T Nation

Busted Bicep

I been lifting heavy 4-6 reps for the past 6 moths and my left bicep has become extremely sore. Its progressed from a slight twinge to a deep ache. I have tried to work around the pain but now it even hurts to flex it. It hurts the worst when hoisting DBells up to do shoulder presses or Inclines (I was using 100 & 120’s respectively (I feel a stabbing pain along the biceps and directly below in the bend). As far as curls, forgetaboutit, I can still do 70 on DBells but man the pain. My question: should I just take a few weeks off completely?; or just do exercises that dont hurt the biceps including machines and raise the reps to lighten the stress to my joints while not training bis directly at all. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. This really sucks because lifting weights is my outlet for stress.

I think you should take off completely for a few days. Its better to be completely healed and then lift, and enjoy it, rather than go on and make it more difficult. good luck

Probably bicipital tendonitis. Try this test out and tell me what you find:

Extend your elbow completely in front of you as if you were 1/3 of the way through a front raise-except have the palm facing the ceiling (forearm supinated). Have someone press down on your anterior delt (bicipital groove) with one hand. With their other hand, they should resist your wrist as you try to flex (raise) the arm without bending the elbow. If I’m right, it should be tender in the bicipital groove along the superior humerus.

I had something similar happen in my right bicep tendon near the elbow joint after a very heavy set of weighted chins. I took it light for about 6 weeks and it cleared right up.

Watercress, I did the test you suggested as I too suspect bicep tendonitis and it hurts :frowning:
Now, please cure me in under 20 hours so I can do a workout tomorrow :-), oh and I’m fighting a cold so if you would fix that too, much appreciated. NOTE: there is no way I’m doing that baking soda thing ever again, I did that about 4 months ago and talk about cleaning the pipes!

Hyphnz, if you’re lucky, Tree will stop by. He gave me some fabulous exercises and rehab for a case of epicondylitis I had.

Definitely start with some Aleve (and possibly some Woebenzyme). Ice it frequently, especially after your workouts. Work around it for the time being. In other words, if an exercise hurts, don’t do it. Change the grip, the weight, the angle, or don’t do it at all.

I’ve had GREAT success rehabing my elbow by figuring out my 15-rep max and working progressively up to that number over a course of two weeks (6 workouts). It’s an injury prevention/rehab concept in HST. Something about high lactic acid levels strengthening tendon attachments. All I know is that it works!

For immunity, do some research on arabanogalactins and plant sterols and sterolins. I suffered from frequent colds. Once I started taking an arabanogalactin product, I haven’t had a cold since.

Good luck to you!!!

Hyphnz and TT,

Just wanted to chime in here on a few things:

  1. It’s a stretch to make similar recommendations for bicipital tendonitis and epicondylitis. While both are overuse issues, you’ll likely find that bicipital tendonitis will be aggravated by a lot more movements. Why? The long head of the biceps crosses both the elbow and glenohumeral joints. It’ll hurt on pretty much everything you do (I know, I’m dealing with it now!). The other thing to consider is that it’s related to stage 2 impingement syndrome, so there are also muscular imbalance issues to take into account.

  2. Primarily, you’re looking at rest and ice (3-4 times daily) as your primary treatment modalities. If you have access to ultrasound, it could help, too. Once pain has subsided a bit (I suspect you’re past the inflammation phase), you’ll want to start incorporating plenty of work for the external rotators, rhomboids, traps, and posterior delts. Plus, you’ll need to do a lot of stretching of the internal rotators. See the thread “Unstable Shoulders” for more details.

  3. I’m not an advocate of Aleve, or any NSAID for that matter. You’re putting a band-aid on an open wound IMO. It’s been covered on the forum quite a bit in the past.

  4. TT-Did you ever see my response regarding HST and lactic acid for tensile strength? Basically, there’s a correlation between lactate levels and improved collagen synthesis.

  5. Hyphnz- Like I said, I’m going through the same thing right now. In fact, I’m about to start a lower body specialization program that abstains from all upper body work except for rows, forearms, and external rotations. If you’re interested in being a fellow guinea pig, PM me and I’ll hook you up. If this doesn’t get my tater healthy once and for all, surgery is in my future (I’ve been dealing with shoulder problems for six years now).

Not to get to technical but when you say below the bend can you be more specific? Does the pain actually come from either side of the elbow on the forearm?

Tingling pain, stabbing, lightning, aching… How would you describe it?

What non weight training things make it hurt?
Shaking hands?
Twisting doorknobs?

More info will provide more insight.


