Pull-ups can be a great way to work out.

By using your body weight, you can get a great workout that focuses on your upper body strength. 

Some people feel elbow pain when doing pull-ups. This can make you stop completing workouts and reaching your goals.

Pull-ups are similar to other exercises in that they do run a risk of causing injury when completing them. 

When you know what causes elbow pain and how to work around that, you can enjoy pull-ups again. Relieving elbow pain is often simple and you’ll be back on the bar in no time!   

What Causes Elbow Pain During a Pull-Up?

Any workout or exercise routine can lead to injuries or pain, even pull-ups.

All physical activity comes at the risk of creating physical problems. Some of these injuries can be simple but can lead to further physical complications.

When you complete any workout routine, you should listen to your body and slow down when necessary. 

When you learn a new exercise routine, you should learn what parts of your body will feel stress and how much you should expect to feel.

All exercises impact your body in different ways and by knowing what to expect, you’ll know what pain and tension are not. 

The repetitive up and down motion can cause elbow pain during pull-ups.

The motion can stress tendons, cartilage, and muscle fibers causing pain. This is prone to happen when you complete a large number of pull-ups in quick succession. 

Elbow pain can be exacerbated by pre-existing conditions such as tennis elbow and other problems.

Tennis elbow means that the tendons in your elbows have become swollen from repeated tension.

They can also tear, causing more lifelong problems. 

Pain in your elbow can do more than make your pull-ups harder to complete.

They can also cause pain when picking something up, especially when it’s heavy. It can be hard to get a good grip as well and create more frustration.

As the pain in your elbow tendons develops, it can continue to impact your health.

While you may not think that your elbows are a major part of your health, not being able to use your arms fully will change aspects of your health!   

When you have elbow pain, whether from pull-ups or elsewhere, wearing elbow sleeves can relieve some of that pain. They’ve grown in popularity and you won’t look out of place at the gym with these on!  

Can Pull-Ups Cause Injuries to Elbows?

While it is rare, pull-ups can contribute to tendonitis. Though it can start as a minor injury, it can become inflamed and lead to bigger problems with your tendons and elbows.

These injuries can impact your arm in different ways as your elbow adjusts to its swollen and stressed tendons. 

If you get tendonitis from pull-ups, it’s usually from the repetitive motion of going and down.

This is especially liable to happen when doing pull-ups quickly. Pushing the body too far can do more than make you tired, it can create serious problems. 

To prevent tendonitis from developing, you should take note of how many pull-ups you complete in a workout session.

Keeping track of your routine will prevent you from overexerting yourself. This is also when trying new routines comes in handy so you can continue to get in shape while giving parts of your body a rest.   

Resting is one of the best things to do when experiencing elbow pain during and after pull-ups.

Avoid workouts that put stress on the elbow and focus on other routines. Even a rest for a few workouts can relieve pain and stress.

Working with a professional can help you determine what kind of rest you need.    

If you find yourself with an elbow injury, there’s no need to stress. Studies show that elbow injuries have become more common in sports and workouts.

As people push themselves further, it is more likely they will become injured.  

How to Solve Elbow Pain When Doing Pull-Ups

Fortunately, it is usually very simple to resolve. By changing your grip, routine, or goals you can do pull-ups pain-free.

The cause of elbow pain, even severe, is often the result of incorrect form or too many reps.

Keep your upper body strength in motion!   

Use a Neutral Grip

One of the main reasons that you can feel pain in your elbow is because your grip is incorrect.

Holding your hands in a neutral grip will prevent unnecessary tension from developing in your elbows and throughout your arm.

A neutral grip will keep the focus on developing your upper body strength while still keeping your elbows tension-free.

It will also help you keep your technique correct so you can enjoy pull-ups for many years.

With any workout, knowing the neutral stance or grip will prevent tension from developing.

Extra stress while working out may feel like pushing yourself but it can exert parts of your body that are not made to be pushed that way.     

Do Some Extensor Workouts

Extensor workouts can help build strength in your extensors to prevent undue tension in your elbow joint. Creating more strength in these areas will also provide more support as you complete different exercises. 

These workouts can be similar to calisthenics and can be completed with your body weight. You can complete them at home and work on them at your pace.

As you get more strength with your extensors, you can push yourself more with your pull-ups.  

Adding variety to your workout routine will be helpful to prevent you from relying on one kind of workout.

As you can complete different exercises, you won’t have to push yourself in one type of workout.   

Adjust Hand Spacing

Your hands being too close together or far apart can create tension in your elbow joint and cause pain.

Keep your hands shoulder-width apart when starting to complete pull-ups. This will help you keep your form and technique correct. 

Your hand space should feel natural when you hang on the bar.

If you feel stress, you should move your hands until there is no tension. Any extra tension will be compounded as you complete a pull-up and add more stress to your elbows. 

As you build your strength, you can begin to adjust your hand spacing.

When you feel elbow pain developing again though, you should go back to keeping your hands shoulder-width apart.   

Consider a Suspension Trainer

A suspension trainer can help relieve tension from your elbow joint.

They’re designed to help you complete a pull-up or a similar motion while keeping your elbows, and other joints, free of tension. 

Many suspension trainers are portable and allow for different workout routines to be completed on them. You can continue to challenge yourself and develop your upper body strength with one workout tool. 

As people are looking for more flexible ways to work out, suspension trainers have become more popular. This one tool can make completing different workouts a breeze while leaving the elbows stress-free.     

Take Advantage of Rings

Rings can be a great way to relieve your elbow joint of pain.

Rings make it easy to adjust your grip and spacing, even mid-workout. They provide a more flexible way to complete your routine. 

Rings can also provide a different way of completing pull-ups and working on your upper body strength that doesn’t stress your elbows.

The more workouts you can add to your routine, the less likely you will be to continue to complete the same workouts that stress your joints. 

Rings can be thought of as an advanced workout tool, but they can be used by anyone. When finding new ways to complete pull-ups, they should not be overlooked.  

Adjust Your Progression

One of the main reasons that people develop elbow pain when completing a pull-up is because they’re pushing themselves too much.

Though you may have goals that you really want to reach, they should not come at the expense of your health. 

You can either slow down your reps or decrease the number of pull-ups you do to adjust your progress.

Too many repetitive motions in a row can create unnecessary tension as you complete your workout and cause problems out of the gym. 

As you adjust your workout, remind yourself that pain and potential injury can hinder your progress more than slowing down on your goals.

Adjusting your progress may mean that you get there slower, but an injury can prevent you from reaching your goals at all.  


Any exercise can cause pain and pull-ups are no exception.

The repetitive motion of pulling yourself up and down can inflame the tendons and cause pain during and after workouts. 

This pain can start small and develop into something serious. Tennis elbow can make it difficult to lift things and lead to further complications. 

Treating elbow pain when doing pull-ups can be simple.

By changing how you work out and adjusting your expectations, you can relieve elbow joint pain even during pull-ups. 

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