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Thread: Pec sprain / tear injury

  1. #1
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    Pec sprain / tear injury

    So during my heavy set of benching yesterday something in my upper pec (right by my shoulder) popped about 20 times in less than 2 seconds. Spotter grabbed the bar and of course my pec was immediately sore.

    This morning I've got some slight brusing on my bicep and my upper pec is swolen. Not terrible but not great, not much pain just feels extremely tight. Anyone have this happen, from looking around online it could be a tear but judging from my pain levels it's probably a bad pull / sprain.

    I'm currently seeing a physical therapist for my knee (which is getting better, just inflamed cartilage) so I will be seeing him about my pec at the next session. Just curious is anyone has any advice for handling this and / or rehabbing it?

    Will lax ball mashing, stretching, and ice be a good idea? Any advice is appreciated. Thanks guys.
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  2. #2
    illinois fattest lifter theBarzeen's Avatar
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    Flushing out an injury is usually my go-to plan.... but it's always good to go see a doctor first.

    It could always be old scar tissue popping too....
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  3. #3
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    What do you mean when you say flushing out an injury?
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  4. #4
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    He means ultra high rep movements that cause the area to be flush with blood which does help repair the torn tissue.

    However with bruising, it sounds like you definitely tore something. It may not be torn all the way however until you can get to your physio get some ice and anti inflams in you and it should help getting any swelling down.


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  5. #5
    Cardio bunny Alex.V's Avatar
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    NOOO!!!!! NO LAX BALL! NO STRETCHING!

    ANY tear is muscle trauma- consider it shredded tissue- the internal equivalent of an open wound. You wouldn't jam your thumb into an open gash and work it around, then stretch the surrounding skin, would you?

    Those sorts of interventions will make any tear DRAMATICALLY worse. None of that for AT LEAST a week. Gentle mobility work, get the blood flowing, move the part GENTLY through a NON PAINFUL range of motion, and otherwise let the body start to heal itself. You can work on the mobility and breaking up scar tissue once the tissue has a chance to start forming, otherwise a small tear that could be functional in 1-2 weeks ends up being a nagging injury that could plague you for months or years.

    btw, a pull/sprain IS a tear, just a small one.
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    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. I've got a doctors appointment scheduled for thursday morning, and my father is also a doctor (non-orthopedic) and we are both starting to think it is at least a partial tear. My upper pec has balled up a bit and the bruising is getting worse, so I will be avoiding weights until we get it figured out.

    I'll avoid mashing and stretching (had no idea that was bad). Hopefully it is a minor tear so I can get back in the gym, but we'll see.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Jonathan E's Avatar
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    Like stated, get the blood flowing and eat like a mofo. I recently just got over (Knock on wood) a small pec tear/strain about a month ago in the same area you're describing.
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    I had a complete tear of mine, day one wasnt too bad at all. I even squatted. Day 2 it was so bad I couldnt move it.
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  9. #9
    Cardio bunny Alex.V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DontTakeEmOff31 View Post
    I'll avoid mashing and stretching (had no idea that was bad).
    hehe, sorry, immediate reaction. That stuff is GREAT, once it's healed a bit. Just always makes me cringe whenever I see a guy who thinks he's strained something immediately go stretch it. It's like, good grief man, you just traumatically damaged tissue, so you're immediately going and pulling it apart even further? Working out at my gym, actually watched a guy (who turned out to be an ortho resident) go over to someone who'd done this exact thing, and actually slap him upside the head.
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  10. #10
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    You have a partial tear if your description is at least reasonably accurate. No need to see your doc in my personal opinion. Wait 1-2 days and get right back on the bench. Start VERY light (just the bar). Do 1-2 sets of 20 reps through a complete ROM. Contol the load and do not move quickly. Bench every day like this increasing the load daily in small increments (5-10 lbs max) until you are no longer able to increment and match reps. Once you reach that point take an extra day between sessions and resuming increasing the load with each session. Once you reach a load that is getting close to your previous best with 20 reps start spacing out your sessions normally and begin dropping the reps and increasing the loads.

    The above is exactly what I did to rehab a worse tear than you are describing.

    This is my personal advice, you should do what you are comfortable doing including seeing a doc if you want to.

  11. #11
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex.V View Post
    hehe, sorry, immediate reaction. That stuff is GREAT, once it's healed a bit. Just always makes me cringe whenever I see a guy who thinks he's strained something immediately go stretch it. It's like, good grief man, you just traumatically damaged tissue, so you're immediately going and pulling it apart even further? Working out at my gym, actually watched a guy (who turned out to be an ortho resident) go over to someone who'd done this exact thing, and actually slap him upside the head.
    You are 1000% correct.

  12. #12
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex.V View Post
    hehe, sorry, immediate reaction. That stuff is GREAT, once it's healed a bit. Just always makes me cringe whenever I see a guy who thinks he's strained something immediately go stretch it. It's like, good grief man, you just traumatically damaged tissue, so you're immediately going and pulling it apart even further? Working out at my gym, actually watched a guy (who turned out to be an ortho resident) go over to someone who'd done this exact thing, and actually slap him upside the head.
    I'm glad you posted that. I literally had no idea, since I always stretch and mash figured it was a good idea (was obviously very wrong on that one).

    You have a partial tear if your description is at least reasonably accurate. No need to see your doc in my personal opinion. Wait 1-2 days and get right back on the bench. Start VERY light (just the bar). Do 1-2 sets of 20 reps through a complete ROM. Contol the load and do not move quickly. Bench every day like this increasing the load daily in small increments (5-10 lbs max) until you are no longer able to increment and match reps. Once you reach that point take an extra day between sessions and resuming increasing the load with each session. Once you reach a load that is getting close to your previous best with 20 reps start spacing out your sessions normally and begin dropping the reps and increasing the loads.

    The above is exactly what I did to rehab a worse tear than you are describing.

    This is my personal advice, you should do what you are comfortable doing including seeing a doc if you want to.
    I agree with your assessment Chris and that sounds like a good rehab which I will most likely follow. I'm still going to go to the doctor