Regardless of the season here in New England, a lot of folks end up at times doing some pretty hefty work taking care of house and home. Perhaps your yard or house, if you have one, is a little like mine. In the fall there is often some pretty significant leaf clean up, in the winter there is more than plenty snow to shovel, the spring calls for cleaning up the yard once again and as long as it rains summer the summer…there is grass to be mowed and house projects to be attacked.
It is usually with these peaks of activity that little things that brew tend to boil over.
This isn’t for any particular reason other than the work that creeps up tends to add up pretty quickly when there is only so much time in a day or a weekend. So you push through it, get it done, and then right as you are about to throw your feet up the troops start complaining.
It can feel like your body cannot keep with you as a person.
However it’s not really work that breaks the machine down, it is friction. Keep it oiled, and the parts tuned, and a good machine can run for a long, long time.
In the case of our bodies, if it was just a situation of too much work then our only problem should just be exhaustion…not pain.
When a part begins to hurt and limit you when perhaps too much too soon has occurred, it is a often times there are parts that tend to bear the brunt of things a bit more than others. These often times tend to be the more vocal parts.
This means it’s not always what you are doing, and not even necessarily how much you did… instead it is often how you are doing it that causes the problem.
Just like your car, our body was built to be driven, and driven a lot, but we all need to learn how to take the corners without ramming the sidewalk.
And that is so often what is going on with an elbow issue; it has just been asked to do work far more awkwardly than it was ever designed to deal with.
Often there are issues south of the elbow with how you grip and grasp with your hand.
What sort of issues?
I’ll give you a hint; when an elbow aches very often the person does not grip with all their fingers. Typically only their thumb, index and middle fingers…the muscles that those pesky “tennis elbow” tendons go to…
Often there are also issues north of the elbow with how much (or more commonly, how little) your trunk and body as a whole is able to move with your arm and give it leverage.
Very often when an elbow aches it is the only, or at the very least the main structure moving with some very basic upper body activities.
That heroic and now painful elbow is anchored to an underactive, and very often rather stiff torso.
Although every situation is absolutely unique, these are some very common factors that I see almost universally present with almost any person with elbow pain.
At times they are very simple, and when addressed the changes often make a significant impact on the situation. Other times the problems are bit more ingrained, and it takes more than just a few reps to iron things out.
That said, I would love to share a few more helpful details on how to address the issues I touched on above.
So, below you will find some links to videos taking not only a deeper dive of these common factors but also some simple ways you can try to relieve the elbow pain that you may actually be experiencing.
There is this one where I go through all the issues south of your elbow that may be contributing to why it is bothering you.
And then there is this one where I map out some very significant factors north of your elbow that is often a part of the problem.
And finally there is this video where I show some very simple and often times effective self mobilizations that may help to reduce the elbow pain that you are experiencing.
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you’re comfortable, able and well… and don’t hesitate to reach out if your elbow is less than willing to do all that the rest of you would like to.