Sore Tendons After a Biceps Workout

Man lifting weights at gym
Overtraining your biceps may lead to tendonitis. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Biceps training is an important part of any bodybuilding program, and it is essential if you want defined, sculpted arm muscles. However, after a biceps workout, you may occasionally feel soreness in the tendons around the muscle. If this occurs, it's important that you know why it happens, how you can treat it, and the measures you may take to avoid having it happen again.

Tendonitis

The soreness you feel is likely the onset of either biceps tendonitis or medial epicondylitis; the latter condition is more commonly known as golfer's elbow. If it's biceps tendonitis, then you will experience the soreness on the front of your upper arm, where the biceps meet the shoulder. If it's golfer's elbow, then the pain will be on the inside of your elbow joint. Both of these conditions involve pain, stiffness and inflammation, which worsen during and after workouts.

Causes

Biceps tendonitis and golfer's elbow are both overuse injuries and caused by doing repetitive, strenuous movements regularly over a period of time. Biceps tendonitis is usually brought on by doing too many overhead exercises. While your biceps workout may not involve any overhead exercises, if you perform a lot of bench presses and overhead presses during your other workouts, you may find that your tendons suffer when you train your biceps directly. Golfer's elbow is caused by excessive forearm flexion, which happens when you perform any curling movements.

Treatment

The first step in treating tendonitis is to cease performing any activities that cause the onset of soreness or pain, and rest the area for about three weeks. Before you start training again, try some light stretching on joint movements to check that there is no pain; then begin training, using light weights and not taking any exercises to the point of failure or poor form. If the pain continues, see a doctor or physiotherapist, who can refer you for further treatments such as active release technique or sports massage.

Prevention

Once the soreness has completely subsided and you have started training again, remaining injury free is vital. To prevent the muscles and tendons from becoming tight, regularly stretch after every workout and don't use weights that are too heavy. Using weights that are too heavy causes you to use bad form. If any exercise causes the pain to start again, immediately cease performing it and find an alternative exercise. Regular sports massage may also help to keep your tendons free of injury.

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