Sore Biceps – Help!

Posted by: on July 29, 2012

Today’s “Ask Mama Silk” question comes from Rosemarie M. in Edmonton, Canada.

She writes:
“I have been using my arms a lot (chin ups, pole tricks) and one of my biceps got irritated… now after swimming this morning, the other is irritated. Have you had this before? If so, how did you take care of it? THANKS!”

Mama Silk says: Rest, rest, rest. Chin ups, pole, and swimming are all heavy upper body activities. You may be experiencing Pattern Overload, which results from consistently repeating the same motion patterns, thus placing abnormal stresses on the body.

Pattern Overload is bad, as it may lead to the Cumulative Injury Cycle.

Tissue trauma —> Inflammation —> Muscle Spasm —> Adhesions —> Altered Neuromuscular Control —> Muscle Imbalance —> Cumulative Injury Cycle —> Tissue trauma and on and on and on…

So take 2 Advil, and call me in the morning. And don’t forget to ice, 20 mins on, 20 mins off (never put ice directly on your skin, unless it’s in a refreshing beverage on your tongue).

When you’re adequately healed, evaluate both your training and cross-training:

1. Choose activities that aren’t all ‘upper-body-all-the-time’.

At the pool? Use the flutterboard – rest your arms and work out those legs.
At the gym? Lower body and legs can get neglected in aerial class. Get on the treadmill, or do some leg presses.
At the park? Hop up on the bench (preferably when there’s no one sitting on it) for some plyometric exercises.

2. Concentrate on using your back and lats when you climb and when you are holding yourself up.
How is your technique? Are your shoulders up? Are you using your biceps when you should be using your back and lats? God gave you lots of muscles. Use them all. Your biceps were not meant to hold your entire body weight.

Biceps strain is frequently seen in new aerialists who overtrain without proper technique. Consult your professional aerial instructor!

3. Cycle your training to rest muscle groups
Pace yourself. Muscles can actually get weaker if they are trained every day. Break up your training to give muscle groups a rest.

4. Stretch
Use a combination of self-myofascial release (e.g. foam roller), static stretching, active-isolated stretching and dynamic stretching. Again, ask your experienced aerial instructor or personal trainer for help. A good class will include a variety of stretching.

5. Drink lots of water, eat your vegetables and get lots of rest.
Lights out, cub scout! Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Your body needs repair and rejuvenation. You need to be well-hydrated and nourished for your body to withstand the rigors of aerial arts, both in the short and long term.

Sending lots of aerial love and healing vibes.

~Mama Silk

Sources: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training
Photos:,, Mama Silk

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