T Nation

Advice for Possible Pec Strain/Tear


After searching the site for a while and reading other posts I decided to see if someone
might be able to help me out. In one of the posts I read a few members suggested
posting a strain/tear injury in the power lifting section since this is the place with the most

I'm currently stationed in the middle-east with the Army, and lift after long days of
work. About three months back we had a Weighted Dip challenge, to see who can dip the
most weight.

Sadly my ego got the best of me and I worked my way up to about 245 lbs. After a
single rep with the weight I started coming down to the floor slowly, my right pec
gave out. Following it were a series of pops and I just felt my chest go numb. So I
drop down knowing I just fucked up. The next day there was a dull pain on my chest
and pressing anything was out of the question.

I took about 6 weeks off from chest and any exercise that would bother me. During
those weeks I did static stretches and used bands to try to stretch the muscle.
After I worked out chest with very light weights and didn't really push
myself too hard, trying to work my way back into it.

It wasn't until Four weeks ago that I flexed in front of a mirror and noticed a hole
on the side of my pec. I know its normal to have an indentation there normally, but
its big enough me to notice and it bothered me. I decided its best to take time away
from the gym and go see a provider (military doctor).

They sent me to get an MRI done. The doctor analyzed the images and said there's no
abnormalities in my pec muscle.

Anyways I'll upload a few images, maybe you guys can help me out. I need advice on
what I should do. I can workout my chest carefully and it wont cause any pain, but
I'm concerned. Should I be working out chest, or should I just focus on other muscle
groups. If so for how long? Also Is there a way to close in the hole in my pec?

I know a lot of other articles talk about Surgery to fix a strained pec, I can't
get surgery done out here. The doctors don't see a need for it since nothing
popped up on the MRI. Can the muscle heal incorrectly and cause a problem later on?
and should I be concerned about tearing the same muscle again?

Thanks ahead of time guys


If that is a pec tear, which it does look quite possible, it certainly is minor compared to most. Surgery isn’t going to be worth it so just be careful from here on out.


From the picture you have posted, it does look like a possible minor tear. Try raising your hand to the level of your shoulder and seeing if you can see straight into your arm pit. The pec major makes up the anterior portion of the arm pit. If you had a large tear, the muscle belly will stay put in your pec region when you raise your arm overhead. Often times the pec will look significantly larger when it is torn since the tendon retracts toward the muscle origin. Also, when the injury ocurred, did you have any bruising of the upper arm region? The tendon of pec major inserts on the upper humerus, so if you tore the muscle you would’ve likely had some bruising in this region.

As for repairing of the muscle, it depends on where the tear was present on if surgery is recommended. If the tear occurs at the insertion site, then often times repair is recommended to restore full function of the muscle. If the tear is located within the muscle belly, having it repaired actually does not increase function of the muscle. An intra-muscle belly tear repair can be compared to sewing a wet leaf to a wet leaf in a sense and it does not restore the function of the neural structures that were damaged from the tear. Most people that have a repair with an intra-muscular tear are doing it for cosmetic reasons.

The fact nothing came up on your MRI is promising. You may have some lingering weakness on the side that was torn, but as long as you are pain free I wouldn’t worry too much about re-injury. Just ease yourself back into your previous training regimen. Let pain be your guide. If the exercise you are performing feels like you are straining it, discontinue that exercise or lighten up your load. Good luck.



Thanks for the advice, I’ll be honest you really got my hopes up lol. I’ll get back into working my chest out and see a doctor back in the US.