How Bicep Curls Can Help Stop Shoulder Pain

The bicep tendon has a very special role in stabilizing the shoulder joint. The long head of the bicep literally is the primary stabilizer of the top of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. Most major injuries of the shoulder involve the long head of the bicep.

Learning how to perform the curl with a slightly different movement can offer a significant increase in stabilization to the shoulder joint. The bicep is a special muscle since it crosses the elbow and the shoulder joint. This means that the bicep flexes the elbow and acts as a flexor of the shoulder in many movements.

Most of us are quite familiar with the basic curl. This curl is typically performed by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and slightly staggered for stability. Then grip the bar at approximately shoulder width and flex the arms lifting the weight.

To make the bicep curl different, attempt to perform two things:

Flex the bicep during the lifting and the lowering phases. The curl would typically end as the bar reaches the chest, but continue the lift by raising the bar to the forehead.

The extra upwards shoulder flexion allows the bicep to recruit more muscle fiber in the upper region of the bicep which stimulates the region of the tendon that stabilizes the upper part of the glenohumeral joint.

Using the final “uppercut” to the bicep also provides extra tension to much of the rotator cuff that is directly resting on the upper tendon. It also helps peak the head of the biceps to make them appear higher.

Choose a weight that allows for the lifting of the bar approximately 15-20 repetitions. Remember to maintain muscle “flexing” while moving the bar up and down. Move the weight at a slower pace than normal to obtain the best feeling of full tension.

For the first few weeks of doing this movement use a slower pace and then gain speed. As the weeks progress, the speed of the movement should increase back to normal, then eventually the speed should double to help coordinate the joint and muscle stability at higher torques.

This technique can be applied to any type of curl with a simple additional elevation of the weight at the end of the movement. Simple dumbbell bicep curls or single-arm cable curls are great movements to include the “uppercut” movement.

Bicep workout to help stabilize shoulder movements:





barbell curl



start with slower movements, then increase speed

dumbbell curl



flex the muscle at the top of the lift

cable curls



single arm with movements with wrist flexion

The process of increasing the stabilization of the shoulder is accomplished as soon as you perform the first few reps. Try to diversify your lifting by attempting to move all of your biceps movements faster and use the simple “uppercut” at the end to apply that final touch.

About the Author
DrDavidRyanDr. David Ryan has an extensive background in both coaching and playing professional sports, and has been the team physician for several highly ranked teams. Dr. Ryan now serves as the current Co-Chairman of the Arnold Sports Festival ( and is a former Medical Director of this internationally acclaimed event.

Dr. Ryans numerous articles have been published in International Medical Journals, Muscle & Fitness Magazine as well as on the popular website. Visit Dr. Ryans home page on here: and his YouTube page here.