Around The Pain Series – Elbows
Some people are more prone than others to getting sore elbows. Usually someone with a small bone structure that's starting to get very strong will go through this at some point. The bicep flexes the elbow and the tricep extends the elbow. But most of the time it has more to do with the rotation of the wrist from pronation to supination and the restriction imposed by certain exercises.
A sore elbow can take weeks to fix. I have witnessed acupuncture to be very effective for elbows. But the point is you need to fix it. Giving it total rest for a week may do it some good but most of the time we don't listen to that advice anyways so here are a few modifications you can make.
Barbell curls forces a full supination on the wrist and can cause irritation. Switch to using dumbbells and alternate each arm so you have better control to not aggravate the injury further. turn your wrist in a way that you don't feel any pain.
Chin ups act in a same way that at the bottom of the motion it puts a lot of strain on the elbow by over supinating. Switch to a row machine with free moving handles (if you have one) if not I would use rings or TRX straps so you can freely move your wrist throughout the motion.
Tricep extensions done to the forehead (skull crusher) or lower (french press) causes a lot of pressure on the elbow. I found out the hard way when I used to perform them to the forehead all the time and then the pain started and would not go away. Now I only do them once every 2 months that low. If you want to save your elbows from injury it's better that you bring the bar above the head that way some of the weight will be distributed towards the shoulder and will allow for a better elbow angle.
Overdoing the sets on arms is the second reason people get elbow pain.One day you work your back with pull ups (which involves elbow flexion), then a day for shoulders with upright rows (which involves elbow flexion) and another day for direct bicep work. You can see that the elbow at this point will have been worked a lot.
This depends on how you structure your weekly training but I would not do no more than 9 sets of direct bicep of tricep work in 1 workout. Anything more will only start to cause irritation and the muscle has been stimulated enough at that point.