Forearm and Biceps Pain When Lifting

Hi Joshua,

I keep getting pain on the inside of my forearm about 2 inches from the elbow joint.

I started to get some relief so I attempted to build the muscle both on my bicep, and on the forearm. But, the more I attempted curls for the bicep, the pain came back.

This has been going on for many months approximately 7 or 8 or more possibly.

I have also started to give myself friction massages on the area, which I think is the tendon??

But now the whole area is fairly sore. When is too much friction for a tendon? What is happening to me and what should I be doing?

It only causes pain when I use force on it. I am a musician as well too so I have to use my arms for repetitive movements.

Please, any help is appreciated.



Joshua Answers:

Hi there.

Friction massage, great. Also add in squeezing massage and static pressure on the biceps muscles.

This includes the biceps brachii, the brachialis, and the brachioradialis.

Check out the anatomy online, poke around and see if you can identify which is the primary problem. Generally, it's going to be the brachialis and/or the brachioradialis.

When you start hurting yourself from too much cross fiber friction, then it's time to back off.

So I need more information to determine whether you are suffering from Tendonitis or just from a Tendonitis dynamic (meaning with damage, or without damage).

See: What Is Tendonitis?

1. What kind of muscician are you?

2. How bad is the pain?

3. One arm or both?

4. Pain anywhere else?

5. How old are you?

6. In general, what does your diet look like?

7. In general, what does your daily activity level look like?

8. Are you sore from the massage? Or sore from the chronic pain, or from working out?

Also, I would suggest that you start to Ice Massage as described on the How To Reduce Inflammation page.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Aug 05, 2009
response to your questions Joshua
by: James

Hi Joshua,

Since I last wrote on the letter above things started to get better and I think it was through the massage and weights, but, I realized there was a different pain, in a different area. I started to try to workout this area with the same techniques but with what initially seems like adverse effects.

It seems to be a sharper pain. It's when I grasp anything that is vertical and try to lift, as in a flag pole for instance. I started to do curls this way with a 10lb weight and it caused sharp pain in the large run of tendons from the bicep over the joint, but also down towards and through the bicep. The pain ceases as soon as I stop and I can run my fingers all around the tendon with no problem at all, even with firm force massaging as I'm lifting. But, the specific area seems to be at the base of the tendon where it connects, under the brachioradialis. And that area is slightly tendor after vigorous massage. It's hard to pinpoint the exact location with this one though as it seems to affect different areas in quick bursts as I lift or flex my muscles.

So now, when I return to doing the curls I was previously doing with success, I cannot do them. I can't tell whether I have reopened a wound or have started working on, and repairing an existing one. The weightlifting techniques are very similar, they're only on a slightly different angle, which seems to aggravate. Unfortunately, I can't seem to curl anything holding it vertically which then impedes or stops my progress.

Answering your questions:
1- bass guitar, thicker strings more resistance, more force needed to pluck, high tempo style of music, but I don't think this is what caused the injury, I think it was from lifting something and injury through having it rest on my tendons when lifting, 90lbs approx
2- with this second incident possibly a 7 when exerting force
3- the right arm
4- no but many months ago doctors had noted how tense my muscles were all the way up to my shoulder, tendonitis was also noted in the joint area I've described but was told it would go away with time
5- 35
6- I eat fairly decent foods at nice restaurants, but rarely if ever junk food, 5-7 pints of beer a week on average, my diet has changed over the past 8 months to less meat, more greens, cottage cheese, fruits
7- moderate activity level, I ride a bike casually, and I was working as a courier hopping in and out of a truck all day, I'm more sedentary now though
8- I'm sore when I lift, or when I flex. I can't tell whether it's caused by massage or weights, but I was very sore after the initial massage which is when I first wrote, and now I am only sore when I try to curl anything when grasping in either horizontal or vertical positions.

I will send a video. If my diet, exercise level, or routine need to change I will do it. Thanks Joshua.


Aug 19, 2009
im in need of the same help
by: mike

i have pretty much the same thing going on and it has kept me out of the gym all together. it doesent seem to be getting any better with rest and i also do not have health insurance. i dont even want to begin to think how much this might cost to pin point this problem. i hope to learn something on this sight.


Joshua Anwers:

Ok guys, here's what to do, essentially.

Start feeling around. Start at the top of the shoulder, and find the tendon of the biceps (There's two, but just find the one at the very front of the shoulder).

Flex your biceps, that will help you find it.

It will likely be tender. Work your way down the length of the muscle, just checking it all out, and down until it turns to tendon again.

In this area, we're going to explore.

With palm up, flex your bicep and feel the tendon pop up. Does it hurt? Is it tender? Is there a hot spot? On the tendon itself, or where the tendon attaches?

Then rotate your hand so your thumb side of your hand is in line with the ceiling.

Again, flex the bicep, and feel around.

