A Helpful Guide To Fix Elbow Pain From Pull-Ups (Pull Ups Elbow Pain)

This article covers frequently asked questions about elbow pain from pull-ups, and how to fix pull ups elbow pain (golfer's elbow and tennis elbow) in 5 minutes or less.

For a video-based guide to cure elbow pain fast, consider the TitaniumPhysique program. A solution created for athletes, by athletes. Take the elbow pain quiz to start now.

nurudeen performing pull ups in gym without elbow pain

If you experience elbow pain during pull ups or elbow after pull ups, you've come to the right place.

For years I struggled with elbow pain during: chin-ups, pull-ups, weighted pull-ups, and v-bar pull-ups. I fixed my elbow pain, and I will show you how to do the same.

This article covers frequently asked questions about elbow pain during pull ups, and how to fix it in 5 minutes or less.

For a detailed article on the root causes of elbow pain from working out, the different types of elbow tendonitis (tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, triceps tendonitis), chronic vs. acute elbow pain, and the fastest way to permanently cure elbow pain, check out this article: elbow pain lifting weights

Nurudeen Tijani Posing Physique Abs and Chest
Written by: Nurudeen Tijani
Member of American Chronic Pain Association, Personal Trainer, Bodybuilder, Physique Athlete, Yoga Instructor, Wellness Coach

A video of Nurudeen performing variations of pull-ups and chin-ups at the gym (2021): wide-grip rear pull-ups, wide-grip pull-ups, close-grip chin ups. "Pull" exercises such as pull-ups and chin-ups can aggravate golfer's elbow (pain on the inside part of the elbow) and tennis elbow (pain on the outside part of the elbow).

Pull Ups Elbow Pain (Frequently Asked Questions)


Why does my elbow hurt during pull-ups?

Pull-ups elbow pain can occur for several reasons, including: restricted triceps muscles or forearm muscles, inadequate warm-up of the triceps muscles and forearm muscles before exercisinglifting a weight too heavy (i.e. weighted pull-ups), bad pull-ups form or technique, sudden increase in training volume (i.e. performing an excessive amount of pull-ups sets). Any or a combinations of these factors can cause your elbow to hurt during pull-ups or chin ups.

Why does my elbow hurt after doing pull ups?

"Pull" exercises such as pull-ups or chin-ups can trigger or aggravates elbow pain because the exercise involve the elbow tendons and elbow joint. The repetitive movement during pull-ups can strain and inflame the elbow tendons and elbow joint. When the elbow tendons become inflamed, it causes acute elbow pain after the workout - this is what causes your elbow to hurt after doing pull-ups.

Acute elbow pain is an inflammatory pain experienced during or immediately after working out. In the case of a pull-ups workout, it includes:

  • Burning pain in the elbow joint after pull-ups or chin-ups
  • A sensation of heat, swelling, or redness around elbow joint after pull-ups
  • Sore elbow after pull-ups 
  • Elbow pain when bending and straightening arm after pull-ups or chin-ups

Why am I experiencing inner elbow pain while doing pull-ups?

If you experience inner elbow pain while doing pull-ups, the cause is usually a combination of restricted triceps muscle and forearm muscles (tight and shortened), and inflamed elbow tendons.

The forearm muscles and triceps muscle contract when you do exercises involving your arms, such as pull-ups. When the forearm muscles and triceps muscle contract during exercise, they pull and put pressure on the elbow tendons.

During pull-ups, the forearm flexor muscles can overstretch and inflame the tendon on the inside part of the elbow. Inner elbow pain (also known as golfer's elbow or medial epicondylitis) can be chronic (develop over time) or acute (occur suddenly from overloading the elbow).

Acute pain is an inflammatory pain experienced during or immediately after an exercise. In this case, experiencing inner elbow pain while doing pull-ups is a sign of acute elbow pain.

Nurudeen performing wide grip pull-ups in gym (2022)

Nurudeen performing wide-grip pull-ups during back workout at gym (2022). Wide-grip pull-ups is a variation of the pull-ups exercise. Wide-grip pull-ups primarily target the upper lats muscle and secondarily the deltoids, biceps and triceps. Wide grip pull-ups can aggravate tennis elbow (pain on the outside part of the elbow) and triceps tendonitis (pain at the back of elbow).

The Complete Elbow Pain Solution For Athletes

For a video-based guide to cure elbow pain fast, consider the TitaniumPhysique program. A solution created for athletes, by athletes. Take the quiz to start now.

What causes pain in the elbow during pull-ups?

The forearm muscles and triceps muscle contract when you do exercises involving your arms (such as pull-ups). Over time as you exercise, the forearm extensor muscles, forearm flexor muscles, and triceps muscle become tighter and shorter. 

Shortened forearm muscles and triceps muscle pull and put tension on the elbow tendons and decrease the elasticity of the elbow tendon. As a result, the elbow tendons get overloaded and inflamed, and cause elbow pain during pull-ups.

