T Nation

No Insurance... Please Diagnose and Advise...


I'm a poor uninsured grad student who lifts weights in his backyard. I think I injured myself a bit today. I know I should go to a doctor - but I don't really have that luxury without insurance. So, I'm hoping the more experienced lifters here might have likely a diagnoses and some advice.

First, my stats: I'm 30 years old. I'm 5'8" and about 205lbs; my bodyfat is around 25 - 30% (I know, I'm tubby - too much beer). My lifts: deadlift 390 for 3x5; squat A2G 265 for 3x5; overhead press 140 3x5; and bench press 240 3x5.

So, I've been doing Starting Strength for a month or two. I've also been dieting. Last Friday, I benched 240 3x5, but I felt a little pain/tightness in the front of my armpit, right where the pec and shoulder meet. I was a little worried, so I stayed at 240... today, I still felt a little pain/tightness in the same spot, and as I was in the middle of my second set, at the top of the third rep, I felt two or three little pops, right where it was sore (again, front of the armpit, where the pec and shoulder meet). It didn't hurt - but it freaked me out. So, I cut my workout short.

Now, two hours later, my left shoulder hurts a bit. Oddly, it aches on top of the shoulder, near the collarbone. Also, if I put my hands together in a praying position and push my palms together, it hurts where it was sore, in the front of the armpit. I don't see any discolor. Also, on my right side (not injured) there is a lump in the front of the armpit where the shoulder meets the bicep, like a tendon or muscle or something - but in my left armpit (injured) there is a deep indent, no lump.

After some googling, it seems I may have hurt (tore?) my coracobrachialis muscle.

So, what do you think I did? How would I know if I tore something? I sort of assume that, if I tore something, it is a partial tear, since it didn't really hurt at first. What do I do now? I assume heavy bench press is out for a while... can I lift weights at all?

Any thoughts and/or experiences with an injury like this are appreciated!


Asking for an online diagnosis is risky.

What makes you think it's your coracobrachialis? Because of this missing lump? Do es raising your upper arm straight up hurt?


Yeah, I'll take any diagnoses with a grain of salt. I was just sort of hoping my symptoms pointed to something common and obvious, that experienced lifters might recognize.

I thought it might be the coracorbrachialis because I was looking at anatomy charts online and trying to figure out what I would feel pop in the front of the armpit, and then result in pain in the shoulder/clavicle area. The coracorbrachialis seemed like it might fit. I am not wedded to this diagnosis.

My shoulder hurts most when I am just standing with my arms hanging down at my sides or when I raise it straight overhead, like a military press. Oddly, it does not hurt as much when I make a bench press motion.


That's interesting. I have some ideas but honestly I'm hesitant to throw them out based on internet descriptions.

My father has similar symptoms that stim from an imbalance on internal and external rotators. How much external rotation and rear delt work do you do?


Recently, I've just been doing Squats, Deadlifts, Bench press, overhead press, Pendlay rows, chin-ups and dips. So, very little external rotation work, I guess.

Just an update: my shoulder still hurts in the clavical area, but less so today. I think I have full range of motion - although I do feel a little weakness or stretch where I felt it pop under my armpit, so I'm hesitant to stretch too much. I clearly strained or tore something - but it seems to be getting better so I'm hopeful it isn't that bad.


well, ive torn my pec and ive totally torn the tricep tendon. with the pec tear, it sounds like a tear(literally) with the tricep tendon, it felt like someone whacked me in the back of my arm. honestly, what yours sounds like is a pulled ligament. keep an eye out for redness around the area. just work around the injury. do things that don't irratate it. the pec insertion near the shoulder is a very common place for injuries.

Like i said, keep an eye out for things. there are many many of these type injuries that don't require surgery and theres nothing any dr. can do. just give that area rest. put some ice on it. for the first couple of days, then mix it some heat. maybe a warm bath or something. but first the ice for the first 2 days. get the swelling down. and take some ibuphrophen.


Dude you have a pretty serois, muscle imbalance, i know that when you mentioned shoulder clavicle pain

train back, rotator cuff, serratus twice a week (try facepulls, cable rows, cable rotator complex)

ditch out all pressing movements (ie bench, triceps) for a month, in order to let your muscle enough time to heal


Is there a basic lift I that would indicate my muscle imbalance, and that I could work on to fix it? For instance, I bench 240 3x5, but I can only Pendlay row 170 3x5... and I can only overhead press 140 3x5 (that seems very weak compared to my bench). I guess I'm wondering what basic exercises I can use as bench marks and how much I should be lifting, in order to make it in proportion to my bench press. (I hope that question makes sense...)


yep, some trainers recommend 1 to 0.9 push to pull ratio, the more advanced you get, the more 1:1 the ratio needs to get in order to prevent injuries due to bad posture.

have you seen those huge lats profesional bodybuilders have? that's what I mean, you need to incorporate more rowing into your routine.