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

This article covers frequently asked questions about elbow pain from push-ups, and how to fix push ups elbow pain (triceps tendonitis and tennis elbow) in only 5 minutes.

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 from TitaniumPhysique performing standard push-ups at gym

If you experience elbow pain during push-ups or elbow after push-ups, you've come to the right place. For years I struggled with elbow pain during my push-ups workout (diamond push-up, pike push-up, one-arm push-up, wide-arm pushups, archer push-up, and military-push 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 push-ups. For a detailed article on the root causes of elbow pain from working out, the 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: elbow pain from lifting weights

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

Push Ups Elbow Pain (Frequently Asked Questions)


1. Why does my elbow hurt during push-ups?

Push 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 push-ups), bad pushups form or technique, sudden increase in training volume (i.e. performing an excessive amount of push-ups sets). Any or a combinations of these factors can cause your elbow to hurt during push-ups.

2. Why does my elbow hurt after doing pushups?

"Push" exercises such as push-ups can trigger or aggravates elbow pain because the exercise involve the elbow tendons and elbow joint. The repetitive movement during push-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 pushups.

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

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

3. Why am I experiencing outer elbow pain while doing pushups?

If you experience outer elbow pain while doing pushups, 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 push-ups. When the forearm muscles and triceps muscle contract during exercise, they pull and put pressure on the elbow tendons. 

During push-ups, the forearm extensor muscles can overstretch and inflame the tendon on the outer part of the elbow. Outer elbow pain (also known as tennis elbow or lateral 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 outer elbow pain while doing pushups is a sign of acute elbow pain.

A video of Nurudeen performing variations of push-ups and post-workout stretches (2020): standard push-ups, diamond push-ups, and wide-arm push-ups. "Push" exercises such as push-ups can aggravate tennis elbow (pain on outside 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.

4. What causes pain in the elbow during push-ups?

The forearm muscles and triceps muscle contract when you do exercises involving your arms (such as push-ups). Over time as you exercise, the forearm muscles (Extensor Carpi and Radialis Brevis "ECRB") 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, strain and inflamed, and cause elbow pain during pushups.

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 push-ups include the extensor elbow tendon (outside elbow tendon), medial elbow tendon (inside elbow tendon), and triceps brachii tendon (posterior elbow tendon).

5. Is push-ups bad for elbows?

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

6. Can push-ups cause elbow pain?

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

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

Nurudeen from TitaniumPhysique performing diamond push ups at gym

Nurudeen performing diamond push-ups during triceps workout at gym (2020). Diamond push-ups is a variation of the standard push-ups exercise. Diamond push-ups effectively target the triceps and pectoral muscles. Diamond push-ups 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.

7. Can push-ups damage elbows?

When performed properly with good technique, push-ups does not damage elbows. However, for a person experiencing elbow tendonitis, push-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 push-ups with elbow tendonitis (i.e. inflammatory elbow pain) can lead to elbow tendinosis (i.e. degeneration of elbow tendon) and damage the elbows.

8. Can you hurt your elbow doing push ups?

When performed properly with good technique, push-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 push-ups:

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

9. Are pushups good for tennis elbow?

Pushups can be a good exercise to rehab tennis elbow. Push-ups help strengthen the elbow tendons, triceps tendon, forearm muscles, triceps muscle, and elbow joint. The push-ups exercise can be modified to accommodate an individual's ability. Here are a three push-ups variation to rehab tennis elbow:

  • Wall Push-ups
  • Kneeling Push-ups
  • Resistance Band push-ups
  • Incline Push-ups
  • Stability Ball Push-ups
Nurudeen performing push-ups during a vinyasa yoga sequence

Nurudeen performing push-ups during yoga vinyasa (2019). The vinyasa is a sequence of yoga movements: upward dog, push-ups, and downward dog. This sequence of movements puts pressure on the elbow tendons and causes elbow pain. Most people experience triceps tendonitis (posterior elbow pain) during the vinyasa sequence.

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.

Man performing push-ups with a resistance band

Man performing push-ups with resistance band. Resistance band push-ups is a modification of the standard push-ups exercise. Resistance band push-ups can strengthen and build the pectoral muscles. Additionally, it's an effective exercise to rehab and strengthen the elbow joint and shoulder. The resistance band modification increase the difficulty of the push-ups exercise, which can be useful during elbow pain treatment therapy.

10. Are diamond push-ups bad for elbows?

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

The diamond push-ups primarily targets the pectorals (chest) and triceps. The exercise involve the forearm muscles, triceps muscle, triceps tendon, elbow tendons, and elbow joint.

During diamond push-ups, the triceps muscles can get overloaded. When the triceps muscles become overloaded, it irritates and inflames the triceps tendon and causes acute elbow pain or aggravates chronic elbow painDiamond push-ups can aggravate golfer's elbow (pain on inside part of elbow) and triceps tendonitis (pain at the back of elbow).

11. Can I still do push-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 push-ups. If the elbow tendonitis is chronic and severe, or causes sharp pain in the elbow during push-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.

12. Do elbow sleeves help with elbow pain during push-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 push-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.

Nurudeen from TitaniumPhysique performing wide-arm push ups at gym

Nurudeen performing wide-arm push-ups during a chest workout at gym (2020). Wide-arm push-ups is a variation of the standard push-ups exercise. Wide-arm push-ups isolate the triceps muscle while targeting the pectoral muscle. As a result, it's an effective exercise to strengthen the pectorals and build a bigger chest. Wide-arm push-ups can aggravate golfer's elbow, tennis elbow, and triceps tendonitis, and cause push ups 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.

13. How to fix elbow pain from push-ups?

To fix elbow pain from push-ups, do this:

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

Short-term pain relief remedies for push up 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 explanation, visit this article to learn more about conventional remedies to fix elbow pain.

To cure elbow pain and prevent 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 explanation, visit this article to learn more about the root causes of elbow pain.

14. How to stop elbow pain when doing push ups? (5-Minute Quick Fix)

To stop and relieve elbow pain fast (in 5 minutes), follow these steps:

  1. Use a peanut ball to massage: forearm extensor muscles, forearm flexor muscles, and the triceps 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 to 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 explanation, visit this article to learn more about how to relieve acute (sudden) elbow pain.

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

15. How to avoid elbow pain when doing push ups?

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

  1. Stretch the triceps muscle and forearm muscle before doing push-ups (e.g. overhead triceps stretch, forearm stretch).
  2. Start your push-ups workout by warming-up the elbow joint and triceps tendon (e.g. wall push-ups).
  3. If performing weighted push-ups, incrementally add weights to avoid sudden overload of the triceps tendon and elbow tendons.
  4. Learn and always good push-ups exercise technique. This is especially important if performing a new or advanced push-ups variation (e.g. archer push-ups, pike push-ups, dive bomber push-ups). 
  5. Incrementally increase training volume (i.e. be mindful about doing an excessive amount of push-ups sets, or performing push-ups with other elbow intensive exercises).
  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 explanation, visit this article to learn how to avoid elbow pain using a simple 3-Step Formula.

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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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