Atomic Elbow Pain And The Kettlebell Solution

(Disclaimer.  If you’re in pain, go see a Doctor.  This is my blog and my elbow.  This works for me.  It might not work for you.  Do this at your own risk. 🙂 )

As I wrote in my previous post, I developed a sharp pain in my inner right elbow after I started using the 32 kilo kettlebell for my clean and press practice.

The solution, of course, is very simple.  Stop lifting!

Ok, stop laughing.  The solution isn’t that easy, but it’s pretty close.

As I’m not an expert on fixing elbow pain, I first went to the source, Enter the Kettlebell!
Strength Secrets of the Soviet Supermen
(page 141, to be exact), and wouldn’t you know , there was the first part of my answer.

If You Have Tweaked Your Shoulder or Elbow

“As you know, it’s your fault.  Too much, too soon, or too sloppy.

Use your judgement regarding a shoulder or elbow tweak.  If it is a minor ding that does not require medical attention, do swings instead of snatches on the light day and replace the presses with five minutes of get-ups, RKC rogram Minimum style, until you have “pumped the injury through,” as Russian lifters say.”

So a week or two spent practicing my get-ups with the heaviest kettlebell I can handle.  Wait, what?  O.K., a reasonably-sized kettlebell.

My second source for a solution was RMAX Coach Scott Sonnon, and drill # 3 from his Top 5 Best Mobility Drills For Kettlebell Lifters ( I found out that my elbow hurts right at my medial epicondyle.

First, Coach Sonnon recommends a warm-up drill that he calls the “Drill Bit.”  He describes it as:

“A closed-chain exercise for isolating elbow rotation.  Most people cannot muscularly control the internal and external rotation of their elbow.  Performing this mobility drill will help you warm-up for your kettlebell lifting, and will prime the joint for work.

Kneel down on the ground and place your hands flat on the Earth in front of you.  With your elbows locked, rotate your elbows inward so your elbow “pits” are facing each other, and while keeping them locked, rotate your elbow “pits” outward facing away from you.  Back and forth with elbows locked.”

Then, he recommends the locust drill:

“After you perform the Drill Bit for 5-10 repetitions, then you’re ready to move into the locust drill.  My variation is a “volleyball” version:  single arm, palm flat, elbow locked at your center line.  Place your elbow “pit” on the inside of your hip, to the outside of your genitals.  Push your elbow “pit” flat into the Earth using your hips.  Grip the ground with your entire flat hand and drive into the Earth to lift your leg off the ground.  Avoid using your hamstrings, glutes and lower back to lift your leg.  Use your arm to press off the Earth, and drive your hips into the back of your elbow to get full extension of your arm.

It will hurt a lot for the first two weeks, until it heals fully.  There are usually a lot of unhealthy dense attachments which you’ve developed to preventing full opening of the elbow, and as a result preventing full lubrication and nutrition to get to the tissues which require it.  Perform the CST locust drill after your kettlebell lifting, not before.  It’s too taxing.  Perform 2 sets of each arm for 30-60 seconds.  Try and exhale.  I know this sounds strange, but relax into the discomfort.”

When I was jerking and snatching a lot, I had the same elbow pain, and these two drills really helped heal the elbow joint and helped me keep lifting.

For my practice today, we performed 10 minutes of our usual warm-up followed by 5 minutes of get-ups.  I used my 24 kg kettlebell while Val used her 9 kg bell.  For 5 minutes, we performed 5 reps on each side.

After that we rested for a few minutes and then performed 4 sets of 2-handed swings for 25 reps each, with a 30 second rest between sets.

A little joint mobility work followed by the Drill Bit and Locust Drills, then into the pool to cool down.

Tomorrow?  More get-ups!

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3 Responses to Atomic Elbow Pain And The Kettlebell Solution

  1. What is the starting position for the Locust drill? Having trouble visualising what drill looks like. Are you kneeling? A video would be helpful.

  2. Yes, a video please. Nothing on the internet about the Locust drill. The interior of my elbows hurts so bad, it’s been hurting for about two months now, after snatching a lot. I’d try anything at this point.

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