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bicep muscle | bicep tendonitis

1 culprit causing your neck pain that no one thinks about!

Written by Dr Elise Fuller

bicep muscle | bicep tendonitis

A big cause for neck pain!

Have you ever considered you biceps are contributing to your neck pain.  As if! I can see you rolling your eyes at me… But hear me out!

Your biceps job is to bend your elbow. It also has a function in flexing the arm at the shoulder. Can you think of an everyday position where your elbows are bent with a slight flexion of the shoulder? I’m in this exact position as I type this article… That’s right! Computer work.

So you don’t even need to be pumping out those bicep curls to have tight and sore biceps!

Where does the biceps muscle attach?

The biceps muscle has two distinct tendons at the top, which attach to different locations. One of them attaches to the very side of the shoulder blade (just about where the arm bone sits to form the ball and socket shoulder joint), while the other connects to a bony part on the front of the shoulder blade which you can feel just under your collar bone!

The bottom biceps tendon attaches to the radius (one of the bones in your forearm).

These attachments allow the muscle to flex both the elbow and the shoulder joints!

How can I fix tight biceps while at work?

So many of us spend lots of time sitting at desks and typing on computes for work. Did you know there are ways we can sit which can reduce tension in the biceps and therefore improve associated neck pain?

The height of your desk is super important! If it is too high, you have to reach your forearms up, which will force you to flex your elbows further, leading to increased tension in the biceps and causing indirect neck pain. Desk height can also directly affect neck pain, because if our computers are too high or too low, we have to hold our necks in an awkward position to adjust our gaze.

The position of the keyboard is also important! If it is too far away, we have to reach and pull our shoulders forward to type, which can also lead to tightness in the biceps muscles.

Fixing our posture and ergonomics at work can be super helpful for improving neck pain associated with tight biceps!

What other jobs or activities can cause tight biceps?

We now know that working long hours at a desk is a common cause of tight biceps, but there are other occupations and activities which may also lead to similar issues!

People who spend many hours driving (for work or leisure), also have their elbows bent and shoulders pulled forward for extended periods of time, which can lead to biceps tension. Additionally, tightness in the biceps muscles can occur in those who are doing lots of food preparation and cooking, or who are frequently lifting as part of their job (such as tradies). 

But where does the neck pain come from?

Well, as us osteopaths love to go on about, the body is a whole and everything works together to keep you moving. So if your biceps are tight, your shoulders will be pulled forward because of the biceps attachments around the shoulder. Pop yourself in this position. What happens to your neck when you pull your shoulders forward?

You’ll feel your traps and neck area tense up. You’ll also feel the base of your skull compress. (Hello headaches.) You might even feel some tension around your shoulder blades.

So whilst the biceps are not a directly connected to the neck they play an indirect role in changing your posture causing strain.

What can you do about your bicep causing neck pain?

It’s actually not easy to pick up on yourself whether your biceps are super tight because they don’t often cause pain at their site. So a really simple thing to do to test if they’re the cause of your neck pain is to stretch!

You can start with a simple pec stretch. This stretch will address some of the bicep fibres. You can then complete this stretch but with an outstretched elbow to get more of the biceps belly.

Check out our BICEP STRETCH HERE on our stretches page.

How can osteopathy help bicep related neck pain?

If you are experiencing neck pain, our osteopaths will assess your whole body and determine if the discomfort is a result of tension in your biceps! If so, they can apply soft tissue techniques to the biceps to reduce tightness. These can also be applied to any neck muscles which may have become sore. Additionally, our osteopaths may provide you with a set of stretches to do at home or during work, which can loosen the tissue and allow you to have a more active role in improving your pain!