How to Rehab the Tricep Muscles

A woman is doing a modified push up.
Image Credit: undrey/iStock/Getty Images

The tricep is a powerful muscle that is engaged when you push your hands away from your body. Because of the continual use and stress placed the tricep, injuries occur often. Tricep injuries result from taxing the muscle with repetitive movements, as well as from overloading with heavy weight bearing. Therefore they occur often in people involved in weightlifting and in sports or jobs that require repetitive arm motions. It is good to know what preventive measures to take to avoid tricep injury; but if an injury does occur, a number of rehabilitation techniques can help.


Purpose of Rehab

Most tricep injuries can be rehabilitated. Muscle rehab programs are designed to return muscle function and performance to their levels prior to the injury. Atrophy, swelling and pain are normal results of a tricep injury. As a precaution, you should not attempt rehabilitation exercises if you are still feeling pain from your injury. Post-injury rest is an important ingredient in the rehab process. Depending on the degree of the injury, additional medical treatment may be required before actual rehabilitation begins. Do not rush the process. What is most important is that you complete your rehab with sufficient muscle strength, flexibility and function to get back to your activities without injuring the tricep again.


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The Towel Tricep Stretch

Muscle flexibility is a crucial element to the rehabilitation of any muscle injury. Many tricep injuries are caused by repetitive arm movements. An injured muscle usually becomes rigid and less flexible. Therefore, stretches to regain and improve tricep flexibility are a must. To do the towel tricep stretch, stand with the injured arm over your head while gripping the top end of the towel. Place your other arm behind your back, gripping the bottom end of the towel. Gently pull the bottom end of the towel toward the floor. This will stretch the tricep of the top arm. Maintain the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat this stretch three to six times.


Modified Pushups

Modified pushups are used to gradually strengthen your triceps by allowing you to limit the amount of body weight applied to the exercise. Begin by getting on your hands and knees. Keep your hands in line directly underneath your shoulders. Slowly lower yourself toward the floor, and slowly push yourself back up to starting position. Keep the movements very smooth without strain or pain. Continue the exercise and build up to doing two sets of 15 repetitions with ease. Throughout the exercise, pay close attention to keeping good form. Continue as long as you can do so without pain.


The French Press

As you progress in rehabilitating your tricep, you will be able to add some light weight resistance to your program. The goal is to gradually rebuild strength, and the French press helps with this. Sit in a chair while holding a lightweight dumbbell with both hands. The grip should be similar to the grip used to hold a baseball bat. Press the dumbbell up over your head, and hold the weight in that position for two seconds. Slowly flex both elbows and lower the weight down to the base of your neck. Slowly press the dumbbell back up to the starting position to complete one repetition. Be sure to keep your elbows pointing up and forward. Complete two sets of 10 repetitions.


Ice and Rest

After each rehab workout, it is important to apply ice to your tricep. Ice keeps any swelling down and also helps eliminate minor aches. During your rehabilitation period, you should apply ice to the tricep for 20 minutes three times daily. Be sure not to overwork your muscle. Overtraining can do more harm than good in the rehab process. Rest is as important as the actual workout and allows the tricep to properly recover.



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