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Hammer Curls & Tennis Elbow (Why They Cause Elbow Pain!)

Hammer curls are an awesome bicep exercise that many people use to build bulky arms.

In this article, we investigate whether they can contribute to tennis elbow and whether they’re bad for your elbows in general.

Ready? Let’s get started.

What is Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition where the tissues connecting the forearm and elbow have become irritated and inflamed.

Tennis elbow is caused by repetitive motions of the arm at the wrist and elbow joints. This doesn’t mean you have to play tennis to get tennis elbow.

You can expect pain and swelling around the outside area of the elbow.

The pain can refer up and down towards the shoulder or wrist.

Tennis elbow is an overuse injury.

The most commonly prescribed recovery methods are rest, painkillers and/or anti-inflammatories for pain management, and sometimes manual therapy around the affected areas.

Some medical professionals recommend ice, others don’t. Ice and inflammation is a debated topic.

Oh yes, I almost forgot the most obvious remedy: temporarily stop doing the movement that caused tennis elbow in the first place.

You may still be able to train around the injury.

Some movements may bring blood flow to the area and promote recovery, without making things worse.

Man in the gym with elbow wrap to support his tennis elbow

Are Hammer Curls Bad For Tennis Elbow?

They may be, they may not. It’s highly individualised.

I have seen many articles where hammer curls are prescribed for the treatment and rehabilitation of tennis elbow.

If it doesn’t make the pain worse, it’s probably not making the injury worse.

If it makes your pain worse, all those articles can stick it.

Can Hammer Curls Cause Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is an overuse injury caused by repetitive movements of the arm.

Hammer curls are a repetitive movement of the arm.

By this logic, hammer curls have the potential to cause tennis elbow.

Can Hammer Curls Cause Elbow Pain that isn’t tennis elbow?

Yes. Tennis elbow is one of many things that can go wrong around the elbow.

The two most common painful experiences I’ve come across repeatedly with hammer curls:

Doing too much volume with a very light weight when returning from a long training layoff.

This annoyed the bicep tendon on both arms, just beneath the elbow. I wasn’t able to straighten my arms for days, and it hurt far beyond the normal DOMS.

I have tweaked my forearm multiple times by twisting out a little too much at the top of the hammer curl.

This is usually accidental, but I once experimented with a deliberate twist to palms facing up at the top. Really bad idea. After a week of no reduction of pain I needed to go to a physiotherapist, which helped.

Can You Do Hammer Curls With Tennis Elbow?

You can do anything you like when you’ve got tennis elbow! I’m not your dad. At the time of writing, I can say this with confidence. My children haven’t learned to read yet.

If what you do exacerbates the pain, I would advise steering clear of that.

If what you do doesn’t make the pain worse then proceed with caution, but you’re probably fine.

Best Bicep Exercises To Do If You Have Tennis Elbow

I’m biased here based on empirical experience, but I really like reverse curls and Zottman curls for working around tennis elbow.

But as always, when it comes to pain and injury…

*deep breath*

I’m not a doctor, DYOR (Do Your Own Research), googling isn’t proper research, solely reading articles like this does not constitute proper research, and seek the advice of a trusted and qualified medical provider.

That’s all for this article, but perhaps you’re interested in hammer curls vs reverse curls? Or what about hammer curls vs incline curls?

Hope this helped!


Tennis Elbow