Elbow Pain after grappling

Ivan

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Hi guys. I have had an issue with my elbows for quite a while. It started all the way back in January I believe, perhaps some weeks before this. After BJJ training, I would get some extremely sharp pain in my elbows, that was very debilitating and painful - the drives home would be arduous and I'd tuck in my elbows to my stomach whilst gripping the steering wheel as it provided some tiny smidge of relief. I consulted a sports physiotherapist and was told I could keep training, and that it was tendonitis. After some weeks of training, it eventually went away on its own.

However, in the past 2 months or so, the pain has come back. It is always after class, and it's worse after rolling. I decided to train through it again but there is no sign of it letting up. The pain radiates and is so painful that I wouldn't be able to pinpoint its precise location. I have no issues whilst I am weightlifting or doing any other activities. It is always after jiu-jitsu and it goes away within 2 hours or so as if it was never there. I have avoided the idea of taking a break from the sport unless I felt it was absolutely needed, but I am playing around with the idea of taking a weeks' break and using this week to focus on strengthening my tendons - after this week, I'll try a session or two, and if the problem persists take some more time. I understand that I should consult my physio again, but I simply cannot afford it, at least not until the start of next month. I was simply hoping to inquire about your experience with this, and whether any of you can recommend any strengthening or stretching exercises to help remediate this issue.

I have already ordered myself some elbow braces as well as some finger bands as I believe it may be caused by some disbalance of my forearm muscles - since gripping strengthen the inside of the forearm, and I have overlooked training my outer forearm, I imagine that this disbalance may be placing strain on my tendons. Nevertheless, other than finger bands, I am unsure what other exercises I could use to do this. Do any of you have any ideas or previous experience with this?
 

Oily Dragon

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Hi guys. I have had an issue with my elbows for quite a while. It started all the way back in January I believe, perhaps some weeks before this. After BJJ training, I would get some extremely sharp pain in my elbows, that was very debilitating and painful - the drives home would be arduous and I'd tuck in my elbows to my stomach whilst gripping the steering wheel as it provided some tiny smidge of relief. I consulted a sports physiotherapist and was told I could keep training, and that it was tendonitis. After some weeks of training, it eventually went away on its own.

However, in the past 2 months or so, the pain has come back. It is always after class, and it's worse after rolling. I decided to train through it again but there is no sign of it letting up. The pain radiates and is so painful that I wouldn't be able to pinpoint its precise location. I have no issues whilst I am weightlifting or doing any other activities. It is always after jiu-jitsu and it goes away within 2 hours or so as if it was never there. I have avoided the idea of taking a break from the sport unless I felt it was absolutely needed, but I am playing around with the idea of taking a weeks' break and using this week to focus on strengthening my tendons - after this week, I'll try a session or two, and if the problem persists take some more time. I understand that I should consult my physio again, but I simply cannot afford it, at least not until the start of next month. I was simply hoping to inquire about your experience with this, and whether any of you can recommend any strengthening or stretching exercises to help remediate this issue.

I have already ordered myself some elbow braces as well as some finger bands as I believe it may be caused by some disbalance of my forearm muscles - since gripping strengthen the inside of the forearm, and I have overlooked training my outer forearm, I imagine that this disbalance may be placing strain on my tendons. Nevertheless, other than finger bands, I am unsure what other exercises I could use to do this. Do any of you have any ideas or previous experience with this?
Golf and tennis elbow are painful and aren't limited to just those sports.

Consider ligament and tendon strength, and how easy it is to sprain an ankle.

Muscle pain is usually pretty brief, straining connective tissue can mean seasons of lost training time.

RICE works, cold compress and cold/hot linaments work, cold plunge works, massage works, warm heat, and try not to overdose on medications, and avoid alcohol at all costs.
 

Tony Dismukes

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I strongly suspect that you are doing something non-ergonomic while rolling, such as holding grips unnecessarily tightly. Can you ask your instructor to roll with you a little bit and see if he notices anything you might be doing which could be causing you problems?
 

Oily Dragon

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I strongly suspect that you are doing something non-ergonomic while rolling, such as holding grips unnecessarily tightly. Can you ask your instructor to roll with you a little bit and see if he notices anything you might be doing which could be causing you problems?
We should talk about death grips. They also impact golf and tennis elbow.

The inflamed fingers are one thing but as a whole you can def hurt your elbows by gripping (don't want to say "too hard", that's relative to the situation).
 
