Strengthening Your Elbow: Rehabilitation Exercises for Elbow Instability

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Elbow instability happens when the muscles and ligaments surrounding the elbow joint get weak or damaged due to injury, age, or medical conditions. Moving the arm can cause pain or discomfort and make everyday tasks hard.

Thankfully, there are several exercises you can do to help strengthen the muscles and tendons around the elbow joint. This provides good stability and reduces the risk of future injuries.

This article will explore some effective exercises that can help strengthen your elbow and reduce pain and discomfort. We will also discuss the cause, symptoms, and diagnosis of elbow instability.

Cause, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Elbow instability or chronic elbow instability can cause different symptoms, such as:

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the elbow joint when moving the arm
  • A feeling of the joint catching or locking when moving the arm
  • A sensation of the joint being loose or wobbly
  • Pain or discomfort when moving the elbow or doing everyday tasks
  • A feeling that the joint is sliding out of place

These symptoms can be mild or severe and worsen over time if not treated. Elbow instability can also lead to more severe conditions like arthritis or chronic pain.

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor. Your doctor or healthcare provider can check you and do imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI to determine if you have elbow instability and what is causing it.

With proper treatment like rest, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery, many people with elbow instability can improve their symptoms and regain strength and movement in the affected joint. However, each person’s condition is different, and the outlook depends on the severity and cause of their elbow instability.

6 Elbow Strengthening Exercises for Elbow Instability

1. Isometric elbow flexion

Elbow Instability exercise: Isometric elbow flexion
  • Sit up straight at a table with your hands placed underneath, palms facing up
  • Raise your hands straight up as if you’re trying to lift the table
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds
  • Release and repeat the movement 10 times
  • This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles supporting your elbow joint and improve its stability.

2. Isometric elbow Extension

Elbow Instability exercise: Isometric elbow extension
  • Sit straight at a table with your hands on the surface, palms facing down.
  • Push your hands down on the table as if trying to push it away.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Release and repeat the movement 10 times.

3. Bicep Curls

Bicep Curls
Bicep Curls step 2
  • Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees slightly bent.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing forward and arms fully extended at your sides.
  • Slowly bend your elbows, curling the dumbbells towards your shoulders while keeping your upper arms stationary.
  • Pause briefly at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the dumbbells to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions for 3 sets

4. Tricep Extensions

Tricep Extensions step 1
Tricep Extensions step 2
  • Position yourself either standing or seated, holding your free weight by your side.
  • Raise the arm overhead, with the elbow remaining in a bent position.
  • Slowly extend and straighten the elbow as far as you can, then return to the bent position (keep the arm overhead).
  • Repeat 10 repetitions for 3 sets.

5. Forearm Pronation

Forearm Pronation
Forearm Pronation
  • Begin seated in a chair with the elbow supported on a surface (e.g., kitchen table).
  • Position the forearm and wrist so that the thumb is facing the ceiling.
  • Slowly turn the forearm until the palm faces down towards the surface, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10 repetitions for 3 sets.

6. Forearm Supination

Forearm Supination step 1
Forearm Supination step 2
  • Begin positioned just like you were for forearm pronation.
  • This time, slowly turn the forearm until the palm faces up towards the ceiling, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10 repetitions for 3 sets.


Elbow instability can be complex and painful, but there are rehabilitation exercises that can help you. Doing these exercises correctly and regularly can relieve pain and discomfort, increase flexibility, improve blood flow to the affected area, and promote healing.

It is important to see a doctor if you have any symptoms of elbow instability, as early diagnosis and treatment can help stop further complications. By taking care of your elbow and doing these exercises, you can regain strength and stability in your joint, making everyday activities easier and more comfortable.

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