Please help me with my muscle imbalance

Jan 12th, 2014

Thibault asked The Guru for the following Physiotherapy Advice:


1. The main issue:

I have a weak left bicep and I am finding it difficult to get it stronger. My left bicep struggles to do even 4 sets of 10 reps at 4KG. I begin feeling a burning sensation deep inside the bicep (roughly around the second set) and soon my bicep hardens and I am not able to do more repetitions. Note that I don’t get this sensation with my right bicep even if I use a very heavy weight.

Even though I knew that my left bicep was weaker than my right, I was doing heavy pulling back exercises and bicep concentration curls with both hands together.

2. The symptoms

There is asymmetry in my scapula and shoulder. My left scapula is a bit higher than the right one. This becomes apparent when I move my arms as you would during a wall slide. Additionally my left shoulder is slightly higher than my right shoulder. When I do press ups and other shoulder exercises, I find my shoulders, specifically my left one tightening up which stops me from doing many reps.

3. The cure?

I am currently using very low weights for all exercises involving biceps and I’m doing 1 arm at a time. My issue is that I don’t see much improvement in bicep strength and I still feel the same burning and constricting sensation of the bicep which stops me from doing more reps.

I am concerned about fixing my bicep because if I can’t grow my biceps then my back wont develop, and I also can’t develop my shoulders properly.

Please note that I did break my Radius and Ulna in my left arm when I was young, but I do not have any mobility issues in my left arm.

I would be very grateful if you could help me diagnose my problem and help resolve it. If you need any more information, please ask.



Jan 12th, 2014

The Guru Responded:

Hi Thibault

It sounds as if you’re trying to do all the right things, and I think your old fracture does have some influence but unless you are given the ability to move any better, then I think you’ll just get more frustrated.

Burning is not a common sensation. When nerve tissue is dysfunctional you will feel a burning sensation, and this is really he only time. So no matter how hard you try to max up your biceps, the neural interface won’t allow it. Because of this neural change you can’t light up 100% of the muscle.

Why you can’t is the real issue. The old fracture will have made you move differently – and this is your set pattern. What commonly happens is that your thoracic spine becomes really tight but to have normal shoulder range your shunt the head of your humerus forward in the shoulder socket. This now tractions the nerve that runs from your neck down your arm into various muscles.

You don’t need to concentrate on pushing big weights but you need to do it properly with your shoulder (arm and scapula) sitting in the right place. For this to happen you’ll need to have enough adequate movement in your thoracic spine…..

Hope this makes sense

The Guru

Six Physio

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