Elbow Pain During Push Ups And How To Fix

You must have heard many people complaining about their elbow pain during push-ups or certain exercises before, and you wondered why that happens most often.

As an athletic player, there are certain movements and exercises you can’t train without or abandon.

As a result, you overdo it, and it causes some problems. However, training in a smart way will almost prevent any injury from happening.

elbow pain push up

Elbow pain is very common among bodybuilders, calisthenics, and crossfitters. These athletes involve their elbow, knee, and wrist joints heavily in their training because this is resistance training.

As a result, some of them might get aches and pains in these certain joints.

Elbow pain during push-ups is the most common type of pain, and that’s why we will break it down today. You will be able to identify the pain and tweak some positions so you could ease the pain and exercise freely.

Why you can get elbow pain during push ups

The anatomy of a push up

The push-up and who doesn’t know the pushup, the great exercise that we did back when we were kids in high school competing with each other will do the most reps in this exercise.

The push-up is an exercise used in strength training such as powerlifting, resistance training such as bodybuilding, and bodyweight training such as calisthenics.

For these reasons, it is an important exercise that adds to every training program.

The push-up exercise works mainly the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The focus on each muscle differs between variations as the push-up has many variations to focus on a specific muscle while also hitting others but at a lesser degree. As it is a push “press” movement, it depends completely on the shoulder joint and elbows joint.

Like the bench press, the main joint in the elbow as you push yourself up and lower yourself down by bending the elbow joint. This is how the elbow joint is stressed, and in fact, it is stressed heavily while doing the push-up exercise.


  • Form: Poor form while doing any exercise would eventually cause an injury or pain in certain joints or muscles. Proper form is the key to prevent injuries and longevity.
  • Not warming up: The warm-up part before any workout is nearly more important than the actual workout. When you don’t warm up properly, your muscles and joints are not ready for that load or exercise. As a result, they get injured, or pain occurs.
  • Muscle weaknesses: Having a weak triceps would eventually cause pain in your elbows as they are connected. When doing the push-up, your elbows would do the heavy work resulting in pains or aches if you have weak triceps.
  • Overweight: Being overweight while doing push-ups means that you offer a considerable resistance to your body, as it is a bodyweight exercise. This might cause elbow pain because it is a great load on the joint, and is not strong enough.

Proper Push Up Form

Elbow Position

The elbow positioning is an essential aspect that you should consider and tweak to reduce the pain or even eliminate it.

When you move your elbows to the side, and move past your wrists, the elbows get hurt, and this position offers unwanted stress on them. A bigger problem is when you move your elbows behind the wrists when doing the push-up.

When you move them behind the wrists, you put them in an awkward angle that they are not designed for. By that, you are changing the exercise from being a chest-dominant to be a triceps-dominant in a chest-dominant variation.

You won’t feel the pain immediately, but instead, you will feel the pain suddenly, and when it comes, it comes hard.

To make sure that your technique is and elbow positioning is correct, keep your elbows over your wrist at a 45-degree position. This position ensures that your elbows are in a safe position but also your shoulders.

Hand Position

Hand position could also be a big factor when it comes to elbow pain during push-ups. Positioning the hands very close to each other would cause problems regarding your elbow positioning and would also be a triceps-focused type of push-up, which puts more stress on the elbows.

You want your hands to be in a place that allows for proper elbow positioning and a place that won’t offer much stress. In other words, you want your hands to be placed right after your shoulder width.

By that, you ensure that minimal stress is put on your elbows and would eliminate any pain.

The issue with overtraining

Overtraining or “overdoing” certain exercises would cause pain, especially in the joints. It is a popular phase that many athletes go through because of the “GO HARD” mentality.

Training every day with high-intensity and failure is the biggest cause for injuries.

Training hard is essential, but you should mix it with smart training as well. You should allow for recovery between sessions to let your joints and muscles heal. This is done by taking rest days or just not hitting the same exercise or muscle each time you workout.

In other words, if you are obsessed with push-ups, you should do it at least 3 times a week, you could go for 4 times a week, and that would also allow for recovery so you won’t feel any pain in your elbows.

Final Words

In conclusion, elbow pain during push-ups is caused by many factors such as bad form, overtraining, and muscle weaknesses. Your duty is to improve your form and warm up properly so you can eliminate any pain in your elbows.

We have discussed all the aspects regarding elbow pain during pushups. Read carefully and tweak your form for the greater good.

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