What is the best way to begin rehab on a torn biceps muscle? How soon should you begin and with what exercises?
First, I highly recommend you consult with your client's physician and/or physical therapist. Secondly, I would need to know the complexity of the strain as well as the client's current functional ability in order to provide you with specifics. Due to a lack of information, we cannot answer your question specifically; however, we will offer you information pertaining to your client's situation. From there, you should be on your way to a successful program.
INFORMATION TO START
Usually a strain occurs at the weakest part of the unit and is classified three ways:
- Mild (grade1) - A slight pull without tearing of muscle or tendon fibers. There usually is no loss of strength.
- Moderate (grade2) - Tearing of fibers in a muscle, tendon or at the attachment to a bone. Strength is diminished.
- Severe (grade3) - Rupture of the muscle-tendon-bone attachment with separation of fibers. Severe strain requires surgical repair. Chronic strains are caused by overuse (very popular with bodybuilding techniques). Acute strains are caused by direct injury or overstress.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Muscle spasm
- Pain when moving or stretching the arm muscles
- Swelling around the injury
- "Crackling" feeling and sound when compressed with fingers
- Inflammation of the sheath covering the tendon
- Loss of strength (moderate or severe strain)
WHAT TO DO?
- Perform your own observation of symptoms
- Encourage a medical exam by a physician
- X-rays of the shoulder, arm and elbow will rule out fracture
HOW TO TREAT AFTER FOLLOWING THE DOCTOR'S INSTRUCTIONS
- Begin daily rehabilitation exercises (for the injured region) when supportive wrapping is no longer needed.
- If your client has been misusing exercises, start by teaching technique!
- Train all surrounding healthy tissues through functional patterns (squat, multi-directional lunging, walking, climbing stairs, pushing, pulling, twisting, balance drills, etc.)
- Research has shown that unilateral (one arm) training benefits the injured side. For example: perform a lunge - arm curl with uninjured side.
- Stay away from isolation training techniques (i.e. strict barbell curls, preacher curls, machine arm curls, even strict dumbbell curls). The elbow joints were not designed to function in isolation they work with the entire body!
- Always perform a movement analysis on your client. This analysis will clearly show what your client can and cannot do. All exercises should be created based on the client’s level of control. The active tissues (muscles) need to support the passive structures (bones, joints, ligaments). Safety and technique is the key!
- Call the physician if pain or swelling worsens, despite treatment.
- Read the many functional articles posted on PTontheNET.com. If your client strained his arm while training (repetitive stress), he will benefit greatly from a whole body, functional approach!