This month’s blog is dedicated to your elbows. They’re very useful when they work but very annoying when they don’t. Typically elbow pain is not necessarily related to a specific injury, although of course this does happen. More commonly there is an insidious onset of pain that gradually creeps up on you.
Either way if the muscles that attach onto your elbow are tight along with your wrist and shoulder joints, these hidden gremlins can contribute to your elbow’s misdemeanours. Even if you believe your elbows to be in fine fettle, run through the high jinks on offer to see if your fettle is as fine as you think it is.
I realise it’s cheesy but in my defence, my family made me do it when I asked for ideas for an elbow image…Mind you, it’s a terrific stretch for your upper back, neck, shoulders and for your elbows as you straighten your arms outwards from this starting position.
Have a think
In general terms have a think about how often you use your arms to push or pull with heavy or awkward tasks compared to how much they are involved in light activities throughout the day.
If you are busy but doing light, non resistive activities (computer, driving, cooking,) and then you suddenly require a strong hard grip to lift or push or pull or carry heavy things even for a short period of time, this sudden change in muscle activity is very stressful to the muscles and joints. It’s like walking along steadily and suddenly breaking into a sprint without gradually building up the pace.
In contrast if you are doing repeatedly heavy pushing or pulling or lifting or carrying for any length of time, without allowing your arms time to recover or stretch out tension, this is comparable to doing an all out sprint without taking long enough moments to walk for a bit.
Strong pain free elbows
Elbow pain often follows a history of “silent strain” (silent because you are not necessarily conscious of it) due to muscle weakness and tightness in the arm. A restriction in movement at your wrist and shoulder will force your elbow to work harder than it is designed to.
In addition, if your ribs are stiff and your ability to rotate from your waist when sitting is restricted, the way in which your whole arm moves when you turn to reach for something or turn to reverse your car for example, will be distorted.
Managing an acute pain
Acute injuries arising as a direct result of a particular event (prolonged gripping, heavy lifting etc) is best managed in the first instance by applying ice over the affected area (frozen peas over a dry tea towel to avoid ice burns to the skin for 5-10 minutes on the affected area).
As far as is possible avoid the aggravating movements for a time. Try the stretches below to see if they ease the pain.
Raise arm one and place your hand behind your head as far as you can. Take your other arm and gently move arm one further back. Feel the stretch above your elbow of arm one.
Stretch both arms.
Move your bottom away from the front of the seat. Hold the sides of the seat. Slowly lower your bottom by bending your elbows.
Feel the work in the back of your arms above your elbows.
Hide your thumb in the palm of your hand
Bend your wrist so your fingers move closer to the underside of your wrist keeping your arm straight and still. Feel the stretch on the top of your forearm.
Repeat on both arms.
I’m here to help
As always, if you have any questions regarding any of the above or regarding some other health issue, please feel free to contact me either by email or through the contact form on my website. Alternatively give me a call. It’s always good to talk!