Are you suffering from boxing-related elbow pain? Sometimes, it's just painful and you end up ignoring it and training through it. But, then it can progress to the point where your range of motion, strength, and ability to train are limited.
To help you get back to your top fighting form, we're going to cover everything you need to know about elbow pain from boxing. We'll explain why this common injury occurs in fighters, and what exactly it could be.
Then, we'll explain how you can go about rehabbing your elbow and training in a manner that prevents elbow aggravation from occurring - all while strengthening the surrounding muscles and tissues that are needed to remain injury-free.
Is Boxing Bad For Your Elbows?
So many boxers develop elbow pain that it begs the question - is boxing just straight-up bad for your elbows, wrists, and other joints?
The answer is no - boxing isn't inherently bad for your elbows.
But, this isn't an uncommon outcome if you don't train and recover properly. As with any sport, you are accepting the risk of injury at some point if you take boxing seriously. Are all boxers going to develop elbow pain?
Definitely not - but many will experience elbow pain at some point or another. Fortunately for you, the remainder of this guide is going to equip you with the knowledge and tools you'll need to stay in the group of healthy, pain-free boxers!
What Are The Common Causes Of Boxing Related Elbow Pain?
There are really two main causes of boxing-related elbow pain - and as you can imagine, they both have to do with throwing punches.
Sometimes your elbow pain is nothing more than the result of overuse. In other cases, you could have strained something by overextending when throwing a punch - we'll break down the differences between the two cases now.
Overuse Injuries (Tennis Elbow or Tendonitis)
In any sport or activity, there are repetitive motions. In golf, you're constantly swinging the club in the same pattern. In baseball, maybe you're throwing the ball over and over.
In boxing, though - you're throwing strikes and a lot of them. As you can probably guess, this opens the door for an overuse injury. Tennis elbow or tendonitis are terms used to describe this inflammation in the soft tissue of your elbow.
The constant stress the ligaments and joints in your elbow are placed under can eventually lead to a nagging injury that forces you to sideline yourself.
Typically, overuse injuries come on slow and can't really be pinpointed to one instance where you say to yourself "yep, I just injured myself".
Instead, they're the result of training hard for 3 months, 6 months, or even years - the longer you go without giving your body some off time, the greater probability of an overuse injury.
In order to prevent this from happening to you, we encourage you to take a look at your training - are you constantly locking out your punches, and throwing tons of strikes daily?
If so, you may want to back off a bit - at least every so often. We'll talk more about how your training factors in later on. For now, we want to talk about another common elbow-related injury - hyperextension.
Elbow Pain Caused By Hyperextending
The other common cause of elbow pain is very, very different from overuse pain - it's hyperextension of the elbow.
Unlike overuse injuries, you'll usually know right away that you did something you shouldn't have when this happens - it can be accompanied by a pretty nasty "pop" as the ligaments stretch beyond what they're capable of.
It's the result of throwing a punch too hard and locking out more than you should. To get a bit more scientific, your elbow joint will be bent beyond its normal range of motion.
When you hyperextend the elbow, you will see damage to the ligaments and the bones in your elbow - which is where the pain arises from. You'll also notice swelling, stiffness, loss of strength, and perhaps even muscle spasms in the upper arm.
How Long Does It Take For A Hyperextended Elbow To Heal?
While an overuse injury can typically be treated with nothing more than a relaxing week of endurance training, hyperextension injuries are a bit more intensive and will result in more downtime. In some cases, you'll be down and out for at least a month. But, this depends on the severity of your injury.
You'll probably need to get this injury professionally diagnosed, so make an appointment with your doctor to get an x-ray or an MRI/CT Scan. These tests will uncover where exactly the damage is along with the extent of the damage.
After being diagnosed your recommendations will be rest, ice therapy, and compression of the joint - typically with an elbow brace/bandage. From there, you'll move onto physical therapy to rehab the joint and slowly retrain the muscles and ligaments in question.
How Do I Stop My Elbows From Hurting When Boxing?