Oops, mucho embarressment here. Eric, I reread your description of the pain area and I’m not sore there. I have pain in the elbow, upper forearm and lower bicep. It gets particularly sore on rows.
TT I read the thread about using negatives for tendonitis and have been using negative chins with virtually no eccentric,unsure whether this is helping as it ‘flares’ even doing o/head presses and first area of pain is in upper forearm area.
It doesn’t noticeably swell and isn’t a bother on snatch but is a bit on clean but then is fine once ‘warmed up’ to the movement and weight.
Pre workout warmup involves jump rope and multiset of 1x6 (o/head squat, snatch high pull, clean high pull, squat press, good morning, BOR) with bar only, I have no pain during this as only light weight.

Three letters for ya: A.R.T.!-You won’t believe the difference if you find someone good in your area.

Hyphnz, in the areas of exercise physiology and rehab, I’ll defer to Eric & Tree. Between the two, you’re in GREAT hands.

Thanks, Eric! No, I hadn’t. I’ll go check it out.

Typically Biceps Tendonitis related to impingement appears more in the shoulder than near the elbow. Due to the instability of the shoulder the biceps tendon takes quite a beating.

It is possible to get biceps tenonitis at the elbow, but most likely pain that low in the arm is related to the elbow, or wrist.

I must have missed the discussion on the forum about not using anti-inflammatories. In the short term they can actually do quite a bit of good. I’ve had great success using them with my patients and clients.

Band-Aid on an open wound? Isn?t that what you want to do in order to help control the bleeding?

I agree; if it’s near the elbow, you’re liking dealing with an issue involving the muscles of the forearm.

A search for “NSAIDs” should turn up some interesting debate from Steve MacGregor and Bodz. Even Cy Willson commented on it.

I’m glad that you made a point of saying “short term,” as I think that’s the crucial part of NSAID usage. If you’re going to do it, it shouldn’t be for more than four days at the onset of the injury. Beyond that, you’re impeding the long term healing process.

My band-aid analogy sucked; I admit it. I would have been better off saying “open gunshot wound.” Basically, most people who take NSAIDs do so simply as a crutch or because they can’t stand some pain. More importantly, many seem to wrongly associate no pain with being healed. In reality, this band-aid allows them to postpone actually considering what caused the injury (overuse, muscular imbalance), what to do to continue with the healing process, and how to prevent recurrence. They need to look at the big picture.

Personally, though, I’ll stay away from NSAIDs based on everything I’ve read.

By below the bend I mean the crock of te elbow or my upper forearm, as well as my lower and middle biceps, Pronated chins are all but impossible, supinated chins are possible but painfull. Basically it hurts to contract my arm (hand to shoulder) the worst such as when I bring the 100 lb dbells up to my shoulders for delt presses-like the bicep is going to rip right off the bone, but it is always sore even when I yawn in the morning and contract my arms.

All good advice, but if you can find a good ART provider, it should be an easy case. It might also be inflammation of the brachioradialis, but I would have to examine it to see.

Supersize77, yours sounds like an advanced case of what mine is. I changed programs yesterday as the one I was doing involved BOR and chins 2 times pw. I am not a strong chinner and I think this is part of the problem. I have no problems with Oly moves and started CT’s HTT program yesterday and will see how that goes.
FYI the problem is in my dominant arm, which I guess is no real surprise.

Re ART, I am 99.9% sure there are no providers in Dunedin , New Zealand :frowning:

Sorry it would be five minutes of work for me if that from the way it sounds. All the other advice is like walking insread of flying. Take it, but ART is amazing at such.
I treated Bobby Fisher today(720 bencher) for a similiar ache. His pain was gone in five minutes, and he had it for a few months.
By the way, Mike Miller did a 765 bp today, but was outlifted by an 810 bp. Sorry, I forgot the lifters name.

I seem to be confused about how to post on this board-my post do not immediately show in the thread, only when I look the next day. What gives? Anyway irondoc what is ART-a newbie question but I’ve got to learn because I’m a potential customer. What do you guys suspect is wrong, tendonitis? Iperformeed the test mentioned above but did not experiece pain from it. Also, and most importantly, can I still train with this pain, or am I at an increased danger for injuries such as a tear?

SS77, the dealy is because the forums are moderated that is the delay. The only unmderated one is the Dog Pound but you need to apply to be a member.
Re ART read this

Re training, see my post above. I am still training but have changed to less aggrevating exercises to see how it responds. If you can get ART then that would be my suggestion, there has been some really good feedback on the forum re it.

Hyphnz, thanks for the info, and the link.