Sore biceps after a workout indicate delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. The condition often occurs after lifting weights or doing exercises that utilize your body weight. Soreness in your biceps generally appears 12 to 48 hours after exercise and can last for several days. In most cases, this pain is normal and can be treated at home. Contact your doctor if pain persists or gets worse.
When you begin a new exercise routine or increase the size of your weights, the muscles in your biceps get tiny tears due to the contraction and retraction moves used during your workout. This damage contributes to an increase in size and mass but is often uncomfortable or painful in the days following your workout. If you are new to exercise, you may experience bicep soreness as well. The condition goes away as your body adapts to exercise and typically appears again only when you make changes to your routine.
Home treatment is often appropriate for bicep soreness and is generally enough to alleviate the pain. Apply ice to the area for 10 to 15 minutes several times each day to reduce swelling and to numb your muscles. Over-the-counter pain medications are effective for treating inflammation and soreness. Wrap your biceps with compression bandages, and elevate them when possible to combat swelling. Resting your biceps for a day or two allows your muscles to recover and prepare for your next workout.
There is no guaranteed method for preventing bicep soreness after a workout, although proper preparation can keep the symptoms mild. Before you begin your bicep exercises, warm up your arm muscles. This gets blood flowing to the area and prepares your muscles for the higher intensity portions of your workout. The University of New Mexico suggests using warm-up moves similar to those in your exercise routine. For example, warm up by doing bicep curls with small hand weights before progressing to heavier dumbbells or exercise machines with a large pound load.
Most of the time, delayed onset muscle soreness in your biceps goes away on its own. Call your doctor if your pain gets worse or doesn't respond to home treatment methods. If you notice any swelling or redness in your biceps, have a fever or difficulty breathing or experience muscle weakness, seek medical attention right away. If pain appears during bicep exercises, rather than after, you might have injured the muscle. Stop immediately and see your doctor.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.