Torn Pec

Back in October I suffered a torn pectoral; over 70% of the tendon seperated from my humerous and the muscle tore horizontally below my clavicle. The tendon was successfully reattached. My inept surgeon performed a second operation in an attempt to sew the muscle which predictably did not succeed. Worse, the surgical opening got infected. So in addition to being opened up twice for operations, I was opened a third time to wash out the infection. Finally, I hope I am on the road to recovery.

Would deep tissue massage help my recovery? I realize I will have to do rehab and take it slow and steady, however, I am wondering how the damage will affect my training. Can I still work my upper pec area? Can I overhead press? I am 51, and had been benching very sparingly prior to my injury due to problems with my opposite shoulder sustained in a car accident. My bench was in the area of 335, and I had 225 on the bar for 8 reps when I was hurt.

The surgeon said I should recoup close to 100% of what I was, however, I am terrified of retearing my pec. At this point in my life I am more interested in appearance than strength. What about pre-exhausting my chest with flies then dumbell benching with a lighter weight? Perhaps the same concept for shoulders? Any ideas would be a help.

Dave Tate has torn his teres minor (iirc) several times and still benches over 600.


Take it easy and slow. Don’t try to add too much weight to the bar too quickly.

If you’re more worried about appearance then you can go for lighter weights and higher volume. Like you said, you can use a variety of different exercises to hit the muscles from different angles.

And you’ve got to watch out for overcompensation. Like when you injured your shoulder and your body overcompensated and overstressed your pec, you might overcompensate for the pec and hurt something else. So… start off really light; even something that seems too light.

If you’re doing an exercise infrequently, don’t use your past weights as an indication of what you can do. If you hurt your shoulder and aren’t benching very much, don’t choose your weights on what you used to lift; go very light and work it up slowly.

Thanks very much for the suggestions.

My Ortho says the majority of his patients with blown tendons are in their early 50’s and that is because that is the time the males’ test levels suddenly drops.

I blew my left pec in 96. I tried to bring back that big ego bench and since my right side spent six years overcompensating for the weakness of the left I now have significant arthrits in my right shoulder and elbow.

Learn from my mistake. Your pec is going to heal fine but you may have to learn that there is more to what we do than benching big.