The anconeus muscle is a small muscle that works along with the triceps. This means that, while it may not actually have a ton of responsibilities, it can make your life miserable with “tennis elbow.” Here’s more about this small muscle that helps determine the health of your elbow joint.
The origin for the anconeus is on the posterior surface of the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. Remember, your humerus is your upper arm bone, and epicondyles are the round nubs at the top and bottom of the bone. So, the origin for the anconeus is on the back of the rounded nub of your arm bone that is furthest away from the midline of your body.
According to the Flash Anatomy Flash Cards, anconeus inserts on the lateral side of the olecranon process and the posterior surface of the proximal portion of the ulna. The olecranon process is a little bony hook off the ulna that fits into the groove between the two bottom epicondyles of the humerus. So, the anconeus inserts from the part of the olecranon process that is further away from the midline of the body to the back part of the ulna that is closer to the midline of the body.
The main function of the anconeus is to extend (straighten) and pronate the forearm at the elbow joint. Pronation of the forearm at the elbow is a little bit trickier to explain.
Take a moment and place your forearm on a flat surface with the outside of your hand facing down. This should look like you just karate chopped the surface. Now, keep your shoulder and upper arm completely still as you turn your hand palm down. This is pronation at the elbow joint.
If your anconeus is dysfunctional, you may not be able to extend your elbow without feeling pain. This is partially because this muscle is a helper to the triceps. For this reason, it can contribute to injuries such as tennis elbow.
I always recommend that if you feel like you have injured your anconeus, contact your doctor. Your doctor can order all of the necessary imaging, therapy, and medicine to ensure that you heal as quickly as possible.
However, if you are uninterested in going to the doctor for your achey elbow, there are some things that you can do on your own. For example, have you ever seen professional athletes with a sleeve? These sleeves provide compression, help the muscle stay in the correct place, and prevent it from overuse and further injury.
Otherwise, you can try ice or heat on the painful area. Also, you should do your best to rest your elbow. Try to avoid overuse or heavy lifting.
Restoring or Maintaining Health
The anconeus is such a small, assisting muscle that it’s difficult to pick one specific exercise to strengthen or stretch only this muscle. However, any time you practice the functional movements of the anconeus, you will strengthen it. Any time you practice the opposite movements, you will stretch it.
This means that, as you straighten your elbow or rotate your palm down from the elbow, you will strengthen the anconeus. A great yoga pose to practice this movement is Sphinx pose. Likewise, Dolphin pose is another way to practice forearm pronation.
To stretch your anconeus, bend your elbow or rotate your palms to face the ceiling. A great yoga pose for this stretch is Sukhasana with your palms open. Simply place the backs of your hands half-way up your thighs and allow the chest and shoulders to open.
For those who are more interested in technical terminology and smaller muscles, I recommend Flash Anatomy Muscles Flash Cards. Any time a client comes to me with pain, I use these flash cards.
Have you ever had an injury to your anconeus? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below.
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