T Nation

Pec Tear and Beyond - My Road to Recovery

Hey guys, I’m a 21 year old law student, avid powerlifter, and recently suffered a pec tear. I’m making this log for two reasons: 1) I need a way to hold myself accountable to my rehab, my training, and my diet while I’m recovering, and 2) when I was looking around the Internet, I found a stunning lack of consolidated information on pec tears and how people made it through to the other side.

I’ll try to update this log frequently, but I’m pretty busy. We’ll see how it goes.

The back story

I dieted down in the fall to try to get ready for a bodybuilding show. As most amateurs who diet down, I was disappointed at my size and definition. I wanted rebound out of my diet, eager to implement new diet and training strategies. From November 1, 2012 to March 1, 2012, I went from about 235 to 305. I felt really fucking strong, was setting PRs every day, and just believed my training was going in a great direction. Unfortunately, I let my diet and conditioning slip, and put on way more fat than was acceptable, so I decided to start dieting back down for summer. Dem summer abs

I transitioned from 5/3/1 into a 6-day/week Big Beyond Belief split, really trying to focus on getting some pump and solid contraction.

March 20, 2013 - the day of the tear

This was day 3 of my BBB training. My training partners were late, so I just kind of sat around waiting for them to show up. Today was supposed to be 3x10-12@120 second rests with bench, lat pull down, and hammer curls.

I did a couple set of 8 at 45, everything felt good. Went up to 95, set of 8, felt good. Was really feeling the stretch in my chest, great contraction. 135x8. Felt great. I was going to do my working sets at 185, did a set of 6, and it felt really good, so I decided I would go up to 225. 3x225x10-12 still felt pretty conservative. I can pretty comfortable put up 225 for at least 25 on a good day, so I felt really comfortable working with the weight.

Normally when I bench for reps, I’ll use a moderate arch, wide grip, and a massive tuck. But I thought, “Hey, I’m bodybuilding. I’m working my chest today, not bench.” I had my spotter give me a hand off so I could stay as tight as possible (I set up a little different so I could bring the bar higher on my chest than I normally would." (Gruesome details following.) Rep 1, felt great. Really got the squeeze. Rep 2, felt even better. Rep 3, I came down very controlled, paused for a split second on my chest, and before I could get any forward momentum on the bar, my right arm just gave out completely. It felt and sounded like ripping a rag. Pain isn’t the word I would use to describe the feeling. It was just fucking weird. Sure, it hurt, but maybe like a 2 out of 10.

I still don’t know how I got out from under the bar, even though my training partners have explained it to me a dozen times. I yelled “OH FUCK,” as loud as I possibly could, and you could hear a pin drop in the gym. Nobody moved.

I get up and start talking to everyone at a mile a minute. I have a feeling at this point I was already in shock. I was just walking around talking about how I was going to drive myself to the ER, and I kept telling my training partners to keep going. They insisted on driving me to the ER.

Once we were at the ER, all of the nurses were incredibly hot, but I was too distracted by the pain to try to milk my badass chest injury from bench pressing. I’ve got my phone facing up on my lap, and the nurse hooks me up to a blood pressure cuff. Both of my arms are totally immobilized. My friend start bombing me with texts like “Dude, you have to get her number,” “You better be working that, boy,” etc., etc. I casually flicked the phone upside down with my thumb, embarrassed as all hell.

I kind of joked with the nurse, trying to feel her out; “Yea… I sure hope it’s not a pec tear (awkward laugh).” She kind of just stared at her computer. Sure enough, the ER doc comes out and confirms the pec tear.

March 21, 2013

So I go see the ortho. He tells me I have a torn pec. I already knew it was coming. He schedules surgery for Monday. I had been icing constantly pretty much since the tear, but the doc told me I could do pretty much anything before the surgery, and it wouldn’t make a different. I kept icing to minimize pain. We discuss realistic recovery for a bit, and I leave with my head held high.

