Biceps and Triceps Weakness

It’s amazing that the holiday season is already upon us, it always seems to come so fast. Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

On one of the other forums I moderate a man wrote about weakness he’s experiencing in both his biceps and triceps, plus a lot of other symptoms, but this is the primary problem. So, I decided that this would be a good topic to cover today since weakness definitely doesn’t mean you need to lift more weights or exercise more strenuously.

In order for a muscle to function properly it needs to have a lot of different aspects impacting it, but the two that we’ll be discussing is the length of the muscle fibers and nerve innervation. In order for a muscle to be strong you need to be able to have it at its longest length, which will then enable it to have full pulling power. If the muscle is already shortened by muscle spasms you have taken some of the fibers out of the pull (the ones that are tied up in the spasm) and if the nerve(s) is impinged by either the tight muscle fibers or by pressure of a bone pressing on the nerve, then you aren’t getting a clear signal sent from the nerve to the muscle. This is the case that is happening when you have weakened biceps and triceps muscles.

Let’s start all the way at the base of the front and side of your neck, with muscles called lateral and anterior scalenes. It will help you if you do an internet search so you can look at these muscles. They will press into a bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus, which ultimately become the three nerves to your upper body, arm and hand, your median/ulnar/radial nerves. Usually when the scalenes are pressing into the brachial plexus you will feel burning, numbness, and tingling anywhere from your neck to your fingers.

There is a tiny bone that is part of your shoulder blade, called the coracoid process, which passes over all three nerves and also over your axillary artery. Two muscles; the pectoralis minor and the short head of your biceps, insert into the coracoid process, and when either or both of these muscles are shortened by spasms/contractions they are pulling down on the bone and putting pressure on one or all of the nerves and possibly even the artery. This will cause the nerves to send an incomplete message to the muscles, and if the artery is being impinged you will have a circulation problem to your entire arm and hand.
Another muscle that causes problems is the infraspinatus which is located along the entire flat bone of your scapula. This muscle is one of the rotator cuff muscles and when it contracts it pulls your arm back (like throwing a ball), however if it is shortened by spasms it is pulling your shoulder blade backwards even though you are trying to bring your arm forward. This not only causes severe shoulder pain, but because of the coracoid process portion of the bone, it can also be putting pressure on the nerves and artery to your arm and hand.

There are other muscles: serratus anterior, teres minor, teres major, subscapularis, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and others that will cause shoulder pain and weakness in your arm/hand, but that would make this blog turn into a book and I already have written all about it in Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living. If you’re interested, or if you already are suffering from pain and dysfunction of your shoulder, arm or hand, then I suggest you get that book and work on all the muscles of your upper body and arm.

I don’t think you need to stop working out at the gym, and I really don’t believe that just rest will solve the problem of weakness in your biceps or triceps, but I do think that treating all of the muscles mentioned will work. It’s easy, it just takes time and focused attention to each of the muscles.

Wishing you well,


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