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Elbow problem:what physical activity to practice?

The elbow is, like the knee, a highly stressed joint. Also elbow pain is not uncommon. Because you have pain in one or both elbows, you hesitate to practice physical activity. That's a shame ! Sport is excellent for physical health as well as moral health. All you have to do is choose an activity that is suitable for you. To help you, here's everything you need to know about elbow pain and what activities you can do.

Understanding elbow problems

Elbow pathologies are numerous and can lead to epicondylitis. This elbow pain is caused by an alteration of the tendons present in this part of the body. Indeed, the epicondyle is a small bony relief of the humerus placed above the elbow joint.

Elbow pain, and therefore tendon pain, can have different origins. Among them are:

  • tears and more specifically micro-tears in the tendons,
  • damage to the bone,
  • musculoskeletal disorders,
  • fractures,
  • elbow bursitis which takes the form of a round swelling,
  • rheumatoid arthritis,
  • gout,
  • osteoarthritis,
  • infection.

Elbow pain can appear overnight. This is the case if an injury is causing the pain. It is also possible that these pains are less intense but persistent. In both cases, it is important to consult a doctor in order to identify the origin of the problems and of course take care of them. Treatment may include painkillers, anti-inflammatories and sometimes even antibiotics.

Exercise with elbow pain:is it possible?

Having a physical activity when you suffer from an elbow pathology is possible provided you have the agreement of your doctor. It is obvious that if you suffer from a serious fracture and you have just had surgery, you will have to wait. If you have the approval of your doctor, you should still think about the activity. Here are some constraints to consider.

  • Avoid repetitive movements. Repetitive movement on a deteriorated elbow can lead to pain and serious health problems. If you are in pain, you should not overwork your elbow joint. This rule applies both to the practice of a sport (tennis, badminton, rowing, etc.) and to repetitive movements performed in the context of a professional activity (if you are not yet retired).
  • Avoid performing an activity without being warmed up. If you exercise too hard when your muscles and joints are not ready, the risk of pain and injury is higher. In addition to the warm-up, you must respect a period of rest and recovery after exercise and sometimes during it.
  • Avoid the cold. In addition to warming up before exercising, you should avoid exercising in the cold. Once again the risk of having an elbow problem is greater, especially if the joint is already fragile.
  • Avoid vibration. Vibrations are bad for the joints. If you have a problem with your elbow, you have to run away from them. They are rare in the practice of a sport, they mainly concern handymen and gardeners.

Physical activities that can be done with elbow pain

Even with an elbow problem, it is possible to play sports. It is even highly recommended! Which activity to choose? Here are some ideas.

Pool activities

Pool activities are incredibly beneficial if you have joint pain or problems. it can be the elbows or the knees. Indeed, in the pool, you do not feel the weight of your body. So you can move smoothly without hurting your elbow. It is possible to swim. If your elbows hurt, use a kickboard. You can also turn to aquajogging, aquabiking or aquagym.


Walking is a healthy activity that should be practiced on a daily basis. In fact, to be healthy, you need to take at least 10,000 steps a day. Why is walking beneficial? Quite simply because it does not require effort at the elbow. It is possible to use sticks for hiking. These provide good stability. Nevertheless, relying on it is not recommended.


Do you have elbow pain but your legs are in great shape? Dare to run! Choose smooth ground to reduce the risk of falling and preserve your knees.

Soft gymnastics and stretching

Soft gym is an activity that allows you to work on muscle strengthening but also on flexibility. If you prefer courses for seniors, you can do exercises adapted to your condition. They are gentle on the joints and not very intense. The goal here is to stay in shape and preserve your independence for as long as possible.

The bike

It is quite possible to ride a bicycle as a senior with an elbow problem. Of course, depending on the severity of this problem, it may be necessary to limit rides on rough roads. Choose beautiful bike paths and roads, and set your handlebars well. This must be at the right height in order to limit the strength of the arms and therefore the stress on the elbow.

Sports to avoid in case of elbow problem

If you have pain or problems in the elbow, it is imperative to minimize or even eliminate the use of snowshoes. Badminton and table tennis are less aggressive but involve repetitive movements that are very bad for the arm joint.

Sports for which the arms are used to pull yourself up are also to be avoided. This is the case with the gym and rock climbing. Activities that involve a ball are not recommended. They can cause blows and therefore injuries. If you are affected by an elbow pathology, it is also possible to make it worse.

In any case, during your visit to your doctor, it is wise to seek advice on the sports that can be practiced. If you are followed by a physiotherapist, he can also help you in your choices. Do not go beyond your abilities! If you notice that a physical exercise is too painful, stop it.