T Nation

Torn Pec Help

Long time lurker that finally had enough reason to go through with the sign up stuff. Unfortunately that reason is I blew my left pec out Saturday. Some background, I’m 39, and started lifting again about a year ago after a 15 year lay off. I started back on a 3-1 off split and made good progress but plateaued about 6 months in.

I did some research, mostly here, and couldn’t believe that many had moved to a 5 day split with each muscle group trained once a week. So in January, I decided to give that system a try. I loved it. I started making gains again, and not having to start that second body part tired was a great relief.

I’m not really a bodybuilder…because I don’t follow a diet much…but I lift like a bodybuilder, and figure this forum would be the closest match.

So Saturday I’m training chest, I got through my 2 compound movements, Hammer Incline and Hammer Wide Chest feeling good…actually added reps. Moved on to flat bench flys, first working set 75lbs DBs ten reps with 2 more or so in the tank.

Second working set, first 3 reps smooth and easy, 4th rep…it felt like a cold knife in the pec delt area. It hurt enough for an “aw fuck…” at the time, but there has been no pain at all since. If my left bicep weren’t rosy red and violet from elbow to armpit with similar coloring in a second location from arm pit to nipple I would have tried to train shoulders Monday. I currently don’t have medical, but I’m pretty positive that it hasn’t detached from the bone…

I know the obvious advice is see a MD but that isn’t happening…at least until I’m dumb enough to do something that makes pain meds necessary…

I did some research on torn pecs but didn’t find much. I’m wondering if anyone here has experience with this injury? How long did it take before you were able to start training shoulders, back, and arms again?

Since January, I’ve been doing 5 exercises for chest, 2 compound, 3 isolation, 2 working sets to failure, sometimes I throw in a drop set each exercise, once a week…I don’t think I was overtrained considering that’s only one exercise more then I was using on 3 on and 1 off…

But chest is done the day after legs in my current routine, and my sleep patterns and overall “feel” following leg day is beat to hell…The other thing that bothers me is my numbers have been climbing since switching to this routine in Jan…That doesn’t happen if you are overtrained…I don’t want to be gun shy in the weight room…but I really can’t isolate the cause of the injury…

If it helps, I’m 6 '4 290, trying to dump some weight, but wasn’t close to calorie starved at the time of injury. Any ideas, thoughts, anecdotes, greatly appreciated.

i’ve torn a few different muscle groups. if it’s not detached then i would get back ASAP to the gym. you don’t want scar tissue to build up. i would start with doing light pressing movements but limit the ROM. stuff like high board presses and pin presses are good. over the next few weeks slowly increase the ROM. do other stuff and just test the level of pain. i was able to do pretty much any other stuff as long as i didn’t really go too heavy.

bottom line… get back in there and slowly get your ROM back.

Thanks for the advice MM. It’s actually pretty much what I wanted to hear. I was expecting a month or so of nothing but legs or cardio type advice. And I hate cardio. So I’ll pretty much let the pain be my guide as far as ROM goes…I’m not going to really know until I try because I’m just amazed at how bad this looks without any pain at all…This sounds like I’m full of shit, but right now it feels like ROM isn’t compromised at all…

But 2 minutes after doing it there was no pain, yet when I jumped on a machine incline pinned real light, there was no strength there at all…I guess I’ll go in tomorrow and see what it feels like real light on pressing movements.

Just as a heads up, post-injury pain isn’t necessarily huge with a complete tendonous detachment. When I blew my triceps about 1.5 years ago (at age 39), my pain was maybe a 3 on a 10 scale, subsiding to almost 0 by 10 days. Funny, the scenario was not unlike your story: 4th or 5th rep, going well then riip!

Of course, I eventually went black and blue from wrist to shoulder, so if you’re just pink / red without much dark bruising after a week or so, it may not have been a complete rupture (just speculation; I’ve never had a pec tear). MRI is often necessary to diagnose such a thing but that’s big $ without medical coverage.

I was surprised when a surgeon friend of mine said that there can be quite a bit of strength even after a complete rupture due to the connecting fascia - even before scar tissue forms. PT generally focuses on ROM as has been said. There’d have to be a lot of caution not to worsen the injury if there’s a partial rupture. Reattachment surgeries (not in your case, I know) are best done within ~2 weeks due to the rapidity of scar tissue formation.

