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The Best 7 Bicep Tendonitis Exercises and Stretches

Dr. Pamela Mehta, MD
Shoulder Surgeon in San Jose

Dr. Pamela Mehta is an experienced shoulder surgeon renowned for her expertise in sports injuries and shoulder conditions. She is the founder of Resilience Orthopedics.

With an impressive career and training under leading innovators, she has served as Chief of Orthopedics and National Orthopedic Director for a major orthopedic hospitalist group and advises several publicly traded companies.

Pamela Mehta

Why Exercises for Bicep Tendonitis Are Key to Recovering

We usually don’t think about our biceps unless we’re working out, but they’re important for many daily movements like lifting, reaching, and pulling. Sometimes your biceps can get injured, leading to conditions like bicep tendonitis. This can make simple tasks like opening a door or carrying groceries feel hard.

You can treat biceps tendonitis in several ways, with the help of your doctor. For example, stretches, ice packs, and strengthening exercises have been shown to help athletes with shoulder issues. Bicep tendonitis rehab exercises and stretches help with:

  • Faster recovery
  • Less inflammation and shoulder pain
  • Improved muscle balance and strength

If you’re looking for guidance on treating your condition, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go through the top exercises and stretches for biceps tendonitis.

Note:

  1. If any of these exercises cause increased pain, stop right away.
  2. While performing bicep tendonitis exercises, make sure you do them gently.
  3. Take plenty of rest periods between the repetitions.
  4. These exercises are only for bicep tendonitis. If you are suffering from other conditions like shoulder dislocation, please seek advice.

Bicep Tendonitis Exercises with Pictures

It’s best to perform bicep tendonitis exercises at the direction of an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist, to avoid making the inflammation worse.

Here are 6 simple bicep tendonitis exercises and stretches:

1. Biceps Curls

Don’t push yourself here! You’re trying to gently heal your tendon, not build huge biceps.

For biceps curls, start in a standing position and grab a light weight such as a dumbbell or tin can. Let your arm drape to your side with your palm facing forward.

Man doing bicep tendonitis exercise bicep curl

Keep your upper arm straight and lift the weight at your elbow.

lift the weight at your elbow

Slowly lower your arm back down. Do this 10 times and then repeat the set 3 times, resting between each set.

2. Biceps Stretch

This stretch is one of the best bicep tendonitis exercises as you can really tailor the intensity to make sure you’re not over-stretching.

To perform a biceps stretch, start by standing facing a wall, about 6 inches away. Raise your arm to the side so that your hand is in line with your shoulder.

raise your arm to the side

Move your hand slightly forward so that your thumb is touching the wall, with your palms facing down.

Keep that arm in the same position as you twist your body to look away from the raised hand until you feel a stretch in your bicep.

 look away and twist

Hold this position for 15 seconds then return to the starting position.

Repeat this 3 times, resting between each set.

Note: Make sure you don’t stretch your shoulder backwards. This can cause overstretching of the tendon, leading to more pain.

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3. Shoulder Flexion

Bicep tendonitis exercises are meant to help you to heal, rather than cause further damage – avoid shoulder flexion if it causes any pain in your shoulder!

Stand up with your arm at your side and your palm facing your thigh.

 arm at the side

Slowly raise your arm up, keeping the arm straight, until your fingers are pointed up at the sky.

 raise your arm until it’s pointing at your side.

Hold this position for 5 seconds, then return to the starting position. Do this 10 times.

Repeat this 3 times throughout the day, taking plenty of rest between each set.

Note: When performing shoulder flexion, avoid reaching overhead and backward as it can harm the biceps tendon.

4. Shoulder Internal Rotation

For shoulder internal rotation, find a towel, resistance band, or something similar. Hold one end with your non-injured hand, holding it behind your head.

drape a towel behind your back

With your injured arm, reach behind your back and take hold of the towel at the level of your lower back.

grab the towel with your other arm

Use your non-injured arm to gently lift your bottom hand so that it reaches up towards your shoulder blades. Keep lifting until you feel it stretching, before it causes any pain, and hold it here for 30 seconds.

 lift your arm up until you feel a stretch

Return to the original position, then repeat again after a rest. Repeat this set of two twice throughout the day.

5. Shoulder External Rotation

To perform external rotation of your shoulder, start by taking something elastic, like an exercise band, in both of your hands. Holding your elbows at your side, hold the exercise band out in front of you at waist height, so that your elbows are at a roughly 90-degree angle. Your palms should be facing down.

 hold a band out in front of you

Gently pull the band apart, keeping your elbows stuck to your side, until you feel a gentle stretch in your arm. Slowly bring your hands back together until back in the original position.

pull the band apart

Repeat this 10 times. Complete this set of 10 three times throughout the day.