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Ivan

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I strongly suspect that you are doing something non-ergonomic while rolling, such as holding grips unnecessarily tightly. Can you ask your instructor to roll with you a little bit and see if he notices anything you might be doing which could be causing you problems?
Hi, I am a very grip-heavy guy so I wouldn't be surprised if this is an issue, though I do keep it in mind and I am aware grip can cause issues so I try my best not to death-grip. I am a bit hesitant to roll again until I have rested a bit. Once I speak to my physio to ensure what to do and I am ready to return in a couple of weeks or so, I will definitely update the thread on this. For now, I am erring on the side of caution as I don't want the issue to turn chronic and seep into daily life, as well as causing me to take months instead of weeks off of training.
 

JowGaWolf

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Hi, I am a very grip-heavy guy so I wouldn't be surprised if this is an issue, though I do keep it in mind and I am aware grip can cause issues so I try my best not to death-grip. I am a bit hesitant to roll again until I have rested a bit. Once I speak to my physio to ensure what to do and I am ready to return in a couple of weeks or so, I will definitely update the thread on this. For now, I am erring on the side of caution as I don't want the issue to turn chronic and seep into daily life, as well as causing me to take months instead of weeks off of training.
You will need to take some time off training that involves your arms. I get similar issues and the best thing I can do for my issue is to ice it when the throbbing pain kicks in, and then try not to use my arms as much for anything. It's one of those things that's easy to injure over and over before you completely heal.
 
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Ivan

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You will need to take some time off training that involves your arms. I get similar issues and the best thing I can do for my issue is to ice it when the throbbing pain kicks in, and then try not to use my arms as much for anything. It's one of those things that's easy to injure over and over before you completely heal.
How long would you say complete recovery time could take, on average? Currently, I am investigating different exercises for tricep tendinopathy, tennis, and golfer's elbow - since I cannot pinpoint the exact location of the pain, I will try to rehab my whole elbow in general.
 

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How long would you say complete recovery time could take, on average? Currently, I am investigating different exercises for tricep tendinopathy, tennis, and golfer's elbow - since I cannot pinpoint the exact location of the pain, I will try to rehab my whole elbow in general.
It varies depending on how often you re-injure it during the normal course of the day. 2 to 3 weeks with the 3rd week being rehab for me. I think the longest heaing time was 6 months because I kept reinjuring it.

To give you an idea of how re-injury can mess you up, I jammed my thumb 7 months ago and it's still not fully healed. I should have put it in a splint. Doing normal things like getting out the bed caused most of the re-injuries to my thumb. You may want to use an elbow brace to help support daily light use of your elbow. Get some protein in you as well. I usually take in more protein after any type of injury. But the most important thing is to not re- injure.
 
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Ivan

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It varies depending on how often you re-injure it during the normal course of the day. 2 to 3 weeks with the 3rd week being rehab for me. I think the longest heaing time was 6 months because I kept reinjuring it.

To give you an idea of how re-injury can mess you up, I jammed my thumb 7 months ago and it's still not fully healed. I should have put it in a splint. Doing normal things like getting out the bed caused most of the re-injuries to my thumb. You may want to use an elbow brace to help support daily light use of your elbow. Get some protein in you as well. I usually take in more protein after any type of injury. But the most important thing is to not re- injure.
I see that makes sense. As of now, the only thing that causes pain, or re-injury is BJJ on its own. Ive had some pain today without BJJ for the first time, but very lightly and its actually helped pinpoint the source of the pain - I believe it is from the tricep tendon. I think Ill spare some money and book an appointment ASAP, and take a short break from BJJ.

A break is probably long overdue anyways, I didnt even manage to rest during what was supposed to be a holiday as I was training with body weight and at a local BJJ gym daily.
 

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I think Ill spare some money and book an appointment ASAP, and take a short break from BJJ.
A very wise choice. Tendons and ligments naturally take longer to heal.

A break is probably long overdue anyways, I didnt even manage to rest during what was supposed to be a holiday as I was training with body weight and at a local BJJ gym daily.
Sounds like you may be over training a bit. It happens. I still do it from time to time. The biggest difference for me now is that I'm more likely to take a short break for anything that doesn't feel like muscle soreness. It doesn't matter how small the pain is. When I was 20 I used to think small pains like that will go away. Now that I'm older. I tend to think something is about to give so I better take a break. The last time I ignored that was this year when I tore a calf muscle. I kept going and the muscle tore.
 
