Your biceps are the reason you can bend your arm and touch your shoulder, and we use them every time our arm goes from straight to even a little bit bent…basically we use them 98% of our life, even while sleeping. With this much use it’s not surprising that they can stay shortened due to muscle memory. The fibers have been held short for an extended period of time and they just can’t lengthen properly. This will cause tension at both ends of the muscle so your inside elbow joint will hurt when you try to bring your arm straight out, and the tension on the other end at the shoulder is a bit more complex and far-reaching.
Your biceps have two heads (originating points), one is inside your shoulder joint. While it’s not a part of the rotator cuff, tension on this muscle causes pain deep within your shoulder joint and you may be diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury. The other head is on a tiny bone, called the coracoid process, that is a part of your shoulder blade.
The carocoid process crosses directly over your artery and all three nerves to your shoulder, arm and hand. When the biceps are tight and pulling down on the bone it puts pressure right on the nerves and artery so you may get cold fingers as the blood flow lessens, or tingling/numbness into your arm, wrist and fingers. In fact, when your biceps are pulling on the carocoid you may even be told you have carpal tunnel syndrome, so it’s worthwhile self-treating them. Even if they aren’t hurting at the moment you could easily be having other symptoms that are being caused by tight biceps and that you aren’t relating to this tight muscle. Another important point is when your biceps are in spasm you will lose strength in your arms, so treating the spasms and stretching will increase your strength.
In all of my self-treatment products, but especially in Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and TriggerPoint Yoga, I teach self-treatments for the entire body, including the following biceps treatment:
To find the belly of your biceps place your hand as shown in the photo above, where your thumb presses in will be close-to or on-top-of the belly of your biceps. This is the point that is the center of the problem. If you poke around you’ll feel it when you hit it.
Next, cross your arms as shown above and while using either your closed fist, or a ball (tennis ball or the Perfect Ball) press into the belly of your biceps. As shown above, you can use your opposite hand to help your working hand add pressure.
When you have found all the tender points and worked them out by applying direct pressure onto the muscle, then it’s safe to stretch. You can do that by just putting your arms straight out to your side and try to push them back a bit until you can feel your biceps stretching. Turn your arms so your palms are facing the ceiling. Next, rotate your entire arm so your palms are facing backward (you won’t get far), your pinky will be moving up toward the ceiling and your thumb is moving down toward the floor. Be careful to keep your shoulders down and don’t let them creep up toward your ears.
Now slowly start to turn your arms and hands forward and around, with the intention of bringing your hands to the point where your palms are again facing the ceiling. Don’t push this, do it at your own rate and enjoy the stretch as you’re doing it. It’s not meant to hurt, just feel like a good stretch.
Slowly rotate your hands back again, circling your arms so you come back to the starting position. Do this several times, slow and easy, never pushing too far.
This biceps treatment and stretch will feel great and can easily be done several times a day just to refresh your entire shoulder and arm.
Wishing you well,