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Why Are My Biceps So Tight? Stretch Your Sore Muscles

There’s nothing worse than sore muscles, especially in your arms. When your arms and biceps feel tight, everything feels like it takes more effort.

To solve the problem of why your biceps are so tight, we first have to take a step back and understand some of the potential sources of tight biceps. 

What Causes Tight Biceps?

There are several causes of tight biceps, each of which may occur independently or cooperatively. 

  • Overuse - If you spend a lot of time in the gym performing bicep curls, or have a job or duties that require carrying heavy items frequently, your biceps may be overworked. When your biceps are overworked, they have a tendency to feel tight and sore.
  • Stress - Stress can create muscle tension, and your body may prefer to manifest that muscle tension in your biceps (versus your shoulders or other body part). Poor sleep or dietary habits can also create stress that exhibits itself in tight biceps.
  • Dehydration - If you are not consuming enough fluids, especially if you exercise frequently, you can experience tight biceps. Water helps transport critical nutrients to your muscles, so hydrating effectively can be an important factor in dealing with muscle tightness.
  • Injury - When an injury occurs, your bicep muscles will respond by becoming tight and restricted in order to protect itself from further injury or pain. 

How to Relieve Tight Bicep Muscles

When progressing to taking action to relieve tight bicep muscles, there are a few primary techniques that are proven effective. 

  1. Foam Roll/Massage - Self myofascial release through foam rolling can help flush away lactic acid, reduce tightness, and increase blood flow. If there is any tension in your biceps, foam rolling can provide immediate relief. 
  1. Stretching - After you foam roll, performing a variety of bicep stretches and tricep stretches can assist with tight muscles. The reason you want to also stretch your triceps is the biceps and triceps are partner muscles. Since they are located opposite from one another in the upper arm, when the biceps contract, the triceps relax and vice versa.

  2. Strengthening - Once your tight bicep muscles are showing signs of progress, strengthening the surrounding muscles (triceps, forearm) helps protect your biceps from overuse. As well, isolating your biceps muscle with strength training can prevent a recurrence of muscle tightness.

How to Stretch Tight Bicep Muscles

How to stretch tight bicep muscles will depend if you are stretching proactively or reactively.

This means that proactively stretching your biceps is intended for prevention. It would be ideal to stretch in the morning to activate your muscles from resting, as well as before your workout and after your workout. 

Try this Doorway Bicep Stretch for proactive prevention - 

  1. Start by standing in a doorway and using your right hand, anchor your hand to the doorway slightly above waist height, so that the doorway provides secure support.
  2. Then, step forward with your left foot and lean forward over the left knee and foot like you’re doing a lunge. Make sure your left hand is grasping the door firmly. 

Stretching reactively specifies that once bicep tightness materializes, stretching 3x per day is recommended to relieve tightness as quickly as possible. However, you will want to start off more gently and slowly increase the intensity. 

Start with these Horizontal Hand Rotations first. If you find them easy, you can progress to the doorway bicep stretch. 

  1. While standing with your arms by your sides, rotate your shoulders forward by turning your thumbs down.
  2. Then, switch and rotate your shoulders backward by turning your thumbs up.
  3. While rotating back and forth, maintain tension in your arms and shoulders for maximum engagement

When to See a Doctor

If your bicep tightness does not resolve itself after 1-2 weeks of resting and stretching, it may be in your best interest to consult with a doctor. Your doctor can request imaging to provide a diagnosis, as well as recommend physical therapy for more serious injuries.