Pull Ups with Tennis Elbow

Pull Ups Aggravate Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow pain is very easily aggravated by Pull Ups.
There are a few reasons:

  • gripping bar too tightly
  • overhand grip
  • wide grip

I will explain each of these

Gripping Too Tightly

Tennis Elbow or Lateral Epicondylitis is caused by over-use of the muscles that position the wrist to allow a strong grip, see Tennis Elbow – Get to Grips! if you have not already read it.
The harder you grip the greater the stress on the wrist extensor muscles – the more you aggravate the problem!


Overhand Grip

With an overhand grip there is a tendency to further extend the wrist to move your chin away from the bar. Also in this position the Brachioradialis muscle is used to help bend the elbow. This muscle has an attachment very close the Tennis Elbow muscles and they are recruited to help flex the elbow – remember that they cross the elbow joint see Essential Anatomy of Forearm Muscles

Wide Grip

A wide grip pulls the wrist into radial deviation as you perform your pull up. The main muscles that do this are Extensor Carpi Radialis Longus and Brevis. The Brevis muscle is the main culprit in causing most Tennis Elbow pain! So you can see why it is not too smart to work it excessively if you want your elbow pain to settle.

How Not to Aggravate Your Tennis Elbow Pain

Hook Grip

Use a ‘hook grip’ on the bar. This involves using the ends of your fingers to grasp the bar rather than making a fist around the bar and squeezing.
This relaxes the wrist joint and take the stress of the wrist extensors – relieving the aggravation.

Narrower Grip

Moving the hands in from the wide position reduces the pull of the Flexor Carpi Radialis muscles again easing the stress.

Underhand Grip

Using an underhand technique makes it possible to perform some pull ups when your Tennis Elbow is severe. I know that it works your Lats differently and that you use your Biceps more but it’s better than doing nothing or aggravating your elbow to the extent that you can’t do other weights!
Even better use an underhand grip with a ‘hook grip’

Good Technique

Make sure that the prime movers of the exercise are your back muscles and not your arms!!

The tips should allow you to train around Tennis Elbow – even better take my “Elbow and Forearm Assessment Tool” and cure your elbow!

Now in Summary Click & Watch the Video Below

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Ian Constable (73 Posts)