Elbow bumps are the new handshake, here's why

Social media is here for the elbow bump trend, and so are top health officials.

March 06, 2020, 12:04 PM

Elbows don't belong on the basketball court, but no one is calling a foul if they're being used for greetings in place of handshakes amid the COVID-19 health emergency.

As the novel coronavirus spreads around the globe -- along with expert resources and information on preventative measures -- more people are coming up with creative ways to avoid unnecessary touching.

PHOTO: Ken Cuccinelli, right, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, elbow bumps Chairman Ron Johnson to avoid shaking hands due to the coronavirus outbreak, during a hearing, March 5, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Ken Cuccinelli, right, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, elbow bumps Chairman Ron Johnson to avoid shaking hands due to the coronavirus outbreak, after testifying during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing about pandemics, March 5, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

And so far, elbow bumps seem to be catching on as the go-to greeting.

Everyone from high-powered political leaders and health officials to professional athletes have taken on the tactic to safely say hello without making too much contact.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was appointed by the Trump administration to take the lead on the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, set a good example of the growing trend as he arrived in Washington state to meet with Gov. Jay Inslee.

PHOTO: Governor Jay Inslee greets Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the government's coronavirus task force, with an elbow bump at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, March 5, 2020.
Governor Jay Inslee greets Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the government's coronavirus task force, with an elbow bump at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, March 5, 2020.
David Ryder/Reuters

Dr. Dena Grayson, a physician and biochemist who studies pandemic threats, told ABC News she's a huge proponent of the inventive introductions.

It's OK to make a joke out of it, but it serves as a good public health reminder.

"There's so many videos circulating all over the world of people doing the foot taps and elbow bumps and I think it's fantastic," she said. "I think elbow bumps are a great alternative to handshakes because you really can't do that right now."

While there has been some levity around the cultural shift, Grayson said it's still raising awareness for folks to practice smart, healthy habits.

"It's OK to make a joke out of it, but it serves as a good public health reminder to everyone to wash your hands avoid touching public objects with your fingers, and don't touch your face or shake hands," she explained.

PHOTO: San Diego Padres players bump elbows rather than slap hands while heading into the dugout between innings of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, March 4, 2020, in Peoria, Ariz.
U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, right, bumps elbows with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont as they meet the Connecticut State Public Health Laboratory, March 2, 2020, in Rocky Hill, Conn. The Surgeon General is encouraging people to bump elbows rather than shaking hands or fist bumps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Jessica Hill/AP

Best elbow bumps on social media

Pro athletes bumping 'bows

The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team exchanged elbows with England instead of hand shakes during the first match of the 2020 She Believes Cup.

Rather than high-fives, the San Diego Padres practiced the elbow bump in the dugout during a spring training game in Arizona on Thursday.

PHOTO: San Diego Padres players bump elbows rather than slap hands while heading into the dugout between innings of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, March 4, 2020, in Peoria, Ariz.
San Diego Padres players bump elbows rather than slap hands while heading into the dugout between innings of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, March 4, 2020, in Peoria, Ariz.
Elaine Thompson/AP

OK this one may be just a nod to NHL star Jake Muzzin's fly-by elbow-five celebration, but the joke still landed with some on Twitter, and as Grayson said, it can't hurt to boast the move.

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