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Biceps Brachii – Self Care

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Here, you can find ways to get relief on your own from shoulder or elbow pain when caused by the biceps tendon (biceps brachii). You can read more about how people describe this pain and activities that typically create the problem in this post about shoulder pain or this other post about elbow pain. You can usually get lasting relief with the recommendations below unless the elbow doesn’t straighten. In that case, see your bodywork therapist.

Activities To Avoid or Change:

Avoid activities that strain or jerk the arm straight. This includes:

  • carrying too many grocery or yard bags. Or, heavy suitcases.
  • a dog or child jerking on your arm, especially jerking it backward.
  • a car hatchback jerking your arm straight upward.
  • vigorous or forceful twisting the forearm while the elbow is bent, as when putting screws into a wall.
  • flexing the elbow while repeatedly twisting the wrist, as when shoveling.
  • playing violin.
  • hard serves and backhands in tennis.

If the elbow doesn’t straighten, see a bodyworker for attention to the radial/ulnar joint. Until then, only straighten the elbow with gentle stretches.

For Temporary Relief:

A vapocoolant patch like IcyHot or SalonPas helps release the trigger point and offers a good bit of relief. Although this trigger point hurts in the shoulder or the front of the elbow, you’ll get the most relief by putting the patch over the trigger point in the middle of the biceps. If you put the patch over the focus of pain, you’ll still get some relief as well. Just not as much.

Typically better than creams

Using creams that produce a scent in this area can bother your eyes, especially while you’re working at a desk. These recommended patches produce less extraneous vapor.

The 60-quantity box of Salonpas patches is a great price. You can get it on Amazon or at your local grocery or drug store.

These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or not responding to these simple suggestions.

Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:

Double Stretch

This stretch is a great way to lengthen the biceps tendon gently and evenly. Do this while facing a mirror so that you can watch your form. Here are a few pointers:

  • Start with your hands by your side and palms facing each other. Extend your arms back while keeping the elbows straight and the arms even with each other.
  • The tight biceps will tend to wander away from the body as you extend back. Be mindful of keeping the arms even.
  • The tight biceps will also tend to bend at the elbow. Keep the elbow straight, and don’t stretch forcefully. Instead, gentle repetitions are the key to retraining movement and opening the biceps.
  • Don’t let your body bend forward. Focus the tension of movement in the shoulder and biceps.
  • Ice-and-stretch is a great way to make faster, easier progress.

Once you have opened the lateral head with this stretch, focus on the short head. To do that, fold your hands behind your hips and then turn your palms away from your hips. Continue with repetitions while watching yourself in the mirror. The short biceps will make the elbow bend as you extend. Don’t break form by letting that happen.

Classic Biceps Stretch

This is the classic stretch for the biceps brachii. There are several points worth noting.

  • Position the hand above the shoulder.
  • Keep the elbow straight through the movement.
  • Turn your body so that the opposite shoulder turns back toward the hand on the door frame.
  • Only hold the stretch for 2 seconds.
  • Be gentle with the stretch. If you are too aggressive, the subsequent stretch will be less flexible.
  • Ice-and-stretch is a great way to make faster, easier progress.

I’d love your feedback on how this works for you and any suggestions you might have.
Email me at integrativeworks@gmail.com.

Yoga Corner

Chest Openers

Many chest openers, like the camel pose, open the biceps as well. This is especially true when the forearm is supinated so that the thumb is turned out.

Short biceps are also revealed and stretched in poses that extend the elbow behind the back at shoulder level, like Warrior 2. When the biceps are a problem, the elbow will bend, or the arm will dip toward the floor.

Tight biceps are easy to spot in a class. The elbow tends to stay flexed when standing and relaxed.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.

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