The Shoulder Series - Part 2

Bicep Tendinosis


The Biceps muscle sits on the front of your arm and connects the shoulder to the elbow. There are two tendons at the top of the muscle (long head and short head) that connect the muscle to two different parts of the shoulder blade. Both the long head and short head tendons are susceptible to developing tendinosis. However, the long head is usually more vulnerable to damage because of its position. The biceps long head tendon helps to maintain the position of the top of the arm bone (humerus) in the shoulder joint (click here for an overview of the shoulder joint) and helps prevent shoulder dislocation.

What is Tendinosis?

Tendons are made up of a material called collagen. Repetitive or excessive stress placed on a tendon can lead to collagen degeneration and breakdown in that tendon. This breakdown is called tendinosis.

Common characteristics of Bicep Tendinosis

Usually onset is very gradual as a result of chronic overload of the long head tendon. Repetitive motions of shoulder flexion, elbow flexion and supination all use the bicep muscle. Think occupational activities such as using a screwdriver, painting overhead, heavy lifting, writing on a whiteboard or hairdressing. Also athletes that throw, swim, use a racquet or lift weights may also be at greater risk of developing tendinosis.

Pain is usually described as diffuse and aching, located on the front of the shoulder which may radiate down to the elbow. The pain usually increases with overhead activities, lifting and pulling. Typically pain is felt at the beginning of the activity, it then subsides and recurs later after the activity has ended. Rest usually relieves symptoms.

Massage for Bicep Tendinosis

Massage can be very helpful in treating this condition by reducing tension in the biceps muscle itself as well treating the primary problem of collagen degeneration with deep friction massage. In addition to this, massage can be used to address tension patterns and trigger points that may develop in the surrounding area of the shoulder, upper back and neck.

Massage Therapy is best used as part of a co-ordinated Physical Therapy treatment plan for this condition. Physical Therapy will also provide necessary strengthening exercises, coordination and motor control training and postural re-education.

So, how do you find a qualified and experienced Massage Therapist to treat your shoulder? You’ve already found one! Click here to book an appointment.