Elbow Pain Exercises for Seniors

Arm and elbow workouts for seniors include exercises to improve elbow pain. Studies have shown that athletes that perform a strengthening program had a lower injury rate when compared with athletes not performing an exercise program.

As with any exercise program, gradually progress the exercises to avoid soreness or being discouraged. This is very important when beginning elbow pain exercises. Perform each exercise correctly and slowly.

  1. Front and Side Arm Raises.
  2. Palm Knuckle Shoulder Touch.
  3. Zottman Curl.
  4. Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension.
  5. Forward Punches.
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Make sure to warm up your upper body before any strengthening program for the arms, shoulders, or back. This is usually done with limbering movements of the arms like arm circles, shoulder rolls, and wrist circles. The purpose of a warm up is to improve range of motion in the joints, increase your heart rate, and warm up the muscles.

Exercise 1

Front and Side Arm Raises. Begin seated in a chair, scoot toward the front, lift the chest and raise the chin. Either use light weights, water bottles, or the weight of your natural arms for the exercise. First hold the water bottles with arms hanging by your sides. Raise your bottles forward until your arms are shoulder high in front of your face. Lower the water bottles to the starting position. Then raise the water bottles to the side, stopping at shoulder level. Then return to the starting position. This is one repetition. Don’t hold your breath, keep your shoulders relaxed and chest raised. It is important with this exercise to avoid heavy weights due to the possibility of injuring your rotator cuff. Light weights or no weights are best. repeat 10 times.

Exercise 2

Palm Knuckle Shoulder Touch. Begin seated in a chair, scoot toward the front, lift the chest and raise the chin. Extend your arms out in front of your face at shoulder height. With elbows fairly straight, bring your knuckles together, then palms together, then bending your elbows, touch your shoulders with your fingertips. Return to the starting position with your arms out in front. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 3

Zottman Curl. Begin seated in a chair, scoot toward the front, lift the chest and raise the chin. Hold water bottles or light weights in your hands at your sides with palm facing forward. Slowly bend your elbows and raise the weight to your shoulders. Then rotate your palms toward the floor and slowly lower your hands to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 4

Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension. Begin seated in a chair, scoot toward the front, lift the chest and raise the chin. With your fingers together like you were holding up the stop sign, interlock your hands together. Position your hands at chest height with elbows raised. Begin pulling from each direction, tensing your muscles. Hold for 10 seconds, relax shake your arms, repeat 10 times. Add the dynamic part during your pull phase by moving your hands side to side slowly.

Exercise 5

Forward Punches. Begin seated in a chair, scoot toward the front, lift the chest and raise the chin. Hold your water bottles or light weights in your hands at chin height. Quickly extend one hand fully forward and return, then extend the other hand fully forward and return, alternating a forward punch. Stay in control with this exercise. Keep the weights high at chin level with each return. Breath continuously during the exercise. Repeat for one minute.

An important part of a rehab program, especially if you have pain, is to add ice after your exercises to avoid any elbow pain. Gel packs are a great option to cool your elbow after a workout. Use a thin towel underneath the ice to protect your skin and place the ice on the elbow for 10 to 15 minutes. There is no benefit with icing any longer than this. Try ice at least 3 times during the day to prevent and increase in your elbow pain.

Be patient with your elbow pain. It may take several months to improve with your gradual progressive exercise program. You will not see results overnight. Consistency is the key to improve your strength, mobility, range of motion and reduced pain.

During the day try to avoid any activities that increase your pain. Sometimes this is difficult due to your job requirements. Take a break every 20 minutes if you have a desk or sitting job. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, or roll your shoulders up, back, and down to loosen your upper body and relieve tension.

You can modify exercises in three way. First you can reduce the number of repetitions of a exercise. Instead of 10 reps, perform 5 at a slower pace. Reduce the weight. Use the weight of your arms instead of a water bottle. Reduce the range of motion. Don’t reach to the ceiling with an overhead exercise, simply bring your arms to your ears.

Once your arms become strong with consistent exercises, you can reduce the number of exercise sessions to 2 or 3 times a week. You must strengthen at least a minimum of 2 times a week to maintain your strength. Shoot for 150 minutes of weekly exercise and at least 2 days should be strength building.

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.