Brachialis, The Baby Carrying Muscle

In His Arms

In His Arms (Photo credit: Kate Dreyer)

One of the ways that adults carry their little one is by placing the child on a flexed forearm and pulling him or her close to the body. The bulk of the supported weight is over the lower arm.  This position stresses the muscles that work to maintain this position.  Many times, the parent doesn’t have the strength or stamina to keep the arm flexed for long periods of time.  But they try their best to hold their child, especially if baby cannot walk yet.  Thus, the weak and/or tired muscles can be injured to the point where the act becomes difficult or painful.  Although the biceps (as well as the brachioradialis) participate, the dominant muscle used to carry your baby is the lesser known brachialis.

The brachialis is a thick muscle that lies underneath the biceps on the lower half of the humerus.  Like the biceps brachii and brachioradialis, the brachialis assists in flexing the elbow.  Unlike the biceps and brachioradialis, the brachialis has only one function.  This single function causes the brachialis to be engaged during every elbow flexing motion.

Typical problems with the brachialis can be seen with weakness and/or discomfort in picking up a heavy baby, carrying groceries, or holding arms outstretched.  Some brachialis problems make straightening the arm difficult.  Pain is typically felt in one or more of the following locations:  anterior portion of the shoulder, outer portion of the upper arm, inner portion of elbow crease, and in the thumb.

Brachialis problems can exist as trigger points, or tender areas in the muscle.  The good news is that moms, dads, and relatives can work out these trigger points on themselves and bring significant relief in a short amount of time.  The brachialis muscle can be easily massaged with the thumb of the opposite hand.  The first place to treat is the outer portion of the arm between the biceps and triceps.  Located on the lower half of the humerus bone, the brachialis feels lumpy to the touch.  Massage this area, especially working the area near the outer edge of the biceps.  The next place to treat is inside the elbow crease. Because the brachialis attaches to the ulna just below the elbow crease, it’s possible to address brachialis tenderness from this spot.  Use the thumb to massage around the medial epicondyle, paying particular attention to the muscular area just toward the inside.

English: Location of UCL injury

English: Medial Epicondyle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Other ways of treating the brachialis are by using a massage tool.  August Point Wellness offer a multipurpose trigger point massage tool called the Sciaticare Ball that can treat brachialis pain as well as many other muscular complaints.  Other useful hand tools assist in applying firm pressure to massage away trigger points.  A massage therapist or acupuncturist can professionally assess your pain and treat not only the brachialis, but the surrounding areas as well.  Most times, a few visit will be required to fully relieve the pain and discomfort.  Exercise and stretching should also recommended to help keep the brachialis muscle strong and allow you enjoy carrying your baby for longer periods, pain free.

Related Material:

Brachialis Muscle Trigger Point Therapy Using the Sciaticare Ball