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Strengthening Exercises for a Torn Bicep Tendon

author image Chris Callaway
Chris Callaway started writing professionally in 2007 and has worked as sports editor, managing editor and senior editor of "The Racquet" as well as written for the "La Crosse Tribune" and other newspapers in western Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a Bachelor of Arts in English and communications.
Strengthening Exercises for a Torn Bicep Tendon
Improper weightlifting is a cause of torn biceps tendons. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Tearing your biceps tendon is a very painful injury that results from overexertion of the muscle due to lifting too much weight or falling on an outstretched arm. Over 90 percent of all biceps tendon tears happen near the shoulder, rather than near the elbow, according to the MDGuidelines website. The pain is often sudden and sharp, preceded by a tearing or pulling sensation at the injury site.

Range of Motion

Most often, surgery is required to repair the tendon, and after about four weeks in a sling you can begin to strengthen the tendon by working on range of motion exercises -- with your doctor's approval. Start by simply holding your arms out in front of you with your palms facing upward. Bend at the elbows, simulating an arm curl exercise, bending as far as you can before straightening as far as you can. Gradually progress to doing this exercise with items such as a hammer or a soup can for added resistance, and aim for three sets of 10 repetitions each time.

Isometric Training

While the biceps tendon is still sore in the early months after surgery, you can work on light isometric training in addition to range of motion exercises. Hold your arm out like you would flex in the mirror, with your elbow at about a 45-degree angle. Flex your bicep, holding it for as long as you can. You will be promoting blood and oxygen to flow to the injured area, which will help heal the injured area without placing additional strain on the tendon.

Light Weight Training

About 12 weeks after surgery, the tendon is likely strong enough to be able to withstand light weight training. Start with low weight at low repetitions, being careful not to overexert the muscle and cause another tear, putting you back at square one. Exercises such as bench press, shoulder press and arm curls should be done to try to slowly rebuild the muscle mass in your upper arm, as it will have deteriorated over time due to the lack of use.

Getting Back to Full Strength

Somewhere between six and nine months after the injury, you should be able to expect to get back to full strength. When you can lift heavy weights with no pain, there are many exercises you can do to fully strengthen your bicep tendon. A great way to do this is by doing standing bicep curls, allowing you to hold a different weight in each arm if necessary, with the ultimate goal being to hold the maximum weight you can with each arm. Work about four to 12 repetitions if you can, to build the lean muscle mass in your upper arm.

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