When asking even the most novice weight trainees to show you their arms, they usually automatically go into a biceps pose.
But what about the other muscle located at the back of the upper arm? The triceps, which comprise approximately two-thirds the size of the upper arm, are extremely important to daily function.
What do the tricep muscles do?
The triceps are comprised of three heads (long, lateral and medial), and are responsible for extension of the elbow joint which straightens your arm.
This is important during pressing movements such as bench pressing, or doing dips and push-ups. In sports, the triceps are used in activities like pushing into a lineman during football or shooting a basketball.
What happens when you overuse your triceps?
Overusing your triceps can cause muscle strain and inflammation at the tendons. This can result in pain and tenderness which can increase with bending your arm, stretching the injury.
Also, pain may be felt with muscle contraction while straightening your arm. Pressing ice on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes can help reduce pain and swelling.
How can you tell you’ve injured your tricep?
More damage can result in tearing of the triceps tendon during trauma, such as falling on an outstretched arm. The most common location where a partial tear can occur is at the tendon-osseous junction (where the tendon meets the bone).
Weakness while extending the elbow against manual resistance is a common finding. A popping sensation or bump at the injury site could indicate a tear.
Also, if you notice pain or distinct weakness while doing triceps exercises, like kickbacks or extensions, on one side compared to the other could be an indication of a problem. Radiographs and MRI study can be used to confirm a tear.
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