Exercising the Elbow Part 1
After researching what’s wrong with my elbow, I need to take preventative measures to keep it healthy. So, I looked at what exercises I can do and here’s what I’ve come across.
In this article, I’m going to cover mobility. As my elbow heals, I need to make sure I can keep it mobile so that I can climb. I’ve come across these trainings created by Dr. Jared Vagy, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and professor at the University of Southern California. I’ve started doing them, and I think they’ve been helping in my recovery.
Making the Right Moves
Constant activation of the muscles in the back of your forearm (extensors) while climbing can lead to increased tension. The increased pressure in the extensor muscles can strain their attachment to the outside of your elbow. By gently and progressively stretching the extensor muscles, you increase circulation and improve range of motion to aid in the healing process.
Movement 1 – Elbow and Wrist Multi-Position Tendon Glides
- Start with both arms in front of your chest with your hands curled in. Think of a dog with its paws up begging for food or a little T-Rex.
- At the starting position, the tendons in the wrists lengthen, and the elbow tendons shorten.
- Extend your arms out, spreading your fingers like you’re pushing air.
- Make sure you’re fully extending your fingers and wrists back.
- Bring your arms back to the finish position (same as the start), and this reverses the muscles affected.
- Push your arms out in different angles and various speeds to help train the forearm fibers.
- Do 8-10 of these, up to 3x per day.
What this motion does is creates a little opposition to help stretch the extensor muscles out. Climbers do so much pull action on the walls that we forget to work on pushing as well.
Movement 2 – Paint the Wall
- Grab a sock and put your hand in it.
- Find a door or smooth wall and stand one arm’s length in front of it.
- Start with your arm wearing at shoulder height, press your palm into wall/door and slide it down.
- Then reverse the hand position, so that you’re pressing and sliding the back of your hand up the wall/door.
- Make sure you’re pressing your wrist firmly into the wall as you make the motion.
- This performs a dynamic stretch to the muscles and tendons of the front and back of the forearm plus the wrist.
- Do 3 sets of 10 up to 3x per day.
Movement 3 – The Frying Pan
There are other exercises to use for lateral epicondylitis that require using a dumbbell. But what if you don’t have one? Come to find out; a frying pan will work just as well. I would start with a small one first then work your way up in size.
- Lie your arm on and near the edge of a counter-top or table at about a 150-degree angle. Not entirely straight but almost. Make sure the outer bone is the highest.
- Depending on your height, you might have to kneel while doing this movement. If you’re standing up, your shoulder is too high off the surface, and you’re not loading the muscle.
- Start with holding the pan up and have your thumb on the handle.
- Slowly tilt the pan down all the way.
- Pick the pan up with your other hand as you raise it back up to the top position.
- When your arm gets acclimated, use a heavier pan.
- Do for 4-12 weeks, 3 sets of 8 reps, 2x per day morning and night. Do them every other day.
Other exercises that help are planks and pushups. They aren’t the easiest to do, but they do help with opposition.
In the next article, once I obtain functional mobility, I can look at how to get those muscles stronger, so I don’t become weak. Until next time, happy bouldering!