Why Does My Elbow Hurt Doing Lateral Raises? (Understanding and Treating The Pain)

why does my elbow hurt doing lateral raises

Why Does My Elbow Hurt Doing Lateral Raises? (Understanding and Treating The Pain)

Experiencing elbow pain during lateral raises is not uncommon. However, it’s essential to understand the cause of this discomfort to prevent further injury and ensure a safe and effective workout.

I have been victim to elbow pain in the past and hopefully this post will help you with the same issues I experienced, so that you can enjoy lateral raises without any problems.

This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of why your elbow might hurt during lateral raises and how to address the issue.

Why Does My Elbow Hurt Doing Lateral Raises?

Experiencing elbow pain during lateral raises can be attributed to several factors. The most common cause is improper form or technique, which can put undue stress on the elbow joint and surrounding muscles, leading to pain and potential injury. Overuse and strain from frequent or heavy lifting can also lead to inflammation and discomfort. Additionally, pre-existing conditions like tennis elbow, characterised by pain around the outside of the elbow, can be exacerbated by lateral raises. It’s crucial to maintain proper form, warm up before exercising, and listen to your body’s signals. If persistent elbow pain occurs, it’s advisable to seek medical advice to prevent further injury.

Understanding the Issue

Anatomy of the Elbow

The elbow is a complex joint involving three bones: the humerus, radius, and ulna. It allows for both flexion and extension, as well as rotation of the forearm and wrist. During lateral raises, the elbow joint is not the primary mover but plays a crucial role in stabilising the weight as your shoulder abducts.

Incorrect form during lateral raises can put undue stress on the elbow joint, leading to pain and discomfort. It’s essential to understand the anatomy of the elbow and how it’s impacted by lateral raises to prevent potential injury.

Common Causes of Elbow Pain during Lateral Raises

Elbow pain during lateral raises can stem from several factors:

Incorrect Form and Technique: One of the primary culprits behind elbow pain is improper form while lifting weights. Misalignment or incorrect technique can place undue stress on the elbow joint and the muscles around it, potentially leading to pain and even injury. It’s crucial to ensure that the weights are lifted with the muscles of the shoulder, not the elbow, and that a slight bend in the elbow is maintained throughout the exercise.

Overuse and Strain: Another common cause of elbow pain is overuse and strain of the muscles and tendons that support the elbow joint. Regularly performing high-intensity workouts or not allowing adequate recovery time can lead to muscle strain and inflammation, which can manifest as pain during movements like lateral raises.

Pre-existing Conditions: Pre-existing conditions, such as tennis elbow, can also contribute to pain during lateral raises. Tennis elbow, characterised by pain around the outside of the elbow, is often the result of overuse of the forearm muscles. If you have a history of tennis elbow, it’s particularly important to ensure proper form and avoid overuse when performing lateral raises.

Identifying the Pain

It’s normal to feel a certain level of discomfort or strain in your muscles during a workout. However, sharp or persistent pain, particularly in a joint, is a sign that something might be wrong.

If you experience persistent elbow pain during or after performing lateral raises, it’s important to pay attention to this signal from your body. Pain can indicate a potential injury or strain that needs to be addressed.

If the pain persists even after rest and applying home remedies like ice, it’s advisable to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to help you recover and prevent further injury.

Addressing the Problem

Correcting Your Form

Proper form is crucial when performing lateral raises. Not only does it ensure the targeted muscles are effectively engaged, but it also minimizes the risk of injury. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the correct form for lateral raises:

  1. Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand, arms fully extended, and palms facing your torso. This will be your starting position.
  2. Keep the torso stationary and lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend on the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward. Continue to go up until your arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you execute this movement and pause for a second at the top.
  3. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position as you inhale.

Related: Is It Better to Do Shoulder Presses Standing or Sitting?

Preventive Measures and Alternatives

Preventing elbow pain during lateral raises often involves a combination of warm-ups, stretches, and alternative exercises:

  • Warm-ups and Stretches: Always start your workout with a warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for the exercise. Follow your workout with stretches to help relax the muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Alternative Exercises: If lateral raises continue to cause elbow pain, consider alternative exercises that target the same muscles but put less strain on the elbow. For example, seated lateral raises or cable lateral raises can be less stressful on the elbow joint.

Treatment Options

If you’re experiencing elbow pain during lateral raises, the following treatment options can help:

  • Rest and Recovery: Rest is often the first line of treatment for minor injuries and strains. It’s essential to give your body time to heal and recover.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can be beneficial for treating and preventing injuries. A physical therapist can provide exercises to strengthen the muscles around the elbow and improve flexibility.
  • Medication and Medical Interventions: In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage pain and inflammation. If conservative treatments are not effective, medical interventions such as injections or surgery may be considered.


How to do lateral raises without hurting elbows?

To perform lateral raises without causing elbow pain, it’s crucial to maintain proper form. This includes keeping a slight bend in your elbows and not lifting the weights too high. Starting your workout with a comprehensive warm-up and ending with targeted stretches can also help prepare your muscles and joints for the exercise and promote recovery. If you continue to experience pain, consider incorporating alternative exercises that work the same muscle groups but put less strain on the elbows. Consulting with a fitness professional or healthcare provider can provide personalized advice and guidance.

Is it normal for lateral raises to hurt?

While it’s normal to feel a certain level of muscle fatigue or discomfort during a workout, experiencing sharp or persistent pain is not typical and should not be ignored. Pain, especially in the elbow during lateral raises, could indicate an injury or that the exercise is being performed with improper form. If you’re experiencing pain during this exercise, it’s important to reassess your technique or consult with a fitness professional.

How do you fix elbow pain from lifting?

Addressing elbow pain from lifting involves a combination of rest, applying cold compresses or ice to reduce inflammation, and using over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. It’s important to give your body time to heal and recover. If the pain persists despite these measures, it’s advisable to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, which may include physical therapy or other interventions.

Should I bend my elbows for lateral raises?

Yes, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows during lateral raises can help prevent strain and injury. This position allows for better control during the exercise and helps to keep the focus on your shoulder muscles, reducing the likelihood of unnecessary stress on the elbow joint. It’s important to remember that the weights should be lifted with the muscles of the shoulder, not the elbow.

Related: Do Face Pulls Work Traps?

Final Thoughts…

Understanding the cause of elbow pain during lateral raises and how to address it is crucial for a safe and effective workout. Always remember the importance of proper form, warming up before exercising, and listening to your body. Stay safe and keep moving!

Do you experience elbow pain when doing lateral raises and have these tips helped? Let me know in the comments section below.

If you enjoy sports and use CBD to help with your recovery in between gruelling workouts, then you are in the right place. Here at Sport CBDs, we train hard and recover the best way possible…

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Until next time, all the best…

Beginners Upper Body Kettlebell Workout


Founder – Sport CBDs

Featured Image Attribution – Image by stockking on Freepik

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