T Nation

How to Prevent a Bicep Tear

Considered posting this in injury section or strongman section (since tearing a bicep in strongman is pretty much a rite of passage), but powerlifters tear their biceps plenty often, and this forum gets way more traffic than the other two.

So any ideas?

Most people will probably say “switch to hook grip”, which is fine; a lot of bicep tears do happen on deadlifts. But is there anything that can actually be done prehabilitation wise to minimize the risk of occurrence during anything, be it deadlift, curls, atlas stones, bench press, etc?

Tons of light, high volume curls perhaps? No direct bicep work? Never using full ROM on curls? Always using full ROM on curls? Certain kinds of movements like hammer curls?

Just wanted to crowd source this question. I’ve had a bit of a bicep injury on my right side in the past, and it’s never quite felt the same. I keep thinking like it’s just a matter of time, and I’m doomed to wait for the inevitable SNAP.

Voodoo bands work wonders.

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:
Voodoo bands work wonders. [/quote]
Thanks man. One of my friends actually was just talking about using these the other day. I’ve never really thought much about them, but after a little research, I am kicking myself for not trying them sooner. Will give these a shot on multiple joints.

Maybe bicep tears (any muscle) happen because of physiological predisposition? Similar to someone with long hamstrings who is ignorant on such a subject that stretching the muscle with good intention, yet tears the hamstring and has no idea why it happened. Maybe likewise, a long/loose bicep muscle, or an athlete with overly dominant biceps (kyphosis maybe) is not doing any kind of preventative maintenance such as stretching opposed muscle groups that would aid in muscle balance, thus cause an injury in training.

Perhaps that idea coupled with maybe some event or awkward action that caused the bicep to be strained without you realizing, and you trained hard and blah blah blah all this shit lines and bam boom pop?

Also, to my knowledge, you’re more prone to injuries if you’re using steroids because by chance, your body might need a break, but your muscles recover so fast that you can train just as hard the next day without even realizing your tendons and joints are fried.

If the first paragraph is part of the reason why, which I believe it might just be, then there needs to be a very meticulous fashion of which we go about our preventative maintenance. We know for a fact that people are effected by these genetic predispositions or absurd life styles that will literally changed our physiology, so it would come as no surprise that the bicep, like any other muscle would attest to this.

A variety of factors here:
-Dehydration
-Muscle Imbalance
-Drugs (any kind)
-Terrible Form

I believe the solution to this epidemic, or cure for the paranoia is to learn as much about YOUR body as you can and take preventative steps every day to lessen the chance your bicep 'splode.

Ultra high rep curls seem to work for a lot of people. As always, you can try keeping your tendons and ligaments healthy by doing simple shit like icing and taking an anti-inflammatory (whether it be ibuprofen or fish oil). If your tendons are constantly inflamed and just feeling shitty, then I would think they would be more likely to have a major injury like a tear. No science, just logic.

[quote]black_angus1 wrote:
you can try keeping your tendons and ligaments healthy by doing simple shit like icing and taking an anti-inflammatory [/quote]

in fact its quite the opposite, the inflammatory process is vital for tendon and ligament repair/growth, anti inflams are the worst

I have done quite s bit of research since suffering a full distal tear of my left bicep at s meet on February 16th which was surgically repaired on March 7.

I had a great training cycle leading up to the meet but didn’t pay nearly enough attention to my weight and ended up having to dropping over 14 pounds in 36 hours through starving and dehydrating myself. I then tried to rehydrate in approximately three hours prior to lifting.

I have done push pulls in the past but entered a division NASA has called power sports which is a curls plus a push pull because I have fairly strong arms and figured why not. The injury occurred when I was bringing the weight down and almost at lockout on my final curl attempt with 154 lbs.

Both surgeons I talked to as well as a couple physical therapists said that more often than not when they see bicep tendon tears done lifting they are from the eccentric portion of a curl. This is just the general population and not necessarily powerlifters or strongmen competitors.

My guess is that dehydration had something to do with my tear but according to everyone I spoke with my injury was pretty typical in that it was in my dominant arm and at 45 yrs. old I was right at the low end of the typical age range of a 45 to 65 year old male.

While the injury suckd I’m proud to say I didn’t quit the meet after it occurred and was able to bench 336 lbs. and pull 512 lbs. at a weight of 182 after which I passed out right on the platform which I attributed to likely being dehydrated but my surgeon said was probably more a result of my body reacting to blocking the pain.

I read somewhere (may have been on T-Nation, IDK) but the author was stating that they could have one extend their arms out and it was something like if the arm stopped short of a full extension that person would have a higher likelihood of tear the biceps but if the person could hyperextend the elbow to some degree they had “longer biceps” and the likelihood of injury was way lower. I’ve spent the last 10 min “googling” that with no luck, but I swear I read that. It may very well be bullshit but I thought I’d throw this out there in case someone else read anything like this.

IDK man, I think most of the injuries I’ve had and witnessed could be chalked up to “operator error”. For example I was in a bad ass gym in Norfolk called Brute Strength playing with atlas stones. One of the gals who worked there casually walked over and told me that I should quit what I was doing because what I was doing leads to a high likelihood of a torn biceps tendon. She then coached me on how to do it properly.

I’ve seen guys tweak their biceps doing Dl with a mixed grip because they tried to curl 400+ pounds when they were straining to lock the weight out and I’m sure we all have done it at some point. IDK man, maybe we need to reconsider using straps more and using a double overhand grip then train grip separate.

This is not a prehab thing but I often read and hear that you should switch to the mixed grip only on your heavy sets, working double overhand on warm-ups and lighter work sets. To me it doesn’t make sense to only use mixed grip there, seems like the bicep tendon should acclimated to the supinated motion on lighter sets. Plus you have more chance to fuck up your set-up on the heavy sets if you didn’t “pratrice” setting up with the mixed grip. I know some PLer warm-up for the DL with straps and mixed grip from the start at meet.

[quote]PHGN wrote:
This is not a prehab thing but I often read and hear that you should switch to the mixed grip only on your heavy sets, working double overhand on warm-ups and lighter work sets. To me it doesn’t make sense to only use mixed grip there, seems like the bicep tendon should acclimated to the supinated motion on lighter sets. Plus you have more chance to fuck up your set-up on the heavy sets if you didn’t “pratrice” setting up with the mixed grip. I know some PLer warm-up for the DL with straps and mixed grip from the start at meet.[/quote]

EXACTLY! I don’t understand why you would pull DBL overhand, then randomly put your biceps under so much strain with however much you’re deadlifting on heavy sets. Oh well, ideas come and go and blah blah lalalala, I just choose to live and learn. May seem cocky, but there’s literally nothing finite in anything in life. There’s facts for one thing, then something new comes up. Do your best.

[quote]PHGN wrote:
This is not a prehab thing but I often read and hear that you should switch to the mixed grip only on your heavy sets, working double overhand on warm-ups and lighter work sets. To me it doesn’t make sense to only use mixed grip there, seems like the bicep tendon should acclimated to the supinated motion on lighter sets. Plus you have more chance to fuck up your set-up on the heavy sets if you didn’t “pratrice” setting up with the mixed grip. I know some PLer warm-up for the DL with straps and mixed grip from the start at meet.[/quote]

I’ve read this quite a few times as well, but it’s always been in the context of improving grip strength. By sticking with double overhand as long as you can while working up, presumably your grip is trained more on the warm up and light work sets.

Completely agree that if your concern is a bicep injury, it makes little sense to work up double overhand and then switch to mixed grip only when it gets very heavy.