Bicep curls can cause delayed onset muscle soreness.
Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is a normal side effect of strength training, which makes the biceps a common area of complaint. Even the most tenured athlete or bodybuilder experiences DOMS from time-to-time. Consult with your doctor if the pain is severe or occurred suddenly during a workout.
Rule Out an Injury
Delayed onset muscle soreness only affects the muscles targeted during exercise, so pain in the joints, bone or nerves surrounding your biceps is not normal post-exercise pain. If you feel pain in the tendons connecting to your bicep, there is possible inflammation of your tendons, which is also known as tendonitis. Tendonitis pain is consistently felt when using the tendon that attaches to the muscle. A nerve injury can cause burning, numbness, tingling, a shock-sensation or weakness. A strain or fracture is likely to cause a sharp pain at the time of the injury and afterward with attempted movement. The pain experienced from DOMS is stiffness with reduced range of motion, temporary reduced strength, and dull soreness that subsides spontaneously within 72 hours.
Determine the Cause
There are several theories on the cause of delayed onset muscle soreness with your muscle fibers experiencing microscopic damage during physical activity being the most agreed upon cause. Lactic acid accumulation causing the post-exercise pain is a misconception. The bicep pain is likely to start 24 hours after performing certain exercises, such as basic bicep curls, wide-grip or close-grip barbell curls, and hammer curls. All these exercises cause the muscles to lengthen while force is applied, which is the foundation for developing DOMS. Recently increasing the intensity or amount of repetitions also causes DOMS.
Fix the Pain
The only treatment for delayed onset muscle soreness is to wait it out. An ice pack can help with minor swelling and alleviate some pain. An over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory can reduce inflammation and pain within the muscle. DOMS often makes the muscle tender when touched, but some people enjoy a massage to the affected area while others find it causes more pain. Performing light exercises on the biceps, such as using light weights or performing gentle air jabs, can bring oxygenated blood to the biceps while removing metabolic waste from the muscles. Drinking tart cherry juice is another alternative pain relief method for DOMS.
Stretch the Biceps
This stretch targets the biceps, so you may experience some relief from muscle tightness. Start by sitting on your buttocks with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet together and your heels about 5 inches from your buttocks. Reach your arms behind you and place your palms flat on the floor with your fingers pointing toward the wall behind you. Keep your spine straight during the stretch and balance your weight between your feet, buttocks and hands. Without moving your hands, slowly slide your buttocks toward your heels. Once you feel painless tension, hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat the stretch twice.