Yea, that didn’t like long.

I went to go talk to the Dean of Students at my law school to ask for an extension on our 1L appellate brief. Choking back tears, I explain the situation, and she says that she’ll talk to my writing professor. I had left my laptop in my friend’s car, so I went to his place to pick it up. At this point, I really haven’t told anyone but my training partners, doctors, the dean, and some girl from college that I went on one date with the week before. I kind of just wanted to keep it to myself. I didn’t want to feel like a victim.

Anyway, once at my friend’s place, his roommate asks me what happened. I gather up a bit of courage, start explaining what happened, but as soon as I started talking about how long it would be before I would be able to bench again… I just fucking lost it. I had to go outside and just cried silently for a good five or ten minutes. My friends really helped me recover from this cathartic moment with Olive Garden and red velvet cupcakes.

March 22

I got my MRI. Confirmed type 1 rupture. As far as ruptures go, that’s basically the best case scenario.

Feeling confident, I go do some body weight lunges and safety bar squats.

I wouldn’t say I’m feeling down at this point, but I really don’t have any motivation to do anything. I don’t even think I showered after I got home.

March 23

I spent all day writing up a post-surgical anti-catabolic stack. Here’s what I have so far

25g creatine
50g BCAAs
4-6 MAG-10 pulses daily
A Multi
Vitamin C

The day ended on a high note. A girl asked me out. We had a good night. She’s something special. I tried to use the “it might be my last day on earth” line to get a dinner date for the following night, but she had other plans (or at least I believe that she does because the alternative would destroy me right now.)

Sunday, March 24 - the day before surgery

I haven’t done shit all day. I have headache. Pain’s not bad at all, really. It’s really non-existent. Surgery is tomorrow, and I’m using that as an excuse to be lazy. I really need to get working on that brief, but I decided this would be a better use of my time right now.

My surgery is tomorrow. I’m anxious, but ready to get my rehab going.

I’m pretty much caught up, now. Expect a more consistent template in the future.

Lucky you man. Dave Tate had a bunch of pec tears and he credits them with forcing his triceps to become inhumanly massive and powerful. Best of luck on your recovery. Stay patient.

Monday, March 25 - surgery day

Don’t want to type much. Surgery went great. I was groggy for about 10 minutes after I came to, but I’ve been 100% since then.

Talked to the doc on the phone. He used phrases like, “clean tear,” “most pristine tear I’ve ever seen,” “amazing tissue health,” and “incredibly strong tendons.” Assuming he doesn’t tell that to all of his patients, it was very encouraging. My first post-op appointment is Thursday. I’ll drop another update then.

March 26th-28th

I took this entire week off from class, basically just eating, sleeping in a recliner, and icing. Pain is pretty minimal, and I’m pretty much self-sufficient. I can’t do any sort of exercise until they remove my surgical gauze Thursday (I’ll sweat, get the gauze wet, and risk an ugly infection).

March 29th - April 4th.

People getting telling me that patience is the #1 key to recovery. I thought I would have no problem staying patient, but all I want to do today is move. My post-op is next Thursday (6 days from now), and I can’t do anything until then. Right now I’m just trying to keep following my cutting protocol for the spring.

Right now I’m at 10x bodyweight in Calories/day (2800) - 600-700 for MAG-10 pulses - a little bit extra because I’m sitting on my ass all day. So right now I’m at about 2100 Calories of whole food/day with the following supplement regimen.

45g BCAAs/25g creatine
4-5 pulses of MAG-10
4 Flameouts
Multi, ZMA, Vit C, Curcumin, CoQ10

I’ve been having a lot of trouble dealing my injury emotionally the past couple of days. All I’ve ever wanted to do is lift big weights, compete at a national level, and open a gym. I had a momentary lapse in judgment and considered anabolic therapy. Luckily, I caught this video by Clint Darden. If you’re injured and considering anabolic therapy, check out this video before you buy your stack.