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My elbows are killing me. Could it be the weight machines?

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  • My elbows are killing me. Could it be the weight machines?

    Since moving to a new condo with workout facilities, I have started working out with the Life Fitness weight stack machines. Overhead Press, Seated Chest Press, Lat Pull-downs, two positions. And, I have been making progress both in increased weight/reps, and in visible results. But my elbows and forearms hurt all the freakin' time! Last night I picked up a bag of garbage to toss, and it hurt just to pick up that light weight.
    Before this I was doing kettlebell swings and TGUs, and some dumbbell work. Never any joint problems or pain except the usual muscle soreness. The only other new varible is that the condo also has a pool, and I have begun swimming again for the first time in many years, so I guess that there are two possible causes. Any insights or first-hand experience with this problem?
    Bill

  • #2
    I've heard that one major drawback to machines is that they force you to work in the plane that the machine works in, regardless of how your particular joints are set up. Not saying this is necessarily what's going on, but maybe look into it.

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    • #3
      You can make yourself sore without machines as well. I was doing entirely too much bag work for a few months at the beginning of the year and it was making my elbows and forearms hurt all the time. I cut way back on the bag work and kept up my lifting and they pain went away. I work the bag once in a while now but nowhere near as much as I used to.
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      • #4
        Yeah, machines can be rough on joints. If I remember correctly, life fitness is especially bad.
        Lifting Journal

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        • #5
          Fair chance it is the machines but quite fixable.

          Work through the machine exercises slowly to find spots that aggravate the pain or just look problematic. Verify the elbows are in line with the force or oriented so the force goes thru the normal function of the bicep or triceps.You may have a bad alignment where you're putting a twisting force on a joint not built to twist.

          'Forearm' pain seems strange. Details?

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          • #6
            Ditch the machines and stick with the kettlebells/swimming...
            Free your mind, and your Grok will follow!

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            • #7
              You can get the best weight loss and fitness tips at Fitness protocols and I assure you will have no pain.

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              • #8
                Yeah. I screwed up my shoulder and my elbow on the chest fly machine. They got better when I switched to using just the bar and my bodyweight.
                In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

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                • #9
                  I wouldn't mess with pains like that. I shut it down for two weeks last month when a bad case of tennis elbow flared up.

                  It's crucial you locate the cause of the injury so that you can avoid or adapt for it in the future. In my case, I discovered that my tennis elbow was caused not by any exercise I was performing but by moving the pins on my homemade squat rack; they are a snug fit and the twisting that was required to take them out of one hole and fit them into the other messed up my left elbow.

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                  • #10
                    ^ this...

                    sounds like tennis elbow too. when mine flares up, im basically one armed... shutting it down for weeks is the only answer that works for me.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tcb View Post
                      ^ this...

                      sounds like tennis elbow too. when mine flares up, im basically one armed... shutting it down for weeks is the only answer that works for me.
                      +1--I've found rest is the best cure for these kind of issues. Sucks, but to continue injuring yourself is worse than missing a bit of training. Maybe try some exercises you don't do all that often that don't bug the elbow for now? Good luck recovering!!!
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                      • #12
                        There's nothing inherently wrong with weight machines if used properly. The idea that they "force" you into working in a given plane is partially accurate- but proper set-up alleviates most of that problem. Most problems similar to yours are generally caused by improper alignment when you use the machine. Almost every weight machine has a pivot point that should align with the joint where the movement takes place. Improper alignment causes stress on the joint and leads to inflammation. If you aren't sure how to align yourself properly, get a qualified trainer to teach you how. Most of the equipment companies also produce videos or photographs that show how you should be aligned in their machines.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TexasPrimal View Post
                          There's nothing inherently wrong with weight machines if used properly. The idea that they "force" you into working in a given plane is partially accurate- but proper set-up alleviates most of that problem. Most problems similar to yours are generally caused by improper alignment when you use the machine. Almost every weight machine has a pivot point that should align with the joint where the movement takes place. Improper alignment causes stress on the joint and leads to inflammation. If you aren't sure how to align yourself properly, get a qualified trainer to teach you how. Most of the equipment companies also produce videos or photographs that show how you should be aligned in their machines.

                          There is plenty inherently wrong about machines. True, proper alignment is something every machine user should practice, but the original sin of the machine is that the person doing machine exercises will never be asked to repeat these movements in the real world. That is, machine movements have no relation to real world movements, and so they are forever an inferior way to train. You take 300 lbs on your back and squat it, you could be building a house by hand in the Bosnian mountains.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TexasPrimal View Post
                            There's nothing inherently wrong with weight machines if used properly. The idea that they "force" you into working in a given plane is partially accurate- but proper set-up alleviates most of that problem. Most problems similar to yours are generally caused by improper alignment when you use the machine. Almost every weight machine has a pivot point that should align with the joint where the movement takes place. Improper alignment causes stress on the joint and leads to inflammation. If you aren't sure how to align yourself properly, get a qualified trainer to teach you how. Most of the equipment companies also produce videos or photographs that show how you should be aligned in their machines.
                            I am one of those people who you would ask to show you to use the machines properly. My gym has the full line of the latest Nautilus, the other trainers and I know the machines inside and out. I've even talked to the guy that ran the company before they were bought out by Med-fit(he looks good, but I had to move the heavy stuff for him- his body is wrecked, presumably from using machines instead of free weights). The truth is, while you can reduce the risk of injury by using a machine in the correct manner, it will never be as low as properly using free weights. People have this idea that injuries are this thing where you are lifting, and then there is this snapping noise and someone grabs a joint and screams, like in sports. In a gym of normal people, the more common injuries are overuse/repetitive injuries(almost always from machines- can't say I've ever seen it in free weights) and imbalances- where the joint is weakened by improper exercise and then an incident(often away from the gym) caused the imbalance to manifest into an injury. These essentially only happen to machine users.

                            We use machines for basically two purposes: sell memberships and train clients with serious issues like parkisons(can't balance free weights) or spinal injuries(can't load weight on the shoulder girdle).
                            Lifting Journal

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                            • #15
                              Yes! For me, every joint issue that has cropped up from strength training could be boiled down to three things:

                              1. Too much, too soon related to sets/reps.
                              2. Too much weight.
                              3. A machine. From Preacher Curls to those horrible Nautilus behind the neck pulldowns, machines are designed for a certain ROM for a certain height and build.

                              Check out Convict Conditioning. Really enjoy the workout and progressions and it fits perfectly w/ the PB fitness approach--just add some weights when you elbows get better. Nearly everyone I know that has switched has seen their joint issues go away.

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