How to Fix Elbow Pain Fast (4 Unique Exercises)

Do This to Decrease Tennis Elbow or Golfer's Elbow Pain

By Coach E

how to fix elbow pain fast - thumbnail

Discover the missing key elements on how to fix elbow pain, plus learn four unique exercises to get everything working properly.

The standard approach for elbow pain (especially from Golfer’s Elbow or Tennis Elbow) is missing some key elements that will prevent you, in the long run, from doing what you love because they treat the symptoms and not the root cause of the wear and tear damage.

These types of elbow pain can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they play golf (golfer’s elbow is medial epicondylitis) or tennis (lateral epicondylitis). The names don’t really matter other than to mean inner (medial) or outer (lateral).

If you do something with your hands often and do it intensely, then you can suffer from this pain.

If you want to follow along with the videos of these exercises, click here to watch the video Fix Golfers and Tennis Elbow Pain FAST with these 4 Unique Exercises.

You can also fast-track your healing by adding specific tennis elbow exercises or golfer’s elbow exercises to the holistic approach we’re about to show you.

The Role of Stretches

Today, there are a couple of common approaches that we’ll break down real quick. First, you’ll commonly see stretches, particularly wrist stretches, where you pull your hand down or up to.

wrist stretches for elbow pain

Another common approach is having someone do eccentric exercises. We use a little bit of this, but it’s not the be-all-end-all.

You need eccentric exercises. You need concentric exercises. You need isometric exercises, and we’ll go through a lot of isometric stuff today.

You need all of the different muscle actions. There’s no magic bullet from one or the other. You’ve got to train them all. You’ve got to restore function, strength, and stability to the elbow and into other joints.

A key message is that we must get all of the muscles in the forearm and arm working together.  Often the medial or lateral side of the arm is the only guy working, and what happens when one muscle does all of the work for everyone else?  You guessed it, it complains and is painful.

That’s how you’re going to get long-term results.

Commonly Missed Elements of Elbow Pain

What you’re getting here today is the commonly missed elements when it comes to elbow pain.

pushup elbow pain

Number one is elbow stability. You rarely hear the term elbow stability. You rarely see it trained. But it’s so essential to a healthy elbow joint, and we will go through that specifically in the second exercise.

Number two is shoulder range of motion and scapular stability. This is fairly well known, and we’re going to go through one exercise that’s going to be really beneficial for both.

Number three is posture. Posture is often left unaddressed, and Dr. B often talks about how research shows a large amount of force goes through the elbow or a large increase in force goes through the elbow with poor posture and poor scapular stability. In short, it increases the strain that goes through the elbow. Over time, that strain results in premature wear and tear.

Those are the missing key elements to addressing elbow pain for good.

Exercises for How to Fix Elbow Pain

Now, let’s go through the routines that will address these missing elements.

Exercise 1: ASMR Wrist Flexors

The first is active self-myofascial release for the wrist flexors. We’ll show instructions for the wrist flexors, but you can do the same on the wrist extensors (just start with your wrist in extension).

For this technique, start with flexion at the wrist and elbow (bend both like you’re doing a bicep curl.)

asmr wrists - exercise for elbow pain

  1. Starting from flexion, press your thumb into your palm
  2. Move your thumb up your arm as you extend your wrist and elbow
  3. Stop once your cross over your elbow
  4. Repeat, starting at and working different spots up your arm

Keep going for 1-2 minutes in different areas per side. Do each arm once. Then you’ll be perfectly warmed up for the next exercise.

You’re going on different lines up the forearm, and you can start mid-forearm going right up into the elbow, even into the bicep – past the elbow between the bicep and the brachialis.

Just one point. If you’ve got a sensitive medial epicondyle (area near the funny bone), you don’t want to jam right over it. Go over it gently. Some nerves could be exposed. If you’ve got elbow pain around this area, the likelihood of your tendon being a little irritated is very high. Taking the time to be a little more gentle around that area helps.

