Bicep: Definition and What it is
Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Biceps Definition and Meaning
Your bicep is a large muscle located on the front portion of the upper arm, between the shoulder and the elbow. It consists of a long head and a short head, both of which work together to control motions such as lifting and twisting the forearm. The primary function of the bicep is twofold: flexing the elbow and supinating the forearm, which means turning the palm up.
The biceps muscles are active during everyday activities such as carrying bags and opening doors, as well as complex activities that require fine motor skills, such as writing or playing certain musical instruments. The bicep also plays a crucial role in the stability of the shoulder joint, with the tendon of the long head passing through the shoulder joint and attaching to the scapula (shoulder blade).
Bicep curls are one of the most well-known exercises you can do to strengthen your bicep muscles. But don’t stop there: Exercises that strengthen the shoulders, chest, back, triceps, and arms overall build support around the biceps so they don’t have to work as hard. When your entire upper body is strong, your biceps are less susceptible to strain and injury. Great moves to start with include: seated chest press, shoulder rows, and tricep dips.
Common Biceps Injuries
Common biceps injuries include: biceps tendinitis (irritation and inflammation of the biceps tendon, often due to repetitive motion); biceps tendon strains (in which the tendons are overstretched or torn); and biceps muscle strains (in which the biceps muscle fibers are overstretched or torn).
Biceps Injuries: A Hinge Health Perspective
Your biceps are integral to many everyday movements, and they can usually handle a lot of the stress and strain they have to absorb as you lift, carry, and curl all sorts of things. Occasionally, though, your biceps can get hurt. The good news: These muscles are strong and resilient, and there's a lot you can do to help them recover and avoid further irritation.
If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury to your biceps, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to healing. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. Movement, while at times painful, helps rehab the biceps muscles by increasing blood flow, and gradually improving the muscle’s strength and flexibility. A physical therapist (PT) can also work with you on a strengthening and stretching plan. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.
How Hinge Health Can Help You
If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.
The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.
Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition.
Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.
This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.
Taylor, S. A., & O’Brien, S. J. (2016). Clinically Relevant Anatomy and Biomechanics of the Proximal Biceps. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 35(1), 1–18. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2015.08.005
Tiwana, M. S., Charlick, M., & Varacallo, M. (2020, August 30). Anatomy, Shoulder and Upper Limb, Biceps Muscle. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519538/
McFarland, E. G., & Borade, A. (2016). Examination of the Biceps Tendon. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 35(1), 29–45. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2015.08.004
Athwal, G.S. October 2021. Biceps Tendinitis. OrthoInfo. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/biceps-tendinitis