Biceps tendonitis is an inflammation of the upper part of the biceps tendon where it attaches to the shoulder. Symptoms typically manifest in the form of pain and weakness localized to the front of the shoulder and upper arm. It is commonly treated with rest, medication and rehab exercises. If you suffer from biceps tendonitis, consult your physical therapist to design a rehab program best suited for you.
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Biceps tendonitis commonly presents with decreased extensibility of the upper arm musculature. An essential component of a biceps tendonitis rehab program is to increase muscle elasticity and pain-free range of motion at the joint. Gentle stretching exercises should be initiated when acute pain symptoms have subsided. Commonly prescribed exercises include the towel stretch, flexed-elbow pull and biceps stretch. Each stretch should be held for 10 to 15 seconds and performed approximately six times. In order to prevent further injury, always perform a five- to 10-minute warm-up prior to stretching and stay within pain limits.
Weak musculature, overuse and intense physical activity have been known to cause biceps tendonitis. Strengthening exercises are prescribed to condition the musculature and alleviate symptoms while preventing future injury. Progressive strengthening exercises should be initiated when acute pain symptoms have subsided. They should focus on increasing the strength of the biceps, shoulder and arm musculature. Typical strengthening exercises include biceps curls, triceps extensions, shoulder internal rotations, shoulder external rotations and rows. Perform approximately two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions for each exercise. In order to prevent injury, perform strengthening exercises after warming up and stay within pain limits.
The primary objective of a biceps tendonitis exercise program is to allow for return to sport or normal activity in a timely and safe manner. Returning to your recreational activity prematurely can worsen the injury and result in long-term damage. Activity-specific exercises can be initiated once an individual is near full recovery. Recovery rate varies by individual and is based upon healing of the tendon as opposed to the amount of time that has elapsed. Full recovery is characterized by normal range of motion, lack of pain and biceps strength comparable to the uninjured arm. When this is achieved, you may engage in exercises specific to your recreational activity of choice. Begin by breaking down components of the activity and slowly progressing to your previous activity level. It is still essential to perform your strengthening and stretching program at this point in order to prevent an exacerbation.