ASMR addresses flexibility and tissue quality in the forearms and across the wrist. It’s superior to static stretching. Say, for example, you have a knot or some adhesions in the layers of the muscles or perhaps between the fascia and the muscles. If you stretch those essentially glued-up areas, they won’t actually be stretched. They’re strong, and you’re only going to stretch the already pliable tissue. Basically, it doesn’t help at all.

If you have these problems like scar tissue or adhesions, active self-myofascial release is far superior.

The other component is activity. You’re actively firing up those muscles to extend the wrist. This will help the neuromuscular system restore this good movement pattern in this range of motion. When you have the neuromuscular system involved, then you have more long-term and persistent results both in range of motion, flexibility, and mobility.

Finally, it’s good for you, especially if you’re gripping in your hobbies, sports, or just lifting weights.

Exercise 2: Extended Elbow Wrist Fl-Ex

This is a unique one that we’ve used to help people out with long-standing elbow pain when previous approaches did not help.

This one exercise should become a staple in your warm-ups and in your rehab toolbox if you ever have any issues with your elbows.

It’s the Extended Elbow Wrist Fl-Ex or Extended Elbow Wrist Fan.

There are a few key elements to this exercise. One, start off with the elbow bent, and then you fire up the biceps and triceps. Activate those muscles, and you keep the biceps and triceps on the whole time. Then you go into extension of the elbow. Then keeping the elbow extended, move into the extended flared hand and wrist position.

Then when you extend the wrist, the biceps and triceps are on, and you’re maintaining terminal elbow extension (a straight elbow).

extended elbow wrist el-ex - elbow pain exercise

  1. Start with the elbow bent
  2. Activate your biceps and triceps, keeping them on the whole time
  3. Straighten the elbow slowly so you can be aware of your biceps and triceps
  4. Once your elbow is completely straight (not hyper-extended for your hypermobile folks), extend the wrist and flare your fingers.
  5. Hold for 5 seconds
  6. Return to neutral wrist
  7. Bend the elbow back to starting position
  8. Relax

Do 2 sets of 3 reps per side, holding for 5-10 seconds with each move position of the wrist.

When going into wrist extension and finger flare, really focus on that bicep/tricep, and don’t let the hand torque at all.

What is this training?

You’re working an often missed element at the elbow, stability. Elbow stability comes from that bicep and tricep activation that you’re continuing during this exercise. When you’re firing those up and keeping them on during the wrist movements, you train your neuromuscular system to fire up those muscles for elbow stability during other activities, like tennis or golf.

We need all of those muscles that cross the elbow joint to be active and strong so they can contribute to joint stability.

We find this especially true if you’re a big fan of spending time in the gym. Maybe someone trained you out of using the biceps and triceps when doing exercises like rows, push-ups, presses, or pull-ups. Maybe you were taught to focus on building a strong grip and activating the shoulders or big muscles around the shoulders.

But we need those biceps and triceps working to provide that stability and keep the elbow joint healthy.

Exercise 3: Shoulder ER – Supination Ratcheting

The third elbow pain exercise is the Shoulder External Rotation Supination Ratcheting Technique. It’s a mouthful but easy to do and will incorporate what you did in the last exercise.

Shoulder external rotation is what happens when your arms are at your sides, and rotate your palms and forearms forward. Think of how people will pull their shoulders back when they’re told to stand up straight.

Supination is at the forearm rotating the palms up toward the sky.

We will cut these movements into two and combine them into one exercise. It will break down the movements, so your muscles know what to do, then put them back together to give you that healthy neuromuscular patterning to take with you into your activities and sports.

Here’s how this goes:

Start off in good posture. You’re training that posture component by standing up in good alignment, and from there, start with the elbow bent at 90 degrees.

Shoulder ER - Supination Ratcheting

  1. From the starting position, supinate the palms as much as you can
  2. Externally rotate the shoulders, bringing your supinated palms out to your sides
  3. Hold for 5 seconds
  4. Straighten your elbows, keeping the external rotation of your shoulders
  5. Supinate your palms a little more, pinching your shoulders back
  6. Hold for 5 seconds
  7. Flex your elbow to bring them back to a 90-degree angle, keeping your shoulders in external rotation
  8. Hold for 5 seconds
  9. Repeat steps 4-8 for 3 cycles
  10. Gradually let go after completing all cycles

Do 2 sets for 3 cycles, holding each position for 5-10 seconds.