You should feel two tendons move. You may need to pinch the tendons, and flex and rotate your hand to start to feel the two structures and how they move depending on the positioning of your hand and your flexing.

If there is a hot spot, that is a lesion site of actual a href="">Tendonitis injury.

If it's all just sore and tender, then you have just a Tendonitis dynamic of pain and inflammation.

Either way, Ice it. Ice massage, frequent ice packs, if you have a deep sink or bucket, ice dip as described on the How To Reduce Inflammation page.

Keep in mind, there are a few structures at play here. They all cross the elbow joint and attach to your lower arm.

Ultimately, they are inflamed and unhappy.

Relax the too tight muscle and connective tissue structures with self massage, and ice for the inflammation, A LOT and frequently, until it is gone, and then some.

Try it out.

More questions, more answers.

Aug 24, 2009
PART 4 - two questions - Forearm and Biceps Pain When Lifting
by: James

Hi Joshua,

Great, thank you. I think I've had both tendonitis and the dynamic, but definitely more the dynamic.

This has been going on a long time and has covered different areas of my arm and arms, so that suggests to me now after your explanation that it's probably more a dynamic. As it seems to work itself out with time, ice, stretching, and physio, I can now pinpoint certain areas and the problems more.

I am working with a physiotherapist right now and she is good, but you're explanations are phenomenal. So I'm going to pose a few questions for you as you seem to be the best person to answer them. If any answers are already on the site my apologies.

How does one continue being a very serious, physical, and active musician, athlete, or other, and prevent the recurrence from ever happening again? What is the prevention?

Because experiencing this can make one very aware, even making one nervous or paranoid, what are the things we should be watching for (physical sensations) and what are the things we should not be worrying over?

Thanks Joshua for all the help.


P.S. also there are two postings of one of my previous letters on this thread, you may want to delete them as I think they may be redundant. Thx:)


Joshua Answers:

1. What is the prevention?

A. Keep the muscles/connective tissue loose and flexible with self-massage and effective stretching.

B. Nutrition. Lots of protein, and nutrients like magnesium and Vitamin D. Did I say lots of protein and necessary nutrients? Bone Broth, baby, bone broth!

C. Icing. Ice Dip, Ice Massage. It's as good of a preventative as it is a restorative.

2. What should we worry about?

Pay attention. Good pain is good, bad pain is bad. The more you pay attention, the finer grasp one will have of what's going on in there.

The sensation of pain is not a bad thing, necessarily. It is a clue to ice, self massage, etc.

The problem really becomes when we feel pain and ignore it and hope that it will go away. It won't, it will just slowly/quickly get worse.

As long as you understand the Pain Causing Dynamic, you can keep your body healthy and pain free.

Does that answer your question?

3. Deleted, thanks:)

Aug 12, 2012
by: Jim Wells

I have had the same problem for about a week and could not work out whether the pain was in my lower bicep or upper forearm. Fantastic explanation, bring on the Ice!

thank you.

Apr 24, 2014
Inside arm pain after lifting weights
by: Tommy

After a weight workout last evening, hours later I started feeling a stinging pain from the inside of my arm, not the elbow but off to the side above the elbow, inside bicep area, underlining bicep area, stinks when I flew that arm or try to straighten the arm full out, pulls inside the arm, did I tweek a tendon or muscle.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Tommy.

I have no idea, there's just not enough info to go on. But chances are, yes you tweaked something.

The feeling of tightness can either be muscular tightness, nerve tightness, or just the sensation of tightness.

The stinging pain can be an uhappy nerve, or just the effect of a lot of pain enhancing chemical released by the Process of Inflammation.

Feb 05, 2016
ongoing bicep / forearm pain
by: Anonymous

Reading your self diagnosis steps here after 5 months of no answers including my GP and ultrasounds of the area. I have pain in upper forearm and lower bicep - I believe after trowling concrete.

While touching tendon at the base of the bicep where it meets the elbow - as you have described - palm facing the ceiling and flex creates pain in lower bicep and forearm.

If I turn my hand so my palm is facing left and my thumb is now pointed towards the ceiling and pain.

Can you help me to learn more about which tendons / muscles I should research further?

This pain is very hard to describe and locate - fast movements like catching something unexpectedly cause severe, sharp forearm pain.

Holding ANY weight in my right hand while arm is bent causes a problem (but only once I go to move it again). Picture standing at the bar holding a beer - all good until I go to put the beer down and my arm wont extend and has sharp pain.

It is VERY noteworthy that I have pain when I flex with palm up but no pain when I flex with thumb up. Any info you have would be extremely helpful.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

You could look into the Pronator Teres, but you've probably already seen that/come across that.

Personally I wouldn't do more research into anatomy, I'd research and/or start doing effective self care to reverse the dynamic causing the pain/problem (which can be applied to any anatomy).

Presuming that you don't have any actual injury (rip/tear) or are suffering from an impact injury...but even if you do the same effective self care strategy applies.

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