In general, the age range of individuals most likely to sustain a torn biceps muscle is 40-60 year olds. If the tear is near the upper part of the biceps, near the shoulder, the cause is most likely overuse. Tears near the elbow are generally due to an unexpected amount of force (for example, someone trying to break a sudden fall) or during forceful pushing motion.
Partial tears usually heal within 3-6 weeks. Full tears require surgery and may take 4-6 months to heal. You should not resume regular training. You should only resume regular training when you experience no pain throughout your full range of motion and have normal upper arm and shoulder strength.
Rehab to Return Full, Functional Range of Motion (FROM)
It is essential for you to return both the shoulder joint and elbow joint to full FROM prior to returning to strength training or whatever activity you were doing prior to the injury. To increase flexion (bending) of your elbow, use your biceps as much as you can. Continue to flex your elbow and then use your other hand to give some extra force to increase ROM. To restore FROM on the extension of your elbow, hold your arm straight out by using your triceps. Use your opposite hand to gently, grab your wrist, and pull back until you feel a slight stretch on both your upper arm and forearm.
Be cognizant of the type of pain you might feel. There is acute pain, which you can tell is doing more damage to your damaged muscle fiber. Then, there is a much duller pain, that lets you know you are effecting some damaged tissue, but not causing additional damage. Be sensitive and perform:
- Triceps Push Downs
When you go back to working out:
- Take Longer Warm-Up times, especially when you are cold
- Do not increase any of the F.I.T.T. Factors: Frequency, Intensity, Time or Type for any exercise involving the biceps or shoulder muscles by more than 10% per week.
- Wear sports specific equipment/wraps/braces to protect arms and shoulders
- Be extremely cautions with your form and technique
Include these exercises into your Warm-Up:
- Squeeze/Release: Squeeze and release a stress ball for 2-3 minutes, every other day. Do not overdue, as it can make symptoms worse. Perform this exercise in a pain-free manner.
- Wrist Rotation: Hold a light weight in one hand and turn your palm up to the ceiling (supination). Then, turn your palm so it is facing down to the ground (pronation). Complete these movements slow and controlled. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions, every other day.
- 4-Way Forearm
- Triceps Push Downs
If you are patient and take the appropriate time to rehabilitate your injury, you can return to full strength!
Dr. Jim Bell