It’s work. These shoulder and arm muscles are on, so if you’re not feeling it, you’ve got to activate more. Then go back to straighten the elbow and get a little more external rotation and a little more supination, maintaining good alignment.

Keep driving the thumbs back. That gets the external rotation and then down. Keep trying to supinate. Keep trying to externally rotate and get deep in the shoulders to externally rotate.

It’s a really great exercise to get the shoulders back, restore good alignment, and build up good posture in the shoulder girdle and the thoracic spine.

We’ll link more resources at the end of the article to dive deeper into those topics because pain in one joint often stems from dysfunction in an adjacent one.

Exercise 4: Pronator Quadratus Activation

The fourth and final exercise to treat your tennis or golfer’s elbow is activating the pronator quadratus. This muscle wraps around the inside of your wrist.

Pronator muscles anatomy image

We’re going to activate this muscle because during the pronation movement (which is a common movement that we need in sports, especially tennis and golf), if the muscle isn’t firing properly, then some other muscles have to pick up the slack.

One muscle jumping in to help out might be the pronator teres, which starts at the medial epicondyle and wraps around the inside of the forearm ending about halfway down.

The more muscles that insert into the medial epicondyle that we rely on to do all of the work, the more stress goes through that area. That, as you probably guessed, accelerates wear and tear on the joint, eventually causing pain.

We just need to get the other muscles functioning and doing their job to take some of the stress off of this area.

For this technique, you’ll need a strength band. If you don’t have one, you can use a bungee cord, piece of rope, or even a pair of pants with the legs tied together. Anchor it to something at about hand level, and grab onto it with a palm-up grip (a supinated grip).

Get a little tension, and from there, activate your triceps and keep those triceps on with your elbow straight. That will shut off the pronator quadratus.

how to fix elbow pain - pronator quadratus exercise

  1. Start gripping the band with a little tension
  2. With a straight elbow, focus on rotating the forearm toward your body, not so much the shoulder.
  3. Hold it for 5 seconds.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.

Repeat for 4-6 reps, 2 sets on each side.

You’re activating the tricep to straighten the elbow. Keep the tricep on while pronating the forearm. Keep the bicep pointing forward but the forearm down.

Keep the shoulder girdle in a good position.

You should start to feel that on the inside of your forearm. You’re working that muscle and getting it online to take the stress off of the medial epicondyle area.

Next Steps

Do those four unique exercises every other day for a few weeks and you’ll be on the path to repairing that wear and tear to enjoy your tennis or golf game pain-free again.

This format gives you a start to our overall holistic approach on how to fix elbow pain. If you enjoyed that and want to continue learning, let’s walk through this journey together.

We have more resources that will benefit you. If you want to add more exercises, check out 5 more elbow pain relief exercises.

Finally, check out Elbow Pain Solution. That program will walk you through this approach. It goes way more in-depth with many different exercises (more than 30) in multiple phases to get everything working properly. It also starts off addressing the specific level of pain that you’re at, whether your elbow is just stiff or if it aches every hour of the day.

Thanks for sticking with us. We hope you give those exercises a try and get back to enjoying the activities you love freely and without pain.

“I found the program very informative with great advice and it answered a lot of questions that I had. I learned so much about my forearms and how important grips are.

Just to get the tension released and feel strong again in my forearms and elbows was perfect.”

Garry Johns, 43

This article was reviewed and updated on April 4, 2023  by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Erin Boynton, MD, FRCS to include new research and information on latest surgical developments. Read more about Dr. B here.

About the Author

Eric Wong (aka Coach E) is the founder of Precision Movement and has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo. He's been a coach since 2005 and spent his early career training combat athletes including multiple UFC fighters and professional boxers. He now dedicates himself to helping active people eliminate pain and improve mobility. He lives in Toronto (Go Leafs Go!) with his wife and two kids and drinks black coffee at work and IPAs at play. Click here to learn more about Eric.