The pain usually occurs inside of the elbow (golfer's elbow), outside the elbow (tennis elbow), or at the back of the elbow (triceps tendonitis). The elbow tendons that cause elbow pain during pull-ups include the extensor elbow tendon (outside elbow tendon), medial elbow tendon (inside elbow tendon), and triceps brachii tendon (posterior elbow tendon).

Is pull-ups bad for elbows?

When performed properly with good technique, pull-ups are not bad for the elbows. However, performing pull-ups without first warming up the triceps muscle and forearm muscles, lifting a weight too heavy (e.g. weighted pull-ups), or a sudden increase in training volume (i.e. performing an excessive amount of pull-up sets) can overload the elbow tendons and triceps tendon, and cause elbow tendonitis and elbow pain.

Can pull-ups cause elbow pain?

When performed properly with good technique, pull-ups does not cause elbow pain. However, pull-ups can trigger or aggravate elbow tendonitis and elbow pain.

"Pull" exercises such as pull-ups involve the forearm muscles, triceps muscle, elbow tendons, and elbow joint. During pull-ups, the forearm muscles can get overloaded. When the forearm muscles become overloaded, it can overstretch and inflame the elbow tendons and causes acute elbow pain (sharp pain) or aggravates chronic elbow pain (dull pain).

Nurudeen performing close grip chin-ups in gym (2022)

Nurudeen performing close-grip chin-ups during back workout at gym (2022). The close-grip chinup is a variation of the chin-up exercise. Close-grip chinup primarily target the lower lats muscle and secondarily the deltoids and triceps. Close-grip chins can aggravate golfer's elbow (pain on inside part of elbow) and triceps tendonitis (pain at the back of elbow).

The Complete Elbow Pain Solution For Athletes

For a video-based guide to cure elbow pain fast, consider the TitaniumPhysique program. A solution created for athletes, by athletes. Take the quiz to start now.

Can pull-ups damage elbows?

When performed properly with good technique, pull-ups does not damage elbows. However, for a person experiencing elbow tendonitis, pull-ups can trigger acute elbow pain or aggravate chronic elbow pain, leading to elbow tendinosis.

Tendinosis is the deterioration of tendon collagen due to repetitive stress and chronic injury. Tendinosis results in the loss of strength in the tendon and often lead to tendon tear or rupture. So doing pull-ups with elbow tendonitis (i.e. inflammatory elbow pain) can lead to elbow tendinosis (i.e. degeneration of elbow tendon) and damage the elbows.

Can you hurt your elbow doing pull ups?

When performed properly with good technique, pull-ups is a safe exercise and will not cause injury to the elbow. However any or a combinations of the following factors can cause you to hurt your elbow during pull-ups:

  • Inadequate warm-up of the elbow tendons and triceps tendon before pull-ups
  • Inadequate stretching of the triceps muscle and forearm muscle before pullups
  • Lifting a weight too heavy (e.g. weighted pull-ups)
  • Bad pull-ups form or technique. To learn proper pull-ups technique, check out this pull-ups guide (by the American Council on Exercise).
  • Sudden increase in training volume (i.e. performing an excessive amount of pull-up sets)
  • Doing pull-ups while experiencing ongoing mild-to-severe elbow tendonitis
Nurudeen performing v-bar pull-ups in gym (2022)

Nurudeen performing V-bar pull-ups during back workout at gym (2022). The V-bar pull-up is a variation of the pull-up exercise. V-bar pull-ups primarily target the lower lats muscle and secondarily the deltoids and biceps. V-bar pull-ups can aggravate golfer's elbow (pain on the inside part of the elbow) and tennis elbow (pain on the outside part of the elbow).

The Complete Elbow Pain Solution For Athletes

For a video-based guide to cure elbow pain fast, consider the TitaniumPhysique program. A solution created for athletes, by athletes. Take the quiz to start now.

Is close grip chin-ups bad for elbows?

When performed properly with good technique, close grip chin-ups is not bad for the elbow and does not cause elbow problems. However, close-grip chins-ups can trigger or aggravate elbow tendonitis and elbow pain.

The close-grip chin-ups primarily targets the latissimus dorsi (lats), shoulder and arm. The exercise involve the forearm muscles, triceps muscle, triceps tendon, and elbow tendons.

During close-grip chins-ups, the forearm muscles can get overloaded. When the forearm muscles become overloaded, it can overstretch and inflame the elbow tendons and triceps tendon, and causes acute elbow pain or aggravates chronic elbow pain. Close-grip chin-ups can aggravate golfer's elbow (inner elbow pain) and triceps tendonitis (posterior elbow pain).

Can I still do pull-ups with elbow pain?

It depends on the severity of the elbow pain. If the elbow tendonitis causes "low to mild" pain, most people can use elbow sleeves, elbow wraps, elbow straps, or other short-term pain relief remedies to reduce elbow pain during pull-ups.

If the elbow tendonitis is chronic and severe, or causes sharp pain in the elbow during pull-ups, it's best to treat the root cause of the pain before resuming exercising.

For additional FAQs about lifting weights and working out with elbow pain, check out this article.

