Gliding properties of the long head of the biceps brachii

G. Heers, S. W. O℉ Driscoll, A. M. Halder, C. Zhao, N. Mura, L. J. Berglund, M. E. Zobitz, K. N. An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


To elucidate the role of mechanical forces that resist motion of the long head of the biceps brachii, the gliding resistance of the tendon during abduction and adduction was measured. Nine human cadaveric glenohumeral joints were obtained (mean age 68 years, range 47-84). A testing device was developed to simulate glenohumeral abduction and adduction motion. Gliding resistance was calculated as the force differential on the proximal and distal ends of the biceps brachii at five glenohumeral angles (15°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 75°). The average gliding resistance in abduction at 15°, 30°, 45°, 60° and 75° for a 4.9 N load was 0.41, 0.40, 0.36, 0.32 and 0.28 N, respectively. At these same angles, but during adduction motion, the force on the proximal tendon end was either identical or less than the distal tendon end (p > 0.46) indicating a lack of resistance and even a phenomena of "negative" resistance in which some other force overcame the friction. The difference in gliding resistance between abduction and adduction was significant (p < 0.05). The results indicate that forces opposing biceps tendon gliding are more complicated than simply due to friction. Tendon deformation inside the bicipital groove produces a direction-dependent effect due to a mechanism of elastic recoil. Understanding forces that are absorbed by the tendon during active motion may provide insight into pathological changes that develop inside and around the tendon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-166
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


  • Biceps tendon
  • Bicipital groove
  • Friction
  • Mechanical forces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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