Brief Outline of Muscle Strain (Biceps Brachii, Chest)

Muscle strains are among the most common sports injuries and often result from the sudden extension of a joint beyond its normal range of function. This causes damage to muscle and other soft tissue. The chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor) joint the biceps brachii muscle at the shoulder joint. Weight training, sudden, violent torsion of the shoulder during throwing sports, or a sudden force applied to the nexus of the pectorals and biceps brachii (as when warding off a check in hockey with the arm extended), can produce such injuries.

Anatomy and physiology

The biceps brachii muscle is located on the front of the upper arm, and operates over three joints. Its function is to allow bending of the arm and to support loads placed on the arm. This muscle has two parts, known as the long head and short head, both connected to bone via the biceps brachii tendon.

Along with the pectoralis minor, the large pectoralis major muscle forms the anterior wall of the axilla, and has its origin in the clavicle, sternum, and first six costal cartilages, inserting in the greater tubecule of the humerus bone. The muscle is used for flexion, adduction, and medial rotation. It joins the biceps brachii muscle, meeting at the shoulder joint.

Cause of Muscle Strain (Biceps Brachii, Chest)

Sudden movement leading to a muscle tear. Large physical demand placed on the muscle. Warding off a check in hockey or tackle in football.

Signs and symptoms

Tenderness and pain over the affected muscle. Stiffness. Pain during muscle use.

Complications if left unattended

Muscle strains are usually self-limiting  and repair themselves given proper time off from exertion and allowing time for healing. Insufficient recovery time however can lead to further tearing, increasing the risk of re-injury and lead to degenerative changes in the muscles over time.


  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Injection
  • Physiotherapy

Rehabilitation and prevention

Stretching exercises follow healing can help restore full mobility in the affected area while strengthening exercises can help prevent re-injury. Stretching and warm-ups, as well as attention to proper athletic technique (particularly in weight training) may help prevent this type of injury.

Long-term prognosis

Muscle strains involving the pectoral muscles of the chest and/or the biceps brachii are common and – given adequate time for proper healing – generally not a serious threat to the athlete, although severe or repeated muscle strains can cause chronic pain and lead to impairment of muscle function.

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