T Nation

Right Pec Won’t Contract Fully

New member, hello, i need some help. Ok, I’m nervous. Im 49 years old, been training for 35 years. 5”11, 235lbs. I train a power type system, low reps etc. So I’ve been kicking ass for months. I paramid up to 365 on flat bench, 315 for a single on incline, 365 on decline. For the past 10 years I’ve a had a nagging pain in my mid back, under the shoulder blade. Some times it flares up on the left, sometimes on the right. I’ve had to take a week off here and there and get a message. But it hasn’t been a problem in the past year at least.

So a few weeks ago it flared up on the right side and really came to a head and i took last week off. Huge knot and ropey feeling lump. Took the week off, got a message and ate well. I went back Monday to see how it felt and started warming up with 135 and something felt very off and unbalanced. Put on 225 and came down and could not press it. Had to call guy over to lift it off. Tried again, same. Get off the bench in a panic as i hit 365 2 weeks prior. No pain in chest, no bruising, not a tear. Full range of motion in shoulder. I pushed my thumb on my inner left pec and flex and it’s huge and hard. I push my thumb on my inner right pec and try to flex, nothing, all soft. I’m laying in bed now and i can move both pecs, but right seems weak and a bit softer.

Went to massage guy and he said get it checked out. Very sore on back, Right side, under the right shoulder blade. I’ve been training everything else, but very light. Everything feels kinda normal, but going super light. I have an apt w ortho on Friday to get it checked, but I’m scared as hell. There was no injury while lifting, just a chronic nagging injury i always dealt with and now it seems like something gave way. Any help, I’m scared.

I trained very light back today and felt fine. Still sore there under scapula but all pulling movements felt fine. Gonna do real light Bis and tris tomorrow. Looking forward to that. Hoping all is normal, and i think it will be. I just climbed out of bed and did ten push ups just to see. Felt pretty normal. Back is dull deep sore pain under shoulder blade. Gonna alternate ice and heat tomorrow. Keeping my hopes up. Took so many years to handle this kind of weight and it was taken away in the snap of the fingers.

Wow, lots of good help on this forum👍

MRI and EMG negative.

Hey there, I’ve had the same issue for approximately 2 years now. Same location of pain under right scapula and loss of strength and contraction in right pec no matter the weight, Reps, mind muscle focus, etc. I’ve seen a neurologist, recurved an mri, massage therapy, …pretty much every treatment specialist option available and no improvement. I’m told it’s a entrapped long thoracic nerve. Only other options I can think of is surgery and nerve hydrodisection.

I’m sorry you have this it really sucks. Let me know if you find a solution.


I’ve read that issues with the long thoracic nerve “paralyze” your seratus muscle. Like it forgets how to work to support your shoulder blade. And then the shoulder gets all wonky.

Check out this thread and see if you can “wake up” your serratus.


HHey gibby, thanx for the response and sorry to hear about you situation. Another follow up with the doctor a couple weeks back, no help. He just like wait and see since i told him my strength was slowly improving.

As far as training goes I’ve started working back up. The pain and feeling of being injured is pretty much gone. The fact that i did not try to train heavy and really took a several weeks to recover helped. I am currently back to 275x6 on flat and i am planning to attempt 315 in two weeks. It’s kinda depressing as the first time i hit 315 was 2003. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to 365, but i am improving. The pec itself feels much more firm now. If i really stare at the mirror i can see a slight imbalance in size from the left pec, but not much. And as my strength improves so does my coordination. If i am on my heaviest set the left side is definitely ready to drive full strength, but the right side just reaches a limit and no pushing in the world is going to make it go harder. The only good point is that the limit is steadily increasing. 225x8 feels nice and easy as it should. I still do occasionally feel like a tight rope feeling across the injury, but mostly not. My situation has turned around pretty quickly and i hope it continues to improve. As my strength improves i am going to learn from this and take months in between to just train light and focus on squeeze and form. I was training all out and 100% every week and it finally gave out. Now that i am getting back, I’m not going to make the same mistake. To conclude, I’m hoping my strength continues to slowly improve with no set backs. If i ever hit 365 or 385 again I’ll let ya know. I
Hope you improve as well. I kept if very light, high reps, i did a lot of one hand pec dec with the injured side, super light and kept my left hand on my right pec and tried to feel it squeeze, slow, with a long stretch at the open side of the rep. This seemed to help a lot. Good luck and be well.