bicep tendonitis (from squatting)

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bicep tendonitis (from squatting)

Postby JP » Tue May 16, 2006 10:02 am

i've had a problem with aching tendons which i originally contributed to pressing movements. However, after a little bit of research i found out that the real culprit is actually squats and the way the low bar position together with narrow hand placement on the bar overstretches the bicep tendon and makes it sore.

The pain is a shooting pain in front delts, biceps, elbow and sometimes forearms as well. Having a job with a lot of typing doesn't help either (RSI related stress on the joints and tendons).

the westside barbell guys recomment not to squat heavy more than doubles because of it causing tendonitis. The reason for this is that the bar usually drops down even if just little causing you to overstretch the bicep tendon even more. Can't find the reference now, but will post it to this thread when i do.

What helped me and what i plan to do:
1. squat low reps, i dont do more than a double with heavy squats
2. no benching straight after squats - i would love to do this, but usually can't and ideally i would have at least one off day between squatting and benching.
3. stretching. In any ways possible, including dislocations with a broomstick or a band.
4. icing and deep heat.
5. high rep shoulder pressing to pump blood into the muscles.
6. hit rear delts and high rows hard to pull the shoulder blades back.
7. cut down computer use ;)

For reference here are some things i found out:
Squats and Arm/Shoulder Pain

It is a common phenonemon that the bigger you get and the more you squat, that you will eventually develop arm or shoulder pain. There are roughly three main causes of this: 1) having too narrow of a grip; 2) holding the bar too low on the back; and 3) overusage.

I have had bicep tendonitis so bad that I couldn’t raise my arms and any movement almost reduced me to tears. For those of you who have never had it, I pray that you never do. Image a sharp pain anytime you move your arm, that in its most extreme form, takes your breath. Shoulder pain usually results from the same three causes. A lot of times the only thing that can truly help you is rest, let it heal, and start over not making the same mistakes again. Here are few things that I have learned to keep it to a minimum.

1) Widen your grip when you squat. Learn to ‘balance’ the bar on your back and not ‘hold’ it with your hands. Widening your grip takes time in order to feel comfortable.

2) If you learn to do #1 properly, you can use the lower powerlifting bar placement without too much trouble. Many of us use the lower placement to improve leverage. You can always hold the bar higher on the back but it is likely your poundages will suffer. For some this is not an option.

3) Here’s one of the secrets. Cut the rep work out. Do no more than triples on any set. A lot of the abuse comes from the higher rep sets. Think about it. The bar moves around more, you get tired and have to stabilize it and your biceps and shoulders take the brunt of it. If you have these problems, lower your reps.

4) Use some neoprene sleeves to give extra support for you arms ONLY IF your shoulders are fine. Otherwise, you are just transferring the stress to your shoulders. I like to use them on my heavier sets. A good liniment helps too.

5) Bicep and Shoulder scheduling. You have to plan your training such that after squatting, your shoulders and arms have enough recuperation time. This is usually the easiest way to stay healthy. If you are doing 15 sets of shoulders and arms on Tuesday and then trying to squat heavily on Wednesday, you can understand why eventually it catches up with you. Try to include at least a day or two after a heavy squat session as a rule. You can also substitute a leg press and/or a safety squat bar for your leg work as neither stress the area.

6) Bicep and Shoulder training. Be sure to include work for your Brachialis and Brachioradialis. These include reverse curls, hammer curls, and incline dumbell curls. Don’t go crazy with volume as that will only make your problem worse.

7) Lastly, don’t be afraid to take some time off. I found that at some point, rest is the only thing that helps.

another guy i was emaailing with said:

dont know if you know the difference or not between supraspinatus and
biceps tendonitis. they have some of the same signs and symptoms and
can occur together due to the location of each and the close proximation
of the structures in this area.

basically bicpital ten. has pain in the front of the shoulder in the
bicipital groove. (follow your clavical to the end, walk your fingers
towards your bicep about 1 to 1 1/5 inches).
there is pain with resistance in the groove when you have arm flexed
straight out in front of you, palm up and someone else applies resistance
to your hand (speed's sign).

supra ten. pain occurs with an impingement test. stand with your arm
straight out in front of you again, have someone else internally rotate
your arm and bring it towards the other side. somewhat forcefully and
you should feel pain at the very end of your clavicle. (kind of looks
like someone is making you dump you favorite beer out in a line in
front of you)
if you noticed that your shoulders are rotating forward, stretch your
pecs in various positions. this is a cause for many shoulder issues
(tight pecs).

i would also suggest strengthing your rear delts, rotator cuff and
mid/lower traps and rhomboids.


here are some helpful pre/rehab things that you can do. the most obvious is ice and nsaids (ibuprofen). as well as the dreadful resting that area.

one of the issues with tendonitis, is that acute bouts of them are normal and not such a big deal. chronic tendonitis will actually change the cellular make up of the tendons and will cause problems later in life. when i state this i am referring to 10-15 years. doesn't seem like a big deal now, but as you get older, you may see a difference.
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Postby drummer boy » Tue May 16, 2006 11:22 pm

JP, are you actually "pushing" on the bar with your hands when you squat? It seems to me that could cause a lot of pain. If you think about it, it's almost like doing (or trying to do) a super-heavy, awkward press behind the neck at the same time as you're squatting (with a squatting weight).

I like the advice in the iron addicts article of just "balancing" the weight on your back, sort of analogous to balancing the weight across the front of your shoulders in front squats, and just using your hands to prevent the weight from sliding off.

Right now I'm doing mostly high rep training, and I there's no way I can hold the bar on my back low bar for 10+ reps, so I'm using high bar. I wonder how viable it would be to train high bar all the time and just save low bar for maxing out?
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Postby wannalift » Wed May 17, 2006 7:02 pm

i'm glad i read this. i have been having some low bicep pain that has caused my shoulder to hurt. i have been squating with a very narrow arm stance so perhaps this is my wakeup call. thanks for posting.
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Postby JP » Tue May 23, 2006 9:23 pm

sorry mate, thought i replied to this already but must have lost the post somewhere...

[quote="Mr. Hardgain"]JP, are you actually "pushing" on the bar with your hands when you squat? It seems to me that could cause a lot of pain. If you think about it, it's almost like doing (or trying to do) a super-heavy, awkward press behind the neck at the same time as you're squatting (with a squatting weight).

i push the bar into my back, not upwards. And its not a conscious push, because of the stiff shoulders it is quite atight grip just as it is :D

[quote]I wonder how viable it would be to train high bar all the time and just save low bar for maxing out?

i would not think so, i mean think about it, the mechanics and balance are different, even the way your position will be in the hole will be different and so on. I mean i am sure it will be ok for the time being, but in the long run when it starts getting really heavy it might not be ok.

How about doing like veganjosh, high bar squats as a separate exercise, and regular low bar squats as well.

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Postby cluelessgoon » Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:32 pm

I too used to suffer from incredible elbow/forearm pain during and after squatting. The worst thing I could do was to bench the same day or in the days after.:cry:

My problem was that as I pushed up during the squat I also 'pushed' in a rotational way with my palms on the bar - almost like arm wrestling. The key to solving this pain for me was to change how I held the bar.

Moving my grip inwards as much as I could (so my thumbs touch my shoulders) and using a thumbless grip made all the difference. The bar became naturally higher to start with and over time I learned to relax my arms and focus only on gripping the bar. Focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together to form a platform instead.

I have been dissallowed from starting a squat for having the bar too low - so don't worry about working the bar down over time.

I got the same pain rockclimbing or after french press.
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Re: bicep tendonitis (from squatting)

Postby chewybaws » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:17 am

ancient thread revival!

How did you get on with this problem JP?

A friend I'm training up has been having problems with a "dull" pain around his bicep/shoulder area as soon as squats get heavy. Been getting him to really concentrate on keeping elbows up (bar would always rotate back a touch when he lifted off the rack). It's affecting his other lifts, feels like he can't tense properly afterwards which is affecting his bench/OHP.

Next time he's round gonna try getting him to use a wider grip, did anything else really help you?
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Re: bicep tendonitis (from squatting)

Postby JP » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:22 am

How did you get on with this problem JP?

tore my pec tendon off the bone :D

tore it while benching but squatting was the main culprit. The tendon was slowly tearing off without me really realising it.

Now i squat with high bar position, bar on traps rather than rear delts, and its fine. It was that low bar position coupled with narrow grip which did it.

i would recommend your friend to keep on stretching areas and look at different grips and bar positions to remedy it rather than be silly and ignore it/mask it with painkillers like i did :D
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