Isotonic vs Isometric, Huh?

Look at your upper arms as you flex (bend your arm at the elbow). You’ll see the top-of-the-arm muscle push up the skin (or “bulge” for those with python upper arms). What you’re observing is the contraction of your bicep. Contractions are the action that happened when muscles shorten. Lengthen or shortening of muscles are involved in most every movement we make.

In the case of contractions, there are two major types: isotonic and isometric. And you can tell the difference by what happens to the length of the muscle (shorten, lengthen, or no change).

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Sore Biceps?

Your biceps (biceps brachii) are one of the most used muscles in your body.  The muscles are also the target of many fitness training programs.  It’s no wonder that overuse, strain, or trauma in these muscles is common.

Where’s the bicep?

Your biceps are muscles on the front part of your upper arm, extending between your elbow and shoulder.  They have a “short head” and “long head”, meaning the muscle itself has two parts that work together as a single muscle.  The biceps attach to your shoulder joint in two places and the other end of the bicep connects to your forearm bones (radius and ulna).  Biceps flex your forearms at the elbow and also assist with twisting the forearm (supination).

Common conditions

The biceps can ache for many reasons, the most common is overuse.  That’s when you attempt to lift something that’s too much for the muscle, or you do too many reps on your curls, or overdo the pull ups.  In some cases, the over stretching can cause micro tears in muscle fibers or related tendons and cause a strain.  Pain and swelling typically come with a strain.

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