Many People Have pain along the front of their shoulder and think it has to do with a rotator cuff injury, but that's not always the case. Your two upper biceps tendons run up into your shoulder area and the long head originates directly in your shoulder girdle. The other originates on your Coracoid process which is located in the area between your pectoral muscles and your front shoulder muscle. The biceps tendons can become inflamed for a number of reasons and when they do it can be quite painful and debilitating.
There are many mechanisms that can cause biceps tendonitis. The most common of these is overuse. When the cells of the biceps tendons don't have enough time to properly rest from strenuous work or repetitive exercise, they become inflamed due to the healing process. The second most common cause is having weak rotator cuff muscles or a rotator cuff injury. The biceps tendons will begin to take over all of the work for the rotator cuff muscles when they're weak or injured, thus resulting in overuse of the biceps tendons. A third possible mechanism is poor posture. Forward shoulders can cause impingement of the biceps tendons and irritate them.
Just as there are many mechanisms for biceps tendonitis to occur, there are many ways to correct it. The first and most important of which is rest. Without proper rest the biceps tendons won't have enough time have the damaged tissue be repaired. So how much time is enough? It's all dependent on the individual and the severity of the injury. I recommend waiting till pain is minimal and slowly progress back into activity, using pain as a guide to how far you can progress each day. The second mechanism of weak rotator cuff muscles can be addressed by rest followed by strengthening of those rotator cuff muscles through various exercises. The third mechanism of injury, impingement, can be addressed by scapular retraction training, of which is explained in greater detail in one of my previous blog posts. It can also be corrected by stretching anterior shoulder and pectoral muscles to reduce the forward pull on the shoulder joint by those muscles.
Overall, biceps tendonitis may seem like an insignificant thing to most people but it can be debilitating for many people who perform a lot of physical labor for work or athletics and should be corrected as soon as possible. The best treatment is always prevention and this can be done by performing the same exercises and practices as the treatment for biceps tendonitis.