Do elbow sleeves help with elbow pain during pull-ups?

Elbow sleeves (including elbow straps, elbow braces, elbow wraps) are a popular option to manage elbow pain during exercise. Elbow sleeves compress the elbow tendon and elbow joint. As a result, it temporarily reduces elbow discomfort when exercises, e.g. during pull-ups or chin-ups.

Unfortunately, elbow sleeves do not cure the root cause of elbow tendonitis pain. Left untreated, elbow tendonitis pain can lead to elbow tendinosis and cause irreversible elbow tendon degeneration.

A athletic man doing weighted pull-ups in the gym

Man doing wide-grip weighted pull-ups at gym. The weighted pull-up is a variation of the pull-up exercise. Wide-grip weighted pull-ups primarily target the latissimus dorsi (upper lats muscle) and secondarily the deltoids and triceps. Due to the added weights used during weighted pull-ups, it can aggravate golfer's elbow (inner elbow pain), tennis elbow (outer elbow pain) and triceps tendonitis (posterior elbow pain).

The Complete Elbow Pain Solution For Athletes

For a video-based guide to cure elbow pain fast, consider the TitaniumPhysique program. A solution created for athletes, by athletes. Take the quiz to start now.

How do I stop my elbows from hurting when I do pull-ups?

To stop your elbow from hurting when doing pull-ups, do this:

  1. Use short-term pain remedies that provide temporary relief to elbow pain.
  2. Fix the root cause of elbow pain to cure and counteract it from coming back.

Short-term pain relief remedies for pull-ups elbow pain include: joint supplements and vitamins, anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAIDs), physical therapy, stretching, "Ice and Rest therapy", elbow braces, elbow straps, elbow sleeves, kinesiology tape, and topical anti-inflammatory solutions (oils and creams).

For a detailed explainer on conventional remedies to fix elbow pain, check out this article.

To cure elbow pain and stop it from interfering with your workouts, you can fix the root cause of elbow pain. The ROOT causes of elbow pain during exercise are (1) chronic inflammation, (2) magnesium deficiency, and (3) muscle restriction.

For a detailed article (and explainer video) on the root causes of elbow pain and how to cure it, check out this article.

How to fix elbow pain from pull ups? (Fix Elbow Pain In 5 Minutes or Less)

To fix elbow pain fast (in 5 minutes or less), follow these steps:

  1. Use a peanut ball to massage the forearm extensor muscles, forearm flexor muscles, and triceps brachii muscle and tendon.
  2. Roll out (massage) the muscles with the peanut ball for 3-5 minutes. Stretch the forearm muscles and triceps muscles after the massage. 
  3. Perform the massage ball routine once a day. Rest the muscles the following day. Then repeat the routine again.
  4. On day when you're not using the massage ball, you can apply an ice pack to the elbow (if you experience burning pain). For faster results, perform the massage ball exercise 2x a day. Once in the morning and once at night.

For a detailed article (and explainer video) on how to fix chronic elbow paincheck out this article.

For an easy-to-follow video-based guide to cure pull-up related injuries (elbow pain, shoulder pain, forearm pain, wrist pain), consider the new TitaniumPhysique program.

How to avoid elbow pain when doing pull ups?

To avoid elbow pain when doing pull ups, follow these steps:

  1. Stretch the triceps muscle and forearm muscle before doing pull-ups (for example, forearm flexor stretch).
  2. Start your pull-ups workout by warm-up of the elbow tendon and triceps tendon. For example, start your workout with resistance band pull-aparts exercise.
  3. If performing weighted pull-ups, incrementally add weights to avoid sudden overload of the triceps tendon and elbow tendons.
  4. Learn and always good pull-ups exercise technique. 
  5. Incrementally increase training volume (i.e. be mindful about doing an excessive amount of pull-up sets).
  6. Supplement with magnesium to heal and decalcify the elbow tendons. Magnesium also relax muscles to reduce pain.
  7. Use a peanut ball to massage the forearm extensor muscles, forearm flexor muscles, and triceps brachii muscle and tendon. Roll out (massage) the muscles with the peanut ball for 3-5 minutes. Stretch the forearm muscles and triceps muscles after the massage. Perform the massage ball routine once a day. Rest the muscles the following day. Then repeat the routine again.

            For a detailed article (and explainer video) on how to avoid elbow pain (using a simple 3-Step Formula), check out this article.

            For an easy-to-follow video-based guide to avoid pull-up related injuries (elbow pain, shoulder pain, forearm pain, wrist pain), consider the new TitaniumPhysique program.

            How to treat chronic elbow tendonitis pain

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            Nurudeen Tijani, Author & Founder at TitaniumPhysique
            Written by: Nurudeen Tijani

            Nurudeen (aka T.J) has a passion for helping people build the body they desire through weight training. He is a physique and fitness trainer, nutritionist, yoga instructor, vegan natural bodybuilder, National Physique Committee (NPC) competitor, and founder at TitaniumPhysique. Nurudeen is a member of the International Association Study of Pain (IASP) and the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA).

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