6. Forearm Supination and Pronation

To do forearm twists, also known as forearm supination and pronation, start from a standing position with your arms by your side. Keep your elbows stuck to your side and bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle so your palms are facing down.

 hold your arm out palm facing down

Turn your hands over so that your palms are now facing the sky and hold for 5 seconds.

turn your hand over palm facing up

Rotate your hands back to the starting position and hold for 5 seconds.

hold your arm out palm facing down

Repeat this so that you have done each movement 10 times. Do 3 sets throughout the day.

7. Shoulder Circle Crossover

This bicep tendonitis exercise is one of the best mobility exercises to restore your shoulder movement. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand up straight with your arms out to the sides, palms facing forward.
  2. Pull your shoulder blades back together.
  3. Move your arms back behind you, extending your shoulders further.
  4. Raise your arms up while turning your palms forward.
  5. Once your hands meet, cross them in front of your body until they’re horizontally crossed in front of you.
  6. Reverse the movement until your palms are behind you facing backwards.
man doing arm circle crossover

For an example of how this works, check out this video below:

YouTube video

Repeat this exercise for 3 to 6 times, and do 1 to 2 sets. Breathe consistently throughout the exercise and maintain good posture.

Note: Remember not to overextend your shoulders while performing this exercise.

For Acute Biceps Tendonitis

In the first stages, you will need to go slowly and carefully with your exercises. For acute biceps tendonitis, try a gentle swinging motion to help your tendon heal.

Here’s how to do pendular movements:

  1. Bend at your waist
  2. Let your arm hang down
  3. Gently sway in a clockwise or counter clockwise direction
man doing anticlockwise pendulum swings

Repeat this for 5 minutes every hour. You’ll notice a significant difference.

Exercises to Avoid with Biceps Tendonitis

As you recover, you should skip exercises where you raise your arms high or in front of you. This can squeeze the biceps tendon and make the pain worse.

Here are some exercises to avoid with biceps tendonitis:

Overhead Lifting

Avoid lifting objects with your arm above 90 degrees. This will lead to overstretching of your biceps tendon leading to more pain.

Exercises such as bicep curls can be very effective for shoulder rehab. Practice these instead to help strengthen your muscles without putting too much stress on the tendon.

red cross over man lifting dumbbell over his head

Overhead shoulder presses

Studies show that most men don’t have enough flexibility to move their shoulders well to do behind-the-neck shoulder presses right.

That’s why it’s not a good idea to do this exercise if you have biceps tendinitis.

man doing overhead lifting with red cross over him

Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs involve lifting your shoulders up. This puts direct pressure on your injured biceps tendon, leading to more pain.

man doing shoulder shrug with red cross over him

Avoid shoulder shrugs when you have bicep tendonitis.

Push-ups

Push-ups involve lifting your body weight with your arms, leading to more inflammation and pain.

man doing pushups with red cross over him

Even once you feel you’re recovering, we’d recommend starting with gentle wall pushups, followed by pushups off your knees only when you feel comfortable that it won’t cause pain.

Lifting Heavy Weights

Heavy lifting puts a lot of stress on your biceps tendon, which can increase your risk of existing symptoms.

man lifting a heavy sofa with a red cross over him

Ask for help with heavy lifting duties until you’re feeling back to 100%!

FAQs

  1. How do I know if I have Biceps Tendonitis?

    With biceps tendonitis, you’ll feel pain in the front of your shoulder, especially when lifting your arm.

    You might also experience muscle pain down your upper arm and hear a snapping sound in your shoulder.

  2. How often should I do these exercises?

    It’s essential to listen to your body and not overdo it. Start with gentle exercises and gradually increase intensity as tolerated.

    Aim for consistency, but take plenty of rest between sessions.

  3. When can I get back to normal activities while doing these exercises?

    The time it takes to heal from biceps tendonitis varies based on how severe your injury is and how it’s treated.

    It might take three to four months to fully recover.

What Shoulder Services Do We Offer?

Shoulder Pain Assessment

Shoulder Pain is frustrating and can impact both your sleep and your mental health. Dr. Mehta is a shoulder doctor and can diagnose your pain, offering various surgical and non-surgical treatments.

Shoulder Surgery

If your shoulder condition is severe, or nothing you have tried has helped, Dr. Mehta can advise you on the options for surgery. She is a shoulder specialist and can offer expert opinion and care.

Treatment of Shoulder Conditions

Including

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder makes your shoulder stiff and can make movement painful.

Bicep Tendinitis

Bicep tendonitis causes pain in your upper arm and can lead to a bicep tendon tear.

Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement makes it difficult to raise your arms above your head.

Shoulder Bursitis

Shoulder bursitis gives you a tender shoulder and makes it difficult to sleep.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tears can occur during sports and make overhead movements difficult.

Dislocated Shoulder

Shoulder dislocation causes a disformed and painful shoulder and can be recurrent.

Shoulder Separation

Shoulder separation is a sprain in the AC joint near your shoulder.

And Many More!

Dr. Mehta offers diagnosis and treatment of all shoulder conditions and can offer her specialist opinion as an expert shoulder doctor.

Expert Advice For Shoulder Problems