Senior Injuries: Distal Bicep Tendon rupture

I took some time out from writing as I suffered an injury, significant enough to take me out of training for a while. It happened while I was sparring in a no-gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class: I was trying to grab somebody in a collar grip with my stronger, left arm. Before I knew it my left arm seized and any attempt at grabbing was met with severe pain. My opponent threw me and I was on the floor clutching my arm and wondering what the hell happened!

A few medical appointments later and it was clear I had a partial tendon rupture where the bicep connects to the bone. It happens more frequently with males over the age of 35 (hello me). Some photos below should provide you with a visual indication:

This is my unaffected, good arm.
This is the affected arm. Notice the bicep has moved up and definition is reduced above the elbow.

Recovery can happen without surgery, however there is a marked decrease in strength of arm supination (this is the rotation of the forearm and hand so that the palm faces forward or upward). I opted for surgery (and the potential complications this might involve). I’m due to go under the knife tomorrow…


I was really quite depressed after the injury. I’ll admit I had quite trivial belt aspirations this year given I was long overdue a belt upgrade in both BJJ and Judo. Even more crushing was just how much my grappling training defined me – to now recognize that I’d be off for a while was difficult to accept. Eventually, after speaking with medical professionals and mapping out for myself a learning and training journey to fill the interim period my mind settled. My partner jokingly said I went through the 5 stages of grief!


My affected arm hurts only mildly but the original pain was returning after I attempted to train again after a couple of weeks. As I say, from my research I see that the pain does subside and you can get some return of mobility without surgery but not to the same strength level.


The internet is usually a great place to scare yourself silly with misdiagnoses and worst case scenario injuries, but in this case it was actually a treasure trove of really useful info. I need to call out some of the Youtube content I found very valuable, particularly Mark Lidster, Andy Baker and Ben Carpenter.

I plan to post updates via this blog, however I will also post out some articles that I was in the middle of writing to ensure my 2-3 readers from all over the world get something in the meantime!

2 replies on “Senior Injuries: Distal Bicep Tendon rupture”

Leave a Reply