If you're currently dealing with elbow pain from boxing - stop while you're ahead and give your body the rest it's begging for. That pain you feel is a signal from your brain telling you something isn't quite right - you'd be wise to listen to it, rather than trying to train through it!
If you have a big fight coming up and you can't afford any downtime, you'll need to weigh the pros and cons for yourself as far as the risk vs reward.
Ignoring your body could lead to a more serious injury down the road, but we understand that some cards are too important for you to stop training or pull out of a fight. That's why we're here to share some advice on how you can continue training and improving your technique without the risk of elbow injury and pain!
Emphasize Injury Prevention Rather Than Treatment
If you aren't currently struggling with pain in your elbows from boxing, or you just have some minor discomfort after a heavy bag or sparring session - then consider yourself lucky.
You've sought out help sooner rather than later, which means you can quickly nip this issue in the bud by focusing on prevention before treatment is ever necessary!
Our advice is to take your recovery just as seriously as your training. You spend hours in the gym hitting the weights, jumping rope, and then focusing on technique or shadow boxing. So why not spend another 30 minutes on a cool-down routine?
Stretching immediately after your workout is the best time to do it. Do some triceps, biceps, and shoulder stretches - even incorporating some forearm stretches is a good idea.
Be sure you're getting enough calories in every day and hitting your protein goals - diet is key in helping your body recover from these rigorous training sessions. So is sleep - so make sure you get 7-8 hours a night minimum.
Other ways you can focus on energy prevention and continue training at a high level without elbow injury include deep tissue work by a licensed massage therapist and compression. This will help actively remove inflammation from the elbow joint and surround muscle tissue.
Take A Look At How You Strike
If you feel a sharp pain in your elbows every time you throw a strike, it's very likely you are overextending. You should avoid locking your arms out all the way when you throw a punch.
To lower your chances of hyperextension, focus on making shorter strikes. You may also consider using a lighter heavy bag - if your bag is too heavy for your body weight, you're going to do damage to your body with every strike you throw.
Strengthen The Surrounding Muscles - Triceps, Biceps, & Forearms
Now we get to the fun part - training your body to become more bulletproof. When it comes to elbow-related pain, you can do wonders by strengthening the surrounding muscles - that includes the triceps, biceps, and forearms.
You might not think to train your arms when it comes to being a better boxer. It's likely you just assumed these were "glory muscles" that had no real impact on your ability to box. However, that isn't the case.
These muscles aren't just for looks - they help provide cushion to the ligaments and joints in your elbow. By strengthening them, you're decreasing the likelihood of damage to your elbow.
Train With The Power Punch Pro To Prevent Pain In The Elbows From Boxing
Our final piece of advice we want to leave you with is to consider incorporating the most innovative boxing training modality currently on the market - the Power Punch Pro.
This full-body resistance-band trainer has helped over 6,000 fighters around the world become better at what they do - all while protecting your joints!
Resistance bands are far easier on your joints and soft tissue than typical training techniques like weights or heavy bag training. But the real advantage of the Power Punch Pro is in how the strength and endurance training you do with it transfers over to the ring.
Because you can shadow box with this training device on, you'll build strength in an actual boxing setting - building more explosive strength in your punches.
It also builds a stronger, more impenetrable guard. Because you're forced to keep your hands up with resistance on them, you'll find your guard is much stronger after taking the device off.
So, not only are you going to be throwing harder, quicker strikes - you'll be better equipped to fend off your opponent's punches, too.
If you've dealt with pain in the elbows from boxing, this is a must-try piece of training equipment - health is wealth, so increase your longevity in this sport and become a better fighter today!
Final Thoughts On Boxing Elbow Pain
Now that you know the main causes of boxing-related elbow injuries and what it takes to remain injury-free - you are equipped to avoid and treat them effectively.
As long as you give your body ample rest time and focus on injury prevention in your training, you can kick elbow problems to the curb for good.
And with the Power Punch Pro, you'll not just avoid elbow-related issues - you'll become a stronger, faster, better fighter. Join the 6,000+ fighters who have enhanced their skills using it!