Interestingly one orthopedic physician told me that complete pec ruptures are almost exclusively seen in steroid users, because it’s generally they who can generate the necessary forces. (Not implying your gassed, it’s just an interesting opinion regarding prevalence.)

[quote]Lonnie Lowery wrote:
Just as a heads up, post-injury pain isn’t necessarily huge with a complete tendonous detachment. When I blew my triceps about 1.5 years ago (at age 39), my pain was maybe a 3 on a 10 scale, subsiding to almost 0 by 10 days. Funny, the scenario was not unlike your story: 4th or 5th rep, going well then riip!

Of course, I eventually went black and blue from wrist to shoulder, so if you’re just pink / red without much dark bruising after a week or so, it may not have been a complete rupture (just speculation; I’ve never had a pec tear). MRI is often necessary to diagnose such a thing but that’s big $ without medical coverage.

I was surprised when a surgeon friend of mine said that there can be quite a bit of strength even after a complete rupture due to the connecting fascia - even before scar tissue forms. PT generally focuses on ROM as has been said. There’d have to be a lot of caution not to worsen the injury if there’s a partial rupture. Reattachment surgeries (not in your case, I know) are best done within ~2 weeks due to the rapidity of scar tissue formation.

Interestingly one orthopedic physician told me that complete pec ruptures are almost exclusively seen in steroid users, because it’s generally they who can generate the necessary forces. (Not implying your gassed, it’s just an interesting opinion regarding prevalence.)

[/quote]

you just wanted to post that seductive pic of yourself Lonnie:)

I didn’t realize you were so jacked when i met you in Arizona.

[quote]Lonnie Lowery wrote:
Just as a heads up, post-injury pain isn’t necessarily huge with a complete tendonous detachment. When I blew my triceps about 1.5 years ago (at age 39), my pain was maybe a 3 on a 10 scale, subsiding to almost 0 by 10 days. Funny, the scenario was not unlike your story: 4th or 5th rep, going well then riip!

Of course, I eventually went black and blue from wrist to shoulder, so if you’re just pink / red without much dark bruising after a week or so, it may not have been a complete rupture (just speculation; I’ve never had a pec tear). MRI is often necessary to diagnose such a thing but that’s big $ without medical coverage.

I was surprised when a surgeon friend of mine said that there can be quite a bit of strength even after a complete rupture due to the connecting fascia - even before scar tissue forms. PT generally focuses on ROM as has been said. There’d have to be a lot of caution not to worsen the injury if there’s a partial rupture. Reattachment surgeries (not in your case, I know) are best done within ~2 weeks due to the rapidity of scar tissue formation.

Interestingly one orthopedic physician told me that complete pec ruptures are almost exclusively seen in steroid users, because it’s generally they who can generate the necessary forces. (Not implying your gassed, it’s just an interesting opinion regarding prevalence.)

[/quote]

at least you dont have gyno

Thanks for the info LL. I would post a pic, but I’m technologically inept…I don’t even own a digital camera. The bruise on my arm is pretty similar to the one in you’re picture…except mine wraps around the bicep and is still getting darker in color in spots, fading in others, and has now extended a little past my elbow. The bruise on my outer pec is really nasty today…just purple all over.

I don’t use AAS. I did between 17-20, but then it became a felony, and it just wasn’t worth the risk. I think the health risks are way overstated, and I don’t make any sort of moral judgments about those who use them. By the time I was 23 I was close to the numbers I had when I was using AAS, but right now I’m not that close to those numbers on most lifts…not on chest for sure.

I popped into the gym today and tried some real light stuff on the bp machine. Pain was substantial without any real weight…substantial enough that I’m going to rest it a while before trying pin presses or other ROM stuff. This might sound a little weird, but it almost feels like there is some sort of reflex that keeps me from applying force before the pain even starts.

The thing that is really bothering me is the way it happened…If it were a forced rep situation or a struggling with the weight situation or a heavy compound lift situation I could figure out how to work around it…this was just out of nowhere. I guess I’m going to have to try that mind muscle shit with light weights on chest flys.

Thanks for the info guys. If anyone has any ideas of how to lessen the risk of it recurring when I resume lifting upperbody it would be greatly appreciated.