I have been doing kettlebell workouts recently and I started having pain at the bottom of my forearm (right above my elbow).

Is this a common injury that indicates I am pushing too hard or doing something wrong?

Is there any specific way to recover from this pain besides just resting my arm workouts?

  • Do you have pain once the workout is over, or just when using the kettle bell? Is the pain on the inside or outside of the elbow?
    – michael
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 19:11

4 Answers 4


I've had a very similar pain after doing an intense dumbbell circuit that heavily taxed my forearms. Towards the end of the workout I got a sharp pain while doing barbell front raises -the stress is very similar on your grip/forearm as a kettlebell swing.

So most likely this is an overuse injury which causes the tendon to get inflamed. From personal experience the best cure is ice and rest. You can take OTC anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen but I never bothered myself. It takes anywhere from 3-5 days to 2 weeks or so to recover. Another thing that seems to help is massaging/doing soft-tissue work on your forearm muscles. You can just use your hand or a tennis/golf ball and go back and forth on the muscle.

To prevent injuries like this in the future:

  • Work on improving your form. As @Waquo pointed out, the way you catch the KB makes a big difference. If you are just starting out it's likely your form needs work. Spend a lot of time watching form videos, reading and practicing with light weights. You really shouldn't feel stress in your joints when you do lift. If you do, you are likely doing it wrong.

  • Warm up and stretch properly. Tight muscles and joints that aren't warmed up are more susceptible to injuries. Even if your whole body is warm a specific joint group might not be if you didn't specifically target it. For this reason always start your exercises with light weights and ramp up slowly. This will give you the added benefit of practicing and perfecting your form.

  • Avoid doing repetitive movements or taxing the same joint group over and over. This is especially true if you have any kind of injury/inflammation. Increasing your rest time, alternating antagonist movements, switching up heavy and more volume sets all will decrease the chance of injury and allow the system to recover better.

  • Strengthen supporting muscles so they take over some of the work. As you can see the forearm is made up out of complex muscle groups, which often acts synergistically to balance and support the weight. Having a muscular imbalance can lead to specific muscle systems getting over taxed. There are a lot of forearm movements you can do to supplement your workout. You don't have to do all of them, just experiment and see if you find that you have any weaknesses or imbalances that need to be addressed. Start extremely light and don't over do it, since you can potentially replicate the same problem.

  • Finally, be patient. Training is hard and stresses the body. Sometimes you can be overzealous and end up with a minor injury. Take a step back, recover and go back slowly. Always make sure to always stop lifting if you feel any sharp pain and remember training is more about overall consistency not about pushing yourself to the limit for a few workouts.


See a doctor, physical therapist, physician's assistant or kettlebell instructor. (Or all of the above, preferably.) Get your specific medical issue addressed. Fix whatever form issues you have, whether related to the pain or not.

Without attempting to diagnose you over the internet via a one-sentence description of your problem, I'd bet that you have some form of overuse injury or tendon inflammation. It's also possible that you have gangrene or elbow gnomes. I'm not a doctor and diagnosis over the internet is inexact.

See a medical professional, see a fitness professional, get better, fix your form, get back into the workouts slowly.

  • Gangrene? Seriously? What makes you think that?
    – mike
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 16:42
  • I was being facetious in pursuit of my point that A) he has not described his situation or symptoms to a useful degree of specificity and B) even with more detail, diagnosing a situation like his over the internet is inherently a difficult medical task. You can tell I'm not being serious by my use of the term "elbow gnomes", which are creatures of pure fantasy. Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 16:49
  • 1
    Elbow gnomes are very serious...
    – mike
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 17:33

It seems to me that your getting a tennis elbow. You get this by loading your elbow too hard too long. In short it means inflammation of the elbow and the surrounding muscles...

In my opinion you should let your elbow rest and keep it cool as much as you can. Also you should consider taking a light anti-inflammation medicin. You should really feel a difference after about a week or so.

Hope this helps you out!



Your description is rather vague, I can't even tell if the pain points to a problem with a muscle or with connective tissue (like the mentioned tennis elbow).

One thing I do remember Pavel emphasize is that when you catch the kettlebell in a ballistic movement (like the lowest point of swings, cleans or snatches), you should do it with the arm fully extended (triceps flexed), or you might hurt your elbow.

I usually have slight elbow-pain* when I take a long break from kettlebells and then start again. I then take it a little easy (especially with snatches), and it goes away. Something seems to need time to adapt.

*haha, I'm just as vague

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