Water sports and distal biceps tendon tears

Injury Report
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For a lot of Indiana residents, summer time means spending time outdoors at the lake. Whether it’s cooking out, fishing or boating there is plenty to do to keep everyone busy. With all the fun, sometimes it’s hard to remember to stay safe.

Water sports, such as skiing or tubing, can cause serious injuries. One injury common to water sports is distal biceps tendon tears.

Distal bicep tendon tears typically result from an eccentric contraction of the biceps. An eccentric contraction means that while the muscle is contracting, it is lengthening; muscles normally shorten when they contract, also called a concentric contraction.  An example of an eccentric contraction is lowering a weight down after doing a biceps curl. Tears occur when the eccentric contraction is unexpected or very violent.

“Water sports, such as skiing and tubing, can cause a violent eccentric contraction of the biceps as you attempt to hold onto the rope, as the boat pulls you out of the water,” said Dr. Chris Bales, OrthoIndy sports medicine specialist. “Weight lifting can also result in distal bicep tendon tears; such as bicep curls with too much weight or pull-ups.”

Dr. Bales explained that any lifting activity could result in a biceps tendon tear, such as helping someone move a couch or TV and one person lets go. The other person lifting the object tries to hold on and his or her arm is forcefully brought down (an eccentric contraction) tearing the biceps tendon.

Presented by OrthoIndy.

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