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How to Heal Triceps Pain with Massage

The Triceps are made up of three heads. The long head attaches to the shoulder blade on the infraglenoid tubercle. The lateral head attaches to the lateral and posterior surfaces of the proximal humerus. The medial head attaches to distal two-thirds of the medial and posterior surface of the humerus. All three run together and attach to the olecranon process (bump on your elbow). Both run together and attach to the forearm on the tuberosity of the radius. The main movement is the extension of the elbow. But the muscle also extends and adducts the shoulder.

Two Tests Which May Indicate the Pain is Coming from your Neck:

Neck Compression Test: Spurling Test: Extend your head back. With your neck extended, tilt your head to the painful side. Hold this position for 30 seconds. If you feel neck pain, pain, or tingling that radiates down the arm, or numbness, then you have tested positive.

Radial nerve tension test: Test unaffected arm first. With the arm at your side, take your hand and twist so it is facing palm out. Flip your hand up so the palm is now facing the ceiling. Side bend neck away from hand. Repeat the same test on the painful arm. If you cannot obtain the described position without increased pain and/or symptoms you have tested positive for the radial arm tension test.

A triceps strain occurs when the bicep muscle becomes stretched beyond its limit. This excessive stretching may cause a “muscle strain”, a “muscle tear’, or a “muscle pull”. All three descriptions refer to damage to a muscle or its attaching tendon.

The injury to the hip muscle or muscle tendon may be graded according to the severity:

• 1 st degree - the hip muscle may be sore but there was only mild overstretching of a muscle.

• 2 nd degree - mild swelling and bruising but possible severe muscle pain and tenderness. Moderate over-stretching of the bicep muscle with some tearing of the fibers.

• 3 rd degree - severe pain and swelling. Muscle or tendon is torn all the way through. The muscle is either ripped into two separate pieces or sheared away from the tendon. This can cause a complete loss of function and may require surgery.

Anyone can strain their triceps belly muscles from just daily tasks, but a tear can also occur from pushing activities such as bench press. A tear could also occur from a fall onto an outstretched arm. Less common a strain or tear can occur at the tendon which is the thick band that attaches the triceps muscle to the elbow bone (olecranon process). Both can happen because of age-related wear and tear. And finally, the injury could happen in the muscle belly itself.

You have a higher chance of experiencing a triceps strain if:

A. You have had a prior triceps strain or tear.

B. You have muscle tightness.

C. You fail to warm up before an athletic or work event.

D. You attempt to push too much weight with exercise or work.

Signs and Symptoms of a Triceps Strain or Tear

1. Swelling and bruising (discoloration)

2. Muscle spasms

3. Previous Triceps strain or tear

4. You can feel point tenderness in the muscle.

5. Might feel an indentation or bump in the muscle.

6. Pain when that muscle is used.

7. Weakness when that muscle is used.

8. Hearing a “pop” sound when the muscle or tendon was injured.

9. Feel for point tenderness over the muscle belly (tenderness may indicate a muscle tear).

X-rays may be ordered to make certain a bone fracture did not occur with a strain or tear.


1. If tender, perform cross fiber friction massage over insertion tendon (on the elbow bone).

2. Try massage (use finger over finger, or side to side). Be aggressive over the tender area and deep. If tender massage for 30-60 seconds and assess. If plateauing or decreasing you may continue. If increasing you must stop and try another day.

3. In all cases you should also massage the nontender areas of the triceps muscle belly.

4. If able to tolerate the cross-fiber massage may do up to 20 minutes or 5 minutes (4x a day) every other day. Use of massage gun - ball or pointer attachment.

This video is part of a series of videos on how to treat your pain with self-massage. Check the full series of videos along with the downloadable guide sheets for each video on our website here:

Bob & Brad's Massage Guns

C2 Massage Gun (US), T2 Massage Gun, EM-19 Massage Gun, Q2 Mini Massage Gun (US), X6 PRO Massage Gun with Stainless Steel Head

Medical Disclaimer All information, content, and material on this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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Our Sciatica Program offers videos to help relieve your pain at home, work, or just out living life.


Total Knee Replacement Fitness Program

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Our Total Knee Replacement Program can help.


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You'll be back on your feet in no time.


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Learn ways to relieve pain at home and feel your best with the videos in our Knee Program!


Plantar Fasciitis Relief Program

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