Elbow tendonitis is very common among bodybuilders. Naive beginner lifters often overestimate their actual work capacity and overtrain. Since the tendons around the elbow joint participate in every gripping motion, they are easy to overwork.
Elbow tendonitis progresses relatively slowly. The symptoms increase with time, and at one point, even opening a can of tuna to get your protein needs becomes painful.
So, how do you fix that?
In most cases, the doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory drugs, icing, and rest. While this method achieves some relief, as soon as the person goes back to the aggravating activity, the injury flares up. This cycle could eventually cause chronic elbow tendonitis.
If you are suffering from chronic elbow tendonitis, I strongly advise you to check the work of Dr. Sarno. He is famous for his ideas on chronic back pain, but the same principles are relevant even for elbow overuse injuries.
In a nutshell, his idea is that very often chronic pain is caused by emotional problems rather than physical anomalies. According to him, the body uses physical pain to distract the brain from the emotional burden it has to face.
For example, if you are sad because you are stuck at a dead end job where you are exploited, the brain may generate pain to distract you from those thoughts. Dr.Sarno claims that many of his patients have reported improvements after accepting that there is nothing wrong with them and working through the pain. This may sound crazy, but it works.
This phenomenon is known as Tension myositis syndrome (TMS). The TMS problem has been described in greater details here.
Follow The Conventional Treatment First
If you are a bodybuilder recently diagnosed with elbow tendonitis, you should follow the conventional treatment for a few weeks. The most important part is to rest. That’s what truly makes the injury heal.
While you are resting, you can still train other body parts. The fact that you have elbow tendonitis does not mean that you need bed rest. You can still work your legs, abs, neck…etc. Use the downtime to reevaluate your program. Read a book.
Tendonitis can also be caused by continuously placing a joint in a compromised position during certain exercises. You may have to change your technique or avoid a movement altogether.
Another valuable step would be to re-evaluate your workload. Is the training volume too high?
Those steps alone may be able to fix your elbow tendonitis. However, as already said, many report chronic issues. This is when Dr. Sarno’s method should be applied. Many patients have been liberated from chronic pain thanks to it.
Note: There are many “instant” elbow tendonitis cures on the market, usually in the form of gels. While some of them provide a relief, the effect does not last long. They are treating the symptoms and not the cause. Also, many of the cures are actually fake powders that do nothing.