While it's always best to check with your doctor if you feel persistent triceps pain or other muscle aches, sore triceps can usually be pinned on two or three prime "suspects."
Triceps ache after a workout? Your upper arms may need more conditioning before you push them too hard. Achiness after light activity? A triceps tear from a sudden wrench or strain from overusing those muscles in your daily life may be the cause.
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Home Treatment for Sore Triceps
The first steps on the road to recovery from sore triceps are rest and pain-relieving strategies. For minor to moderate muscle aches, home treatments are fairly simple. Among the strategies for triceps pain and other muscle ailments are:
- Rest. The first 24 to 72 hours after you first experience sore triceps, keep your activity to a minimum. Take a break from sports and strength training, and don't do any other heavy lifting.
- More rest! Along with avoiding straining your arm muscles, getting enough sleep encourages healing. De-stressing during your waking hours also reduces muscle tension. If you have a hard time relaxing, consider meditation or a walk in the woods.
- Cold and heat. The first few days of tricep pain, icing the area is the most effective way to relieve aching, because cold reduces swelling. After a maximum of three days, however, a heating pad or warm compress is more likely to sooth sore triceps.
- Over-the-counter painkillers. As with ice packs, ibuprofen and acetaminophen reduce both pain and swelling. Follow the package directions for the correct dosage. If you're still in pain, your doctor may offer prescription strength versions of these medications, or another type of medication.
Perform Specialized Stretches
When you're noticing triceps ache after a workout, stretching moves in which you extend your arms in front of you or above you are most likely to target those muscles. Any triceps stretching you do should be gentle, so that you experience a pulling sensation in your triceps, without added pain.
Start with your right arm raised above your head, then bend it at the elbow with your fingertips grazing the back of your neck. To extend the stretching for your right tricep, use your left hand to gently push backwards on the right elbow. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, then switch arms and repeat the stretch.
Read more: How to Ease Muscle Soreness After a Workout
Add Strengthening Moves
Once the soreness dissipates, adding strengthening moves can help prevent future flare-ups of tricep pain. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to confirm that you're ready to work your sore muscles. Start by doing up to 10 repetitions of your chosen triceps workout. As you get stronger, you can do more reps per workout, or add a few sets of these moves during the day.
Try Traditional Pushups
A traditional pushup strengthens multiple upper-body muscles, including your triceps. The closer your hands are to one another, the more work your triceps need to do as you raise and lower your body. If this is too intense, start with your hands placed farther apart. As your upper arms strengthen, you can begin to bring your arms closer together when you do your pushups.
Add Triceps Dips
The triceps dip is another classic triceps strengthener. Use a workout bench, a sturdy bed or stable chair for support.
Sitting on your chosen surface, place your hands down near your hips at the edge of the surface, with your fingers pointing down. Push off from the surface, dip your hips and bend your arms so that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Hold for a moment and then push back up to your starting position.