Last Update  On February 10, 2012
Fixing Wrist And Elbow Pain During Pull-ups

by Vladi
In this article I will present different ways to avoid, prevent and cure elbow and wrist pain during pull-ups and chin-ups. Let's start with the wrists.

Wrists Pain During Pull-ups

Wrist pain during pull-ups can be caused by many things but in my opinion number one is poor wrist alignment during the exercise. Poor alignment can be caused by one thing only - bad grip. In order to reduce the stress on your wrist during pull-ups you should not wrap your thumb around the bar. Look at the picture below and pay special attention how the wrists of the man are somewhat crooked and in poor alignment with the elbow. You are very likely to experience wrist pain if you grip the bar that way.
Having your thumbs around the bar causes poor wrist alignment during pull-ups
Solution: Just use a thumb-less grip like the girl in the below picture and your wrist will be in perfect alignment the whole time. The thumb-less grip is also helpful during lat-pull downs and machine rows but it should NEVER be used during barbell bench presses because the bar may slip and fall on your chest or even throat. However during pull-ups there is no risk.
This girl got it right.
Elbow Pain During Pull-ups

Elbow pain during pull-ups is caused in 90% of the cases either by over-training or using too close grip. In general the elbows and the wrists are small joints and they can only take so much. If you are doing too much pull-ups without gradually building to that volume you may get overuse symptoms. If this is the case simply stop doing pull-ups for 1 or 2 weeks and than build up very slowly. In general overuse injury heal extremely fast if they are caught early on and the harmful activity is stopped for a while. If you care to know what's my take on tendonitis in general check out my tendonitis story and “special treatment”.

At the same time even if you are not over-training you may still experience some elbow pain due to having too close grip and over-flexing your elbows. The close grip pull-ups make it extremely easy to over-flex your elbows and hurt a triceps. Simply use a wider grip. If you feel elbow pain during chin-ups the solution is the same.

Wrist Pain During Chin-ups

Wrist pain is more common during chin-ups due to limited wrist flexibility. For the very same reason the EZ-curl bar is so popular. The bad thing is that if you are experiencing wrist pain during chin-ups using a thumb-less grip won't cut it. The only thing you can do to solve the problem 100% is to perform chin-ups on gymnastic rings or home-made suspension system. This will be your EZ-curl bar for chin-ups. The ring chin-ups will allow your wrists to be in a chin-up position but without the extreme stress caused by the straight bar. Try it.

In general the best way to avoid pain during pull-up/chin-up type of movements is to use gymnastic rings or suspension training systems. They are much kinder to the elbow and wrist joint and will prevent a lot of injuries and random pains. Neutral grip pull-ups are also great and reduce the pain but nothing beats the freedom offered by the rings.

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