Supracondylar fracture

Why elbow pain occurs after bench presses?

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The elbow pain that occurs after a bench press might be due to incorrect form, lifting heavy weights and excessive or constant use. The bench press is an exercise that helps strengthen the muscles in the chest, shoulders and arms.

There are self-care measures that can be used to manage minor aches but if the elbow pain does not subside after 3 days or accompanied by redness and swelling, it is best to seek medical care.


The triceps muscle is comprised of 3 muscles on the upper rear part of the arm. These muscles are significantly strained while performing a bench press. The soft tissue of the tendon connecting the triceps muscle to the back part of the elbow bone can deteriorate and become swollen.

In mild cases, the elbow pain can be felt as a stiff, dull ache that becomes worse after activity. In severe cases, the pain can worsen during activity and there is evident swelling at the rear part of the elbow. Additionally, there is also weakness in the elbow while performing a bench press.

Elbow pain
Strains can occur if the muscles are stretched and tears that can be accompanied by bruising and swelling.


Epicondylitis involves inflammation of the tendons that link the elbow to the muscles of the forearm. When it comes to golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis, it is usually felt on the inner part of the elbow. As for tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, it is felt on the exterior elbow.

Take note that the tendons involved are responsible for holding as well as flexing or pronation of the wrist. It is vital to strengthen these muscles to prevent epicondylitis from developing while performing bench presses.

What are the other causes?

The inflammation and deterioration of other parts of the joint can also trigger elbow pain. There are various issues that affect the elbow such as osteoarthritis, bursitis and strain.

  • Bursitis involves inflammation of the bursa which is a sac filled with fluid under the skin.
  • Osteoarthritis involves degeneration of the bones.
  • Strains can occur if the muscles are stretched and tears that can be accompanied by bruising and swelling.

Management of elbow pain

For cases that involve minor pain, it is vital to rest the affected elbow for at least 2-3 days. If the pain is severe or accompanied by swelling, utilize the RICE method. The affected elbow must be rested for at least 2 days along with the application of an ice pack for 20 minutes every session every hour on the first day.

Provide compression using a bandage or simply wrap a towel around it. Always keep the elbow raised higher than the level of the heart. Wait for 3 weeks before the individual performs bench presses. In case the pain is intense along with reddening of the joint or pain does not subside after 3 days, seek medical care.


Correct technique and staying within the limits of the body can prevent injuries. The jerking movements or excessive weight can impair the tendons and ligaments of the elbow joint over time.

Always have a spotter available to assist while lifting in case of fatigue as well as to avoid injury. It is also advisable for the individual to consult with a personal trainer for detailed instructions that are specifically suited for his/her condition.

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