T Nation

How Do I Know If I Have a Pec Tear?


i was doing incline bench and on my 2nd rep i heard a disturbing rip in my left pec near my armpit. i was not in major pain at all but it felt more like a sore/stretched feeling following the rip. ive looked on the net and i dont have any symptoms like extreme pain, bruising or swelling or dents. its the 2nd day now and i have no symptoms but i just feel like a soreness/stretched feeling on the outer part of the pec near the armpit but it isnt very bothersome and i feel like it may go away

even though i dont really have any of the symptoms, i still heard that disturbing wet towel-like rip and am wondering if it is possible that i have a minor pec tear? maybe just a strain?

any info is greatly appreciated


Muscle strains are muscle tears. Ligament sprains are ligaments tears. The degree to which it is torn determines the severity of the injury. It sounds like you strained your pec during the exercise. The sound you heard/feeling you felt may have just been some muscular adhesions/restrictions breaking up.

Do some gentle ROM and light resisted exercises to help with recovery. Ice as needed. Test it out and if it still doesn't feel right, go see a doc.


thanks for the advice man i appreciate it


If you don't have any sign of bruising, I'm inclined to think you did not tear anything.


Hey Chiefs,

Did you recover from this? I felt the same thing 2 weeks ago doing Incline Press. I felt a minor disturbance on my left top pec area where the shoulder connects. This was only my 3rd time doing Incline Presses in years and I started 3 weeks ago (once a week on Wednesdays). I remember I wanted to lower the bar to touch my chest and that is when it happened.

Normally, because I workout alone in a sumo squat rack with safety bars, I cannot lower the bar during bench presses closer than about 1" from my chest or it hits the bar. I think a few years of this may have weakened that last inch of ROM or something (or I just have no clue) but I rested it about a week with lighter bench presses and today I felt it again during flat bench presses (1 1/2 weeks of lighter bench). I wonder if you rested longer and were fully recovered so that I know to take a longer break as well.



Any updates from chiefs_2k6 or Dr. SeRRoD?


I had something similar about a year ago. I heard a rip and it actually felt like tearing a piece of paper but it didn't hurt. I racked the weight and didn't think twice of it. I bumped the weight 5lbs and it happened again but this time it hurt and it ended-up being a partially ruptured tendon. No bench pressing for two months and it still irritates me to this day although it's "healed."


My discomfort is almost fully gone now. I basically lifted lightly for Bench and especially Incline for about 3-4 weeks and yesterday I went a little heavier on flat bench with only a very minor sensation (almost nothing if I weren't looking for it). I ramped up my incline slowly as well adding 10lbs at a time and found that as long as I did not bring the weights down to my chest and stopped short around 2-3", there was no discomfort.

I believe it may have been a consequence of training flat-only to about 1-2" from chest (due to safety bars on rack) and then jumping into Incline and trying to touch my chest. The extra inch(es) and new angle may have been too much to have moved too quickly into so definitely start lower if you transition into incline for the first time in a while!