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Ivan

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A very wise choice. Tendons and ligments naturally take longer to heal.


Sounds like you may be over training a bit. It happens. I still do it from time to time. The biggest difference for me now is that I'm more likely to take a short break for anything that doesn't feel like muscle soreness. It doesn't matter how small the pain is. When I was 20 I used to think small pains like that will go away. Now that I'm older. I tend to think something is about to give so I better take a break. The last time I ignored that was this year when I tore a calf muscle. I kept going and the muscle tore.
It definitely takes a lot for me to make a decision such as this - training takes up a big chunk of my life and identity. I have nothing to do without it. Rest days are hard enough for me as is. Ive been training full time for so long, and being unable to do this over the past supposed holiday and during the days here Ill have to rest makes me realise just how much I dont have.

I have a single friend I rely on for social interaction and other than that all I do is just training and studying. During these rest days I spend too much time sitting and staring out of my window or into my phone, and now I will have to deal with this every day. I crave the return to my routine.
 

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Maybe this will help. I tend to think of Rest as a part of training. I don't know if you have experienced this or not, but you will actually get stronger and better with rest. Pick 2 days out of the week that you will dedicated to resting and healing. I think you will be satisfied with the results. Just remember to refuel on your rest days. Your body will need nutrients to rebuild on those days.
 

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I havent read all the posts, so I may be repeating some of them.

As others have noted, you likely are overusing (at least for their current conditioning) your grip muscles. This puts strain on the tendons, which leads to tendinitis. The more you put pressure towards the tips of the fingers (common with fabric grips), the more likely it is to irritate the tendons, I think.

Stretching helps prevent this (I can post specific stretches if your doc hasnt recommended any), and can help healing once youre past the acute stage (that debilitating pain). Recovery typically takes weeks, and you have to give those tendons a rest for that to happen. That doesnt mean you cant train - you just have to avoid things that make your arm feel on fire.

Ive been dealing with this in my new job (never had it in MA, perhaps because of the stretches we always did before class, f that I used as a fidget throughout the day). A couple of things they have helped me: a tendinitis brace and kinesiology tape.

The brace puts pressure below the affected tendon, to change how it moves. As I understand it, this just changes high part of the tendon is stressed, resting the disorganized tissue.

K-tape works in ways I dont understand, but somehow supports the system. There are a number of recommended taping patterns, so youll likely need to experiment to find one that gives you some relief. I have found it sometimes works when a brace doesnt help.
 

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I havent read all the posts, so I may be repeating some of them.

As others have noted, you likely are overusing (at least for their current conditioning) your grip muscles. This puts strain on the tendons, which leads to tendinitis. The more you put pressure towards the tips of the fingers (common with fabric grips), the more likely it is to irritate the tendons, I think.

Stretching helps prevent this (I can post specific stretches if your doc hasnt recommended any), and can help healing once youre past the acute stage (that debilitating pain). Recovery typically takes weeks, and you have to give those tendons a rest for that to happen. That doesnt mean you cant train - you just have to avoid things that make your arm feel on fire.

Ive been dealing with this in my new job (never had it in MA, perhaps because of the stretches we always did before class, f that I used as a fidget throughout the day). A couple of things they have helped me: a tendinitis brace and kinesiology tape.

The brace puts pressure below the affected tendon, to change how it moves. As I understand it, this just changes high part of the tendon is stressed, resting the disorganized tissue.

K-tape works in ways I dont understand, but somehow supports the system. There are a number of recommended taping patterns, so youll likely need to experiment to find one that gives you some relief. I have found it sometimes works when a brace doesnt help.
Yep No shortcuts for healing ligaments and tendons. They are never once they are damaged.
 
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Ivan

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I havent read all the posts, so I may be repeating some of them.

As others have noted, you likely are overusing (at least for their current conditioning) your grip muscles. This puts strain on the tendons, which leads to tendinitis. The more you put pressure towards the tips of the fingers (common with fabric grips), the more likely it is to irritate the tendons, I think.

Stretching helps prevent this (I can post specific stretches if your doc hasnt recommended any), and can help healing once youre past the acute stage (that debilitating pain). Recovery typically takes weeks, and you have to give those tendons a rest for that to happen. That doesnt mean you cant train - you just have to avoid things that make your arm feel on fire.

