Long Head of the Bicep or Acromion Clavicle

by Keith
(NS, Canada)

I was performing a bench press movement in bodybuilding and have been getting some discomfort around the acromion.

If I extend my arm out in front of me, palm down or up, and move the arm inward toward the center of my body, I get a very sharp pain in what seems to be the top of the front deltoid.

After doing some research this area is described as the acromion clavicle.

After speaking with others on a bodybuilding board they suggested it is not the ligaments or tendons in that area but rather the long head bicep tendons.

I disagree as that would be lower on the shoulder area, would it not?

I have not worked with the weights at all in over a week now and have iced it and have been taking ibuprofen but there is still discomfort there.

Also, when I extend my arm in front of my body, bend it at the elbow, hold the back of the elbow with my other hand and stretch the shoulder I get a bit of discomfort in the rear deltoid area. This is nowhere near the discomfort level of what I feel in the acromion area though.

Sorry for writing a small novel.

Any ideas, suggestions, etc. would be greatly appreciated.


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Feb 18, 2008
I think you are right...
by: Bart - SII

Keith, I think you are right in being concerned about your acromio-clavicular joint. The AC is where the acromion and clavicle meet, and it can often be a cause of pain.

The motion that you describe, bringing your arm across your body (horizontal adduction) actually compresses the AC joint. If you have any degeneration or irritation in the joint, you will have pain.

Biceps tendon problems can also be painful in this area, but that pain is not usually as strong with horizontal adduction as it is with just lifting your arm out in front of your body.

A few follow up questions might give more insight...

How long have you been bodybuilding?
Would you say you do a lot of "heavy" weight days?
Any other shoulder problems?
Do you have problems with any other exercises?

The discomfort you feel in the back of your shoulder is probably just a stretch of the posterior capsule.

Hope this helps...

Comment back with other questions

Feb 19, 2008
me again
by: Keith

I have been bodybuilding for 10 months now and am 50 years old so I'm no youngster. I do have heavy weight days where my reps are between 4-6 but have switched to 8-10 reps for the majority of exercises.

I have no pain from other exercises except possibly tricep bodyweight dips between bars and that is afterwards not during.

I have had this pain for a while now and it actually started as a little twinge in the area which produced discomfort for a few hours and then a few days after bench pressing.

I am a stickler for proper technique but have to admit to trying a different arm/shoulder position which apparently caused this injury.

I don't have any other shoulder problems.

I'm going to try and go very light with very high reps (50+) and see if that may help with strengthening the ligaments and tendons in that area.

Thanks for the reply, much appreciated.

Feb 19, 2008
Don't wait too long...
by: Bart - SII

Keith, it sounds like you are doing what you need to be to work through this. Decreasing weight and increasing reps may help. You might also try to change your hand grip position and see if that changes your pain.

One tip I can give you, from past patient experiences is to not wait too long to get this looked at. If you continue to have the same pain, or it gets worse, go see your doctor.

The AC joint can degenerate just like any other joint. You are by no means "old", but you may have some arthritic changes just from normal wear and tear. The cartilage on the end of the clavicle can wear down, and then when you compress the joint, it becomes painful and irritated.

Ultimately, this can lead to conscious or unconscious compensations at the shoulder, and can cause other problems. So, if this continues, go see your doctor.

Thanks for the great submission!

Nov 24, 2012
bicep tendotomy NEW
by: Anonymous

i recently had this done without my knowledge and it's causing more pain than before the surgery. can this be reversed?

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