Dumbbells Hurt My Palms, What to Do About It

If you’ve been experiencing pain while using your dumbbells, there are several possible reasons for this. But first, let’s dive into a bit of human anatomy. 

Your hands are a connection of ligaments and bones usually categorized into three; the phalanges, metacarpals, and carpals. 

The bones in your palm are the metacarpal bones, while those in your fingers are the phalanges. Finally, you have the carpals located on the wrist.

The purpose of dumbbells is to tone the muscles in the arms. When you look at the hand’s anatomy, ligaments and tendons connect these small bones. And when put under undue pressure, these tiny bones can begin to hurt.

Sit tight and buckle up as we explore why your dumbbells hurt your palm and what you can do to stop it.

Why Do My Palms Hurt After Working Out?

First, please give yourself a break. Training too often and not giving yourself time to rest and recover can cause pain and discomfort. 

You might also experience swelling in your hands and wrists. This is usually due to strain on the hand’s ligaments and tendons. So, rest to give your muscles time to heal, especially if you are a beginner and your body has yet to adjust to this new fitness routine.

Your form is an important point to consider as well when working out. 

You must assume proper form when lifting weights to avoid unnecessarily straining your muscles and joints. Do a few warm-ups to get your muscles ready for some action. 

If you lift heavy weights often, you can protect your palms by wearing weight-lifting gloves. They are a strong pad for your palms, relieving the pressure on them as you lift weights. 

They also increase your grip strength and stability to hold on to the weights for much longer. Moreover, wearing gloves means lifting more weight than you ordinarily would using your bare hands.

It increases the pressure your hands can handle, and you experience little to no hand pain. This way, you have a strong base for weightlifting and improve your strength training.

How To Protect Your Hands And Wrists When Lifting Weight

Weightlifting is no small task. It comes with some risks, so the results can be damaging if you fail to protect yourself and tread, so you should exercise using the correct technique.

Protective workout gear on your hands can make your workout session more comfortable. If your palms or wrists are injured, you can’t weightlift effectively.

You may also feel pain in your hands because of dead skin cells. If your palm feels really hard, you can use a pumice stone to gently scrub off some of the dead skin cells on it. 

Lastly, liquid chalk may be what you need if you’re the type that always has sweaty palms. It removes moisture from your palms, resulting in a firmer grip.

Weight Training For Beginners

Watching professional weightlifters do their thing can seem so fascinating. You may be tempted to jump in and get a piece of the action as a beginner. So you pile up barbells and dumbbells to use on your first day.

But this could become a disaster, as you could quickly suffer a traumatic injury. Weightlifting is a challenging physical activity, and you must give your body ample time to adjust.

First, always warm up before you begin each exercise. 

Stretch your body a bit with some aerobics. Next, start with light weights. Embrace the foundation stages because they build you up for the more challenging levels.

Take short rests between sets to give yourself time to catch your breath. Also, stretch your body after exercising to avoid stiff joints and muscles.

Lastly, take some time to rest in between days to allow your body to heal from all that pressure. This resting period is just as important as the exercise, if not more.

Common Types Of Hand And Wrist Injuries For Beginners

Dumbbells Hurt My Palms, What to Do About It

Accidents occur in the gym sometimes, resulting in minor or major injuries. You can manage some injuries using first aid knowledge, while some require immediate medical attention. This outcome depends on the severity of the damage.

Here are some common injuries, their symptoms, and how to avoid them:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This injury is one of the most common injuries to the wrist. Some of the nerves in your hands pass through a tunnel from the brachial plexus. 

When this tunnel becomes inflamed, you may feel a tingling sensation in your thumb and pain in your hand’s affected areas. This condition is referred to as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

You need to rest the area first to get rid of the pain. Frequent movements can worsen the symptoms, so we recommend wearing a wrist brace to keep your wrist straight and still.

Next, performing light exercises can help with the pain. 

Try bending your wrist and fingers towards the bone side. Keep the thumb away, but keep your other fingers together. It may be painful but repeat it often. 

Wrist circumduction is another helpful exercise. Simply fold your fingers into a fist, then continuously move your wrist in circular motions. A regular massage using a massage ointment can also help.


Sprains usually occur due to overuse, injury, or trauma to a particular area. They may be mild or more serious, and a ligament has most likely been twisted when they occur. Although this is not serious enough to cause dislocation, it will still cause pain.