Ive been dealing with this in my new job (never had it in MA, perhaps because of the stretches we always did before class, f that I used as a fidget throughout the day). A couple of things they have helped me: a tendinitis brace and kinesiology tape.

The brace puts pressure below the affected tendon, to change how it moves. As I understand it, this just changes high part of the tendon is stressed, resting the disorganized tissue.

K-tape works in ways I dont understand, but somehow supports the system. There are a number of recommended taping patterns, so youll likely need to experiment to find one that gives you some relief. I have found it sometimes works when a brace doesnt help.
Those stretches sound useful - would you be able to post them please? I like K tape too, so Ive ordered some along with the elbow braces.
 

_Simon_

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It definitely takes a lot for me to make a decision such as this - training takes up a big chunk of my life and identity. I have nothing to do without it. Rest days are hard enough for me as is. Ive been training full time for so long, and being unable to do this over the past supposed holiday and during the days here Ill have to rest makes me realise just how much I dont have.

I have a single friend I rely on for social interaction and other than that all I do is just training and studying. During these rest days I spend too much time sitting and staring out of my window or into my phone, and now I will have to deal with this every day. I crave the return to my routine.
Totally get that feeling man. Might be a great time to do some mobility work, foam rolling/massage etc. What @JowGaWolf said about treating and seeing rest/recovery as a part of training itself (as opposed to the "opposite" of training) is 100% spot on. Super important.

Our psychology and mindset towards when injuries occur is also a big part of training. I've certainly gone down the challenging road of feeling despair and frustration with injuries... still at times do. But I'm learning to change my relationship with pain and injury, and just see it as something my body is trying to communicate with me, like a good friend would. To respect myself and not push myself through (which can actually be a form of punishment on yourself, attacking yourself for "being weak"). You are not only what you do, that's not your sole identity. You're far more than that. But also you're still training anyway, just in a different way.

It's hard, I know, but rest and recovery (as well as keeping your body healthy, mobile and addressing imbalances) are so worth it, and crucial in implementing in your martial arts for longevity in the whole thing.

Also gives you a chance to read up on martial arts theory, watch MA stuff, and I'm sure there are threads on here that list what activities people do when injured.

Hoping it heals up soon mate
 

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I havent read all the posts, so I may be repeating some of them.

As others have noted, you likely are overusing (at least for their current conditioning) your grip muscles. This puts strain on the tendons, which leads to tendinitis. The more you put pressure towards the tips of the fingers (common with fabric grips), the more likely it is to irritate the tendons, I think.

Stretching helps prevent this (I can post specific stretches if your doc hasnt recommended any), and can help healing once youre past the acute stage (that debilitating pain). Recovery typically takes weeks, and you have to give those tendons a rest for that to happen. That doesnt mean you cant train - you just have to avoid things that make your arm feel on fire.

Ive been dealing with this in my new job (never had it in MA, perhaps because of the stretches we always did before class, f that I used as a fidget throughout the day). A couple of things they have helped me: a tendinitis brace and kinesiology tape.

The brace puts pressure below the affected tendon, to change how it moves. As I understand it, this just changes high part of the tendon is stressed, resting the disorganized tissue.

K-tape works in ways I dont understand, but somehow supports the system. There are a number of recommended taping patterns, so youll likely need to experiment to find one that gives you some relief. I have found it sometimes works when a brace doesnt help.
YES I've never understood kinesiology tape either!! Always see pro athletes with it so it surely must do something haha
 

Gerry Seymour

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Those stretches sound useful - would you be able to post them please? I like K tape too, so Ive ordered some along with the elbow braces.
I'll do a search later. If I don't find any videos, I'll record a couple, or at least post pictures.
 

Oily Dragon

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YES I've never understood kinesiology tape either!! Always see pro athletes with it so it surely must do something haha
It's pretty simple. K tape is like a car jack for your joints, it lifts skin around it making a little room to encourage blood flow, lift tissue off of impacted nerves, etc. That little space between the tissues and skin makes a difference.
 

Oily Dragon

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Something else to mention, golf or tennis elbow can make all sorts of daily routines painful. Just putting on and taking off a sock is rough, and you'll actually risk reinjuring over and over. So if you normally use the injured arm to do something, you really need to force yourself to use the non injured arm until the other is fully healed.

Last time I had it, I got it from swimming too hard, and it took about 4 months to go away using a combo of flex bar stretches and not using the elbow when socking myself.
 

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