T Nation

Torn Pec - Road to Recovery

Hi everyone. I’m back after a brief hiatus from posting, with a fresh injury to boot. I tore my right pec 4 weeks ago. Since the incident I’ve been spending a lot of time seeing various doctors and also doing some independent research and talking to other lifters about what it will take to come back from this injury. Since I found limited info on the subject around the internet I thought it might be interesting if I documented this process in a thread here. In an ironic turn of events, I see that not one but TWO other forum members have posted about the exact same injury since I last visited the site about 24 hours ago. @legacy_aesthetics @evilwhitey if you guys would like to contribute to this feel free, I think that would be interesting. Anyway for anyone who is interested here is the story so far:

On 12/27 during my bench workout I felt my pec tear loose, and I knew right away I tore it. It was the first rep of a set of 5, with only 255 lbs. I can bench over 300 for singles regularly, and have benched 255 and above for reps countless times. I am 26 years old and have no history of muscle injury of any sort. To say I was frustrated is an understatement, and I don’t really have a good explanation as to why this happened aside from possibly overtraining or just some bad luck. I went to the ER straight from the gym, and as seems to be the story with the others they did nothing for me aside from giving me a muscle relaxer and sending me on my way. In the week after the injury I exhibited the textbook symptoms of limited range of motion and multicolored bruising of the pec and bicep area. I have no pain at rest, but have very little to no strength for any pushing or pressing movements. Due to my subpar health insurance and the unfortunate timing of the injury right before New Years’ weekend, I had to choice but to drag this process out over several weeks of appointments and referrals to various doctors. I now finally have gotten all the necessary x-rays along with an MRI of the chest and shoulder area, and have an official diagnosis of a pectoralis major tear. The muscle tore from the tendon completely, and the tendon tore partially from the bone as well. Surgery is highly recommended and that is the route I will be taking. Unfortunately this also happened right before the busiest time of my work year as I am a CPA. I currently I have minimum hours requirements at the office and will be traveling to several clients over the next month that are crucial to my career and my standing with my employers. So that adds another unfortunate wrinkle to this equation as far as when I can schedule the surgery and miss minimal time at work.

From a lifting standpoint I am obviously looking at a long road before I can compete, let alone train again. This injury has ended many powerlifting careers and I’d be lying if I said this didn’t make me consider hanging it up. I can’t stand the thought of saying it’s over though, and at 26 years old I’d really like to give my best effort to getting back to the platform at least one more time. I reached out to a few other lifters and had some talks which helped. From what I gather it could be a full 12 months after the surgery before I can really go full speed and compete again. This process will consist not only of surgery, recovery, and physical therapy, but also learning how to train again and completely rebuilding my bench technique. In the first couple weeks after the injury I was training what I could – safety squat bar work and isolation work – but I’ve backpedaled now and am really just resting and recovering as I don’t want to risk damaging the area any more before the surgery.

Thanks to anyone who read all that, I will post updates when I can. If all goes well and I can be diligent in posting again, I hope this can be a good resource for those who are dealing with the same injury.

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Welcome back, but that sucks, man.

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Sorry to hear that man!

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Sorry to hear. The pain, the sound of the tendon/muscle ripping, ugh, it honestly haunts me if I think about it.

I’ll follow this thread and give any input that I can. Thankfully I have decent insurance and a great deal of flexibility at work so that shouldn’t be a hurdle. Surgery will take place two weeks after my injury. From what I understand the sooner the better.

For me, the decision not to push myself to the limits with benching in the future is an easy one, but I’m also twelve years older and am starting to come to grips with the fact that I need to train smarter and with different goals moving forward.

I doubt I’ll ever bench more than 135lbs moving forward. If I could do that with reps I’d be happy.

I’ll probably still stay heavy (for me) with a somewhat neutral grip press but that’s at least 12 months out.

After a lot of reflection, I need to buckle down on my diet and work on getting and staying lean since I’m simply not going to be as active as normal plus my metabolism has been fairly tanked for the past few years. It’s VERY easy to get fat after an injury like this.

Best of luck with your recovery progress!

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There seems to be some bad luck going around the forums in regards to pec injuries these days. I already replied to both of the other guys so I won’t repeat myself re contributing factors to injury and preventing future re-injury but have a read of their threads to.

I’ll say that it’d be a good thing to get medical clearance to lift again. May prevent you from going insane. Even if it’s just leg press you can make it work. Huge legs have been built with leg press before and big quads make for a bigger total (big raw totals are built on squat and deadlift/sumo anyways) so it’s not like you’ll have nothing to work towards.

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Hopefully you can get surgery asap. Tears in the muscle belly typically fair much better with surgery as soon after the injury as possible.