5 Biceps Tendonitis Exercises for Overhead Athletes
Many overhead athletes like baseball players, tennis players, volleyball players or weightlifters experience pain in the front of the shoulder and are commonly diagnosed with biceps tendonitis. Luckily, there are biceps tendonitis exercises that can reduce this pain you’re experiencing.
Biceps tendonitis has become a bit of a catch-all “junk” diagnosis where nothing is structurally wrong with the shoulder, but an athlete continues to have pain. Unfortunately, that diagnosis doesn’t actually give you any information on how to solve the pain in the front of your shoulder (or “biceps tendonitis”).
Overall, the front of the shoulder is a complicated place. You have labrums, muscles (like your biceps), subscapularis (one of your rotator cuff muscles), pec major muscle and latissimus dorsi tendon that all attach on the front of your shoulder. Additionally, you have soft tissues like your shoulder capsule, structural ligaments and your labrum that are in the front of your shoulder.
When you have pain in the front of your shoulder, any of these structures could be irritated and cause discomfort. How do you know what to do?
In situations like this, we recommend what we call an impairment based approach. Commonly we see overhead athletes that have anterior shoulder pain present with decreased shoulder range of motion and weakness in the muscles in the back of your shoulder. These things can put increased stress on the structures in the front of your shoulder and contribute to pain. Rather than focusing solely on the pain in the front of the shoulder, we recommend addressing some of these other issues, and oftentimes the pain in the front of the shoulder will decrease.
Biceps Tendonitis Exercises
Here are common exercises we utilize in athletes diagnosed with biceps tendonitis:
- Posterior Shoulder Lacrosse Ball
- Kneeling Lateral Plank Shoulder Horizontal Abduction
- Prone T
- Serratus Reach and Raise
- Waiters Walk
Posterior Shoulder Lacrosse Ball
This is a great self-mobilization exercise to help decrease the tension in the posterior shoulder that can limit range of motion and put more stress on the front of the shoulder.
Kneeling Lateral Plank Shoulder Horizontal Abduction
We utilize this exercise to both increase the range of motion through the back of the shoulder and strengthen the muscles in the back of the shoulder. This is key to decreasing the stress on the structures in the front of the shoulder.
Your shoulder blade plays a crucial role in shoulder health for overhead athletes. It can put your arm in good positions that will decrease the stress on the front of your shoulder. This exercise works the muscles in the back of your shoulder to improve your posture and the positioning of your shoulder blade.
Serratus Reach and Raise
This is a drill that focuses on proper shoulder blade mechanics to help with full range of motion overhead. Did you know that your shoulder blade contributes almost a third of your total range of motion overhead? For an overhead athlete, the ability to have full range of motion and get your arm overhead is crucial. Any decrease in shoulder blade motion will put more stress on the shoulder joint itself.
When done correctly you should feel this exercise in the back of your shoulder, in your armpit and around your shoulder blade, not in the front of your shoulder. This is a great drill to work on controlling your shoulder motion prior to a return to overhead lifting.
As with any athletic injury, we always recommend specific rehab. At Kinetic Sports Medicine and Performance, we have the tools and technology to measure your shoulder range of motion, your shoulder strength and look for any asymmetries and inefficiencies that may be contributing to your shoulder pain.
If you’ve been diagnosed with biceps tendonitis and need a plan to rehab, give us a call or click below to schedule a free injury consultation with our team!