T Nation

My Bicep Won't Heal


I had a partial tear, not in an attachment, but a tear in the muscle belly, about 1 1/2 - 2 years ago. Partial, but deep. And inch deep, at least.

Were it an attachment surgery would have been available, but with a tear in the mucle belly it was basically a matter of taking enough time to let it mend, according to my doc.

Trouble is that it just doesn't really heal. Partially, but not really. I tried DB rows with just 35 kgs today, and on the 12th rep it felt like something in my bi was about to snap. A sharp pain. I've been doing machine rows for a while, and thought I was ready to dig in on the free weights again, but apparently not.

So I'm basically asking for tips here. My protein needs are more than met, but I don't eat nearly enough greens. I eat fish a couple of times a week, but don't take any fish oil supps atm. I'm 43, BTW.


Talk to DBasler…


Thanks. Will be reading up.


Mine was a full tear of the distal bicep tendon which I had to have surgically repaired so it sounds like we have different issues. I will say that after it happened and before I went to the doctor I did a couple of easy workouts and doing a set of barbell rows it what convinced me I still had a major problem and needed to get it checked out.

Gorilla Vanilla also had bicep surgery but I’m pretty sure his was a tendon tear as well. I think I would get a second opinion from another doctor and I’m assuming you have had an MRI on the arm already, if not you definitely need to get one done and have a good surgeon evaluate the results.


Thanks, DBasler. Yes, we have different issues, as you say.

I had an MRI done at the time, and the tear was very much visible. ‘Rest and let it heal’ was the consensus. And I really did.

One doc suggested that I get on an ellipsis machine on a regular basis, w/very low but deliberate resistance on the injured arm, plenty of hydration, and get a good blood flow going, in a very gradual ‘progressive resistance’ kind of way wrt the bi. That actually helped, though it may sound odd.

It’s probably time to get another MRI done, though. To see what things look like now.

The tissue has healed enough that it looks like a ‘normal’ bicep again, and it’s able to handle normal, everyday tasks, and some resistance at the gym.

Problem is that as soon as I try to push the envelope with stuff like rows or curls in any serious way, it threatens to give in.

I guess I’ll have to stick with high reps on machines and some careful DB work for the unforeseeable future. Keeping the blood flow going, if not much else.

I actually had a partial tear in my right hamstring when I was in my early 20’s (not nearly as deep, though, but still), and that healed rather quickly. Not going to say that I’m ‘old’ at 43 or anything, but I kinda see a connection there :wink:


Another MRI sounds like a good plan. The surgeon told me that if I didn’t get the tendon repaired I would be able to do everyday tasks but the arms range of motion would gradually decrease and lifting heavy would become more difficult and more painful as time went on.

Based on what you were told it sounds as if the muscle belly tear has the ability to heal on its own but based on your pain it doesn’t sound like it has, or at least not fully. I can tell you that I’m a little more than five months removed from surgery and I’m back to full strength so if the MRI leads to a suggestion of surgery, if the surgeon gives a good prognosis for full recovery, it’s worth strong consideration.

Good luck!