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Episode 121: Elbow Pain Relief Exercises

Video Highlights

- Three exercises to help with elbow pain.
- Mobilizing the radial nerve.
- Specific recommended repetition ranges.

Hi everybody!

This week we’re going to take a quick look at a set of exercises to help you with elbow pain.

It’s Monday morning and we have just finished our 9S certification called “Skill and Style”. It is one of my very favorite courses to teach because we spend four days working on what we call ‘The Motor Primitives” of ten different sports.

It’s a fantastically fun weekend for us. We’ve been outside playing all kinds of different games and working on sport technique. What came up during the weekend, is that a lot of our trainers here have clients or athletes that they work with, that complain of elbow pain.

It may be tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, etcetera. I wanted to shoot a really quick video for you to give you a couple of exercises that you can do if you are having any kind of elbow pain.

We’re going to focus on, first, some joint mobility exercises for the elbow, so follow along.

I’m going to get you in a nice, tall, neutral stance. I want you to take that arm out, that’s bothering you. We’re going to start with the palm down. With the palm down, we’re going to make a really loose fist. We’re going to bring your hand toward your face.

Now, here’s the important point. I want you to grab your bicep and rotate it toward your body, just like this, and take your hand out to the side, come all the way out, lock the elbow fully, and then rotate the palm down. We just call this a basic elbow circle.

The whole idea here is that by pulling the bicep in and your hand going out, we’re mobilizing the ulna, which is one of the forearm bones that helps make up the elbow. Your going to do about 3 or 4 repetitions of that.

Then, you’re going to reverse it. You’re going to start with your hand down, palm down, go to palm up, take your arm out, and then come all the way around. All right. We’re going to go out and all the way around.

Once again, 3-5 repetitions. That’s called a ‘Top Elbow Circle’.

Now, we’re going to do what’s called ‘The Bottom Elbow Circle’. This one is a little bit trickier. I’m going to turn to the side because I want you to see what we’re doing. You’re going to start with this one. You’re going to have your palm facing up, your arms facing out to the side of your body.

From here, you’re going to reach in. You’re going to brush your ribs with your fingertips, let your shoulder roll forward just a little bit, and come all the way out, fully locking the elbow with your palm facing up. Roll all the way around to palm up again and do it again. This is a really cool little exercise because what it does is it mobilizes the other bone that helps make up the elbow, called the radius.

You do 3-5 repetitions of the The Top Elbow Circles in both directions. Then, 3-5 repetitions of The Bottom Elbow Circle.

From there, we’re going to go to one of our neuromechanic drills, what we call “Nerve Flossing’. There’s a really important nerve that deals, particularly with the tennis elbow presentation. Pain right in here, especially if you reach out and grab something. It’s called the ‘Radial Nerve Glide’.

For this one, what you’re going to do is stand nice and tall. You want to let your arm relax. You’re going to begin by taking your thumb and pushing it across your palm. You’re going to flex your wrist like this. All right. You’re going to pull your fingers in toward your leg.

From your shoulder joint, you’re going to roll all the way in. Notice that I have my elbow locked as well. All right? From here, a couple of real important things, I want you to pull the shoulder blade back a little bit and then pull it down slightly.

You’re going to start to feel this nervy sensation coming down through your shoulder. Particularly through this portion of your elbow.

You want to keep this at about a 3 out of 10 intensity level. This may be enough. You may be going, “Hmm. That’s quite a stretch.” If there is not enough stretch yet, you can pull the shoulder blade down more and also take the arm out away from the body. Ha. Right there, that’s a good 3 out of 10 for me.

If you need a little bit more, you can also tilt the head away. Once you feel that little nerve sensation, I want you to just make some gentle circles with your shoulder. Usually 3 to 5 repetitions in each direction.

Stop there. Then, maybe some very light pumping action of your shoulder blade and then release.

Be sure that you don’t overdo this one. All right? If you have pain in the elbow, the nerve is probably already a little bit irritated. This should be gentle. Think of it as flossing your teeth. You don’t need to get in there and grind away. You also don’t want to grind away at this particular nerve.

If you do some light mobilizations of it, maybe 3 to 4 times a day, can be a lifesaver if you have elbow pain.

As always, I like to give you guys a quick summary. Here’s the review part.

You have three exercises.

Exercise number 1, is a Top Elbow Circle. You’re going to start here. Bring the hand toward the face, pull the biceps toward the body, take the hand out to the side, and come all the way around, locking the elbow, then palm up. That’s one version.

Second version. Start palm down, rotate the palm up then go to the outside, and come all the way around. That’s your top elbow circles.

Then, we have the Bottom Elbow Circle.

We’re going to come here and we’re going to start out the side of the body, palm up, elbow is straight. Reach in, touch your lower ribs, go all the way out fully locking the elbow.

With the palm facing up, rotate all the way around again and then repeat. On all of your mobility drills, that’s the Top Elbow Circle in each direction and the Bottom Elbow Circle, 3 to 5 repetitions, probably 3 to 4 times a day would be ideal.

Finally, we have our Nerve Glide. It’s called ‘The Radial Nerve Glide.

You stand tall. You relax the arm, thumb across, flex the wrist, lock your elbow straight, turn your arm in. From here, again we’re keeping a 3 out of 10 intensity, so the next two movements are really important.

Pull the shoulder blade down. Take the arm out just a little bit. That’s probably going to give a stretching sensation through here. Keep it 3 out of 10. Then, you can either do 3 to 5 shoulder circles in each direction or 3 to 5 little pumping actions of your shoulder blade.

Think again, low intensity, small number of repetitions, 3 to 5 of each of those exercises, 3 to 5 times a day. You only have to remember 3 to 5.

If you do that, you should see great results with any kind of elbow issue.

Give these a shot.

If you guys have any questions about them or need any help.

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