When this part of your body swells, it limits your ability to function. It also causes you pain and discomfort, so your first move would be to reduce the swelling. Once the swelling subsides, you can perform exercises that stretch and strengthen you to improve mobility.

When experiencing a sprain, you can do a few light exercises to help the pain. Gently press the back of your injured hand to your other hand to bend your wrist. Hold it for about 15 to 30 seconds.

Next, stretch the injured hand back by pressing the fingers backward. Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds. Keep your arm on the injured side. Repeat this as often as three times or more.

An alternative is squeezing a soft rubber or stress ball. This option is a simple exercise for your fingers and wrist. Squeeze the ball for about five seconds, then release it. Repeat this as often as you can.


Tendons are structures that connect a muscle to a bone. If they become inflamed, the result is tendonitis. This injury is expected around the joints.

The most common home remedy for tendonitis is the acronym R.I.C.E. — Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. 

Compression may be warm or cold. A warm compress aids blood flow around the area, quickening the healing process. A cold compress will numb the pain and reduce the swelling.

Using a clean cloth, place the compress on the affected joints. Repeat this treatment on the affected area up to 3 times a day. 

Common Causes Of Hand And Wrist Injuries In The Gym

Inadequate warm-ups

Your body needs an introduction to your workout plan for the day. 

Start with mild aerobics, stretches, or just something to prepare your body for more challenging tasks. Going straight to the most difficult tasks is counterproductive and makes the fitness session much riskier.

Poor Exercise Techniques

Different exercises have their prescribed forms. There are proper techniques, whether machine high row exercises, dumbbell or barbell exercises like bicep curls or any form of weightlifting and resistance exercise. 

Start with light weights before building up, and study the proper form before attempting any weightlifting exercise for your safety.

Overexerting Yourself

You need to give yourself a break as motivated as you may be. Proper rest and sleep are part of the fitness process. 

Include at least one of two days in your fitness schedule to allow your body to heal. It’s the safest way to always be at your best and avoid unnecessary pain or injury.

Improper Dieting

Exercise and dieting go hand in hand. You can’t focus on one and completely ignore the other. You won’t get the best results this way. 

Eating well is also one of the best ways to prevent the same problem and risk of injury during workouts.

Weightlifting requires a lot of energy, so consume energy-rich foods like whole-grain bread or pasta. If you don’t have enough strength and exert yourself, you can develop several complications, including ulcers.

Losing Concentration

Weightlifting requires complete focus. It’s not something you should do while distracted. If you’re not in the right frame of mind to give it 100 percent attention, you’re better off trying a different form of exercise for the day.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have some questions bothering you, then check out our F.A.Q.s session.

How do I stop myself from hurting when I lift?

The acronym R.I.C.E. is a simple treatment for workout injuries — Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, you’re better off preventing these injuries. Protect your wrists with weightlifting gloves, and stretch your muscles before you begin.

Also, ease the exercise by starting with smaller weights before building up gradually. And if the pain is unbearable, you should see a doctor rule out any underlying diseases like arthritis.

Why does my palm hurt when I lift dumbbells?

The fact is that you will experience some form of discomfort when weightlifting. It’s part of the process. However, if you’re experiencing excess or abnormal pain, you have cause for concern.

Anyone can experience workout injuries, no matter the level of experience in weightlifting. It would be best to tend to your wounds promptly so they do not worsen.

How do I protect my hands with dumbbells?

Protective gloves reduce the pressure of dumbbells on your palm and make your exercise more effective. Stretch and massage your hands and wrists after a workout.

Learn the proper form or positioning for each exercise, as correctly doing it means less risk. Lastly, rest your wrists. Too much pressure with little to no rest will make them hurt.


Dumbbells Hurt My Palms, What to Do About It

Even though we think we handle every challenge, our body sometimes says otherwise. Please take a break if you’re getting any signs of excess pain or stress.

Use protective gear as much as possible, and work on your diet. Weightlifting requires a lot of energy, and food is the best way to get natural energy. Eat enough carbs, so you get good strength to weightlift.

You can also consider reducing the scale of weight you lift. Ensure you warm up always and practice good form during weightlifting. And if the pain seems too unusual, please see a qualified doctor. 

While over-the-counter medications and pain killers are helpful for small stages of pain, you shouldn’t make self-medication a habit.

Take care of your body consistently because no one knows your body better than you.

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Nathan Lloyd, MSc

I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.

If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.