Can I Still Workout with a Torn Bicep Tendon 2024? Experts Explain

Discover the safe ways to stay active and the expert advice on “Can I Still Workout with a Torn Bicep Tendon”?

Suffering from a torn bicep tendon doesn’t have to mean the end of your fitness journey.

What is a Torn Bicep Tendon?

A torn bicep tendon is an injury you definitely can’t ignore! This condition involves the biceps muscle, a key player in the strength and function of your upper arm. It happens when the tendons—which connect your biceps to bones in the shoulder and elbow—tear. These injuries, often resulting in pain and swelling, can sideline you from your favorite activities.

Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Sharp pain often signals the initial tear, especially in the front of your upper arm.
  • Swelling and tenderness around the shoulder or elbow may follow the injury.
  • Bruising can appear down your arm, hinting at the severity of the tear.
  • You might experience weakness when rotating your arm or during daily tasks.

Tears can be either complete or partial. Your tendon has detached entirely in a complete tear, whereas a partial tear means it’s merely damaged. Now, these pesky tears typically happen in the long head of the biceps tendon near the shoulder, less so in the short head.

Getting the proper treatment early on is crucial. Conservative treatments such as rest, ice, and physical therapy might do the trick for less severe tears. However, for a complete rupture, you might need surgery to get back your full strength.

Can I Still Workout with a Torn Bicep Tendon?

A person with a torn bicep tendon attempts to lift weights but winces in pain, holding their injured arm close to their body

It’s crucial to approach working out with a torn bicep tendon carefully, but don’t lose heart—you can still stay active! With the right strategy, you can work around the injury safely. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Rest & Ice: Initially, give your bicep plenty of rest, and apply ice to reduce inflammation.
  • Rehabilitation: Engage in a structured rehabilitation program designed by a professional.
  • Physical Therapy: Consult with a physical therapist to create a tailored exercise plan that promotes healing while maintaining strength and function.
  • Exercise Modification: Adapt your exercises to avoid strain on the injured bicep. This may involve altering the range of motion or lifting lighter weights.

Strength and Mobility: Focus on maintaining strength in the surrounding muscles and improving your range of motion with gentle exercises. For example:

  • Forearm Strengthening: Wrist curls and extensions with light weights can help.
  • Shoulder Stability: Work on shoulder exercises to prevent impingement that can exacerbate the issue.

Treatment and Pain Relief:

  • NSAIDs: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage pain and reduce swelling.
  • Therapeutic Modalities: Consider using treatments such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation as a healthcare provider recommends.

Medical and Recovery Journey

A person with a torn bicep tendon contemplating workout equipment, with a medical chart and recovery tools nearby

Your path to recovery from a torn bicep tendon involves a multifaceted approach which starts with a proper diagnosis, followed by initial treatment, and extends through long-term rehabilitation, with the potential need for surgical intervention based on the extent of the injury.

Initial Treatment and Diagnosis

After experiencing symptoms such as a “pop” sensation, bruising, or pain in the arm, you should consult a doctor for a comprehensive physical examination to assess your injury. Your doctor will take your medical history and may order an MRI scan or X-ray to confirm a torn bicep tendon.

Once diagnosed, the initial treatment typically includes rest, icing, and possibly using a sling to immobilize the arm. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce inflammation and pain.

Long-Term Recovery and Rehabilitation

The road to recovery requires patience and dedication to a tailored treatment plan often devised by your physical therapist. Strengthening exercises and physical therapy sessions will be crucial for long-term recovery and rehabilitation.

These exercises may evolve as your tendon heals. A conservative approach usually spans several weeks to a few months, largely depending on whether the tendon is wholly or partially torn.

When to Consider Surgery

Surgical treatment may be necessary for more severe cases, such as a complete tendon tear or the presence of a “Popeye muscle” deformity.

The procedure aims to reattach the tendon to the bone and is usually followed by a structured rehabilitation program.

Discussing the risks, benefits, and potential complications of surgery with your medical professionals is essential, especially considering factors like age and lifestyle habits like smoking, which can influence your recovery time.


Can I work out with a torn bicep tendon? 

You may work out with a torn bicep tendon, but you should consult a physical therapist for safe exercises.

Can you still lift weights after a bicep tear?

After a bicep tear, you can lift weights, but only after proper healing and with a doctor’s approval.

What happens if you don’t repair a torn bicep tendon?

If you don’t repair a torn bicep tendon, you might face permanent arm weakness and deformity.

Can you lift your arm with a torn bicep?

Lifting your arm with a torn bicep is possible, but it may be painful and limited in motion.

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