of tendons to the medial epicondyle.

Stretch it out. Do light exercise (ice afterwards). Massage helps SIGNIFICANTLY (for me at least). Possibly supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, fish oil... yeah.

Rest is the primary thing though.
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Old 01-31-2008, 05:08 AM   #3
Aaron Shaffer
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

I've been trying to understand my right elbow pain. This thread was helpful.

When I pull up a kettlebell with one finger:
index finger: no pain
middle finger: no pain
ring finger: lots of pain
tiny finger: no pain

So it seems it's not actually an elbow problem but a grip problem, perhaps similar to yours. I had no idea.
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:16 AM   #4
Bill Ennis
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

Hi Everyone;
I have had the same problem of medial epicondylitis of my right elbow from pullups. Steven was helpful in tips to fix it .
I'm an anesthesiologist and have spoken to some ortho collegues who work on the elbow alot(hand surgeons ).
Here's what I have done (and as I speak I can palpate my elbow with no tenderness) :
1. Rest- it's important to stop stressing the flexor tendons that insert on the medial epicondyle (the bump on the inside of the elbow ). I eliminated pullups for about 2 weeks and the slowly reintroduced them , 1-2 at a time.
2. Bar Thickness- if you can increase the thickness of the bar you are gripping that may help. With smaller bars , your grip intensity needs to be greater with greater stress on those flexor tendons.
3. Ring Pullups- I've been doing these with Nyla DogBone rings and haven't felt the pain return. In talking with the elbow surgeons they state that having the rings be able to rotate in space on the straps , takes alot of torque off the medial epicondyle and hence less stress/ tears/pain.
4. Grip Position-My pain started when I did pullups with my palms facing me. When I changed to palms facing away , the pain decreased somewhat.
5. Other Things- Non Steroidal Anti inflamatories ( motrin/naprosyn) I didn't really notice helping much. Same for the band thing you put on your forearm.
Maybe they were helping but I really didn't notice.
So what do I think works best ?:
Rest ,Ring Pullups and thicker bars.
So far this has worked for me- it's been since the end of the summer and I think the pain is gone for good. I'm still a little cautious but so far , so good.
I hope this helps.
Bill
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Old 01-31-2008, 10:15 AM   #5
Victor Putz
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

Sounds good. I've been proceeding with ring rows instead of pullups (rings are hanging off a doorway pullup bar, so no ring pullups I'm afraid; we haven't the space in this rental and are moving in a couple of years). I also substituted "support leg raises" (floor to L-sit to floor with rings at hips) instead of hanging leg raises from the bar, which is a different motion but will hopefully get me moving toward a proper L-sit.

Between those two I don't feel any pain, but my already weak pullup performance isn't likely to improve. My pullup bar (the good ol' as-seen-on-TV Door Gym) does have a couple of handles for "palms facing each other" which might be a bit less stressful...? Or maybe I'll try towel pullups after a week or so.
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Old 01-31-2008, 02:24 PM   #6
Aaron Shaffer
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

Bill, thank you for a very helpful post! This is a frustrating injury but I'm determined to work through it. When it's better I'm going to be more motivated to increase my pull-up #s -- slowly.

Did cleans, deadlifts, or bench bother you? I'm going to watch my grip more closely tonight and see how things go.
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Old 01-31-2008, 02:45 PM   #7
Steven Low
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Shaffer View Post
I've been trying to understand my right elbow pain. This thread was helpful.

When I pull up a kettlebell with one finger:
index finger: no pain
middle finger: no pain
ring finger: lots of pain
tiny finger: no pain

So it seems it's not actually an elbow problem but a grip problem, perhaps similar to yours. I had no idea.
You might have strained or done something to your flexor digitorum profundus or superficialis. Kinda sucks... Massage the forearm and see if that helps...
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Old 01-31-2008, 03:12 PM   #8
Aaron Shaffer
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

When you say massage the forearm I just use my left hand thumb to do it. Is there a better tool for this? It's kinda awkard to do it myself, I'm thinking something like a mini foam roller would make it easier if it's appropriate.
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Old 01-31-2008, 04:13 PM   #9
Bill Ennis
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

Hi Aaron;
I never noticed any heavy lifts aggravating my elbow. But I did change from a thin NordicTrac style chin up bar to a tree branch outside my house to get a thicker bar and I would just hook my hands over it so as not to grip .
As Steven suggests , massage may also help. I would just use my thumb and work the area in various directions trying maybe to increase blood flow into the area or help to milk some bad inflamatory mediators out . That may not be the mechanism by which it worked but it seemed to help.
Also , during my time off pullups , I would occasionally do one or two , very gently , just to keep things moving in the joint. It was very low stress but seemed to help and not aggravate things.
It's frustrating but with time and patience it should get better.
Bill
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:20 PM   #10
Aaron Shaffer
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Re: Elbow... "it only hurts when I grip" (with lower two fingers)

It hurts on the cleans that I did tonight 175lb. If I use a narrower grip it isn't as bad. Overhead press is no pain at all, so I'll work that and avoid pull-ups. Bench hurts but only if I wobble and grip hard. A good bench press straight up and down is pain free.

Only two more clean workouts and then its solid 4 weeks rest for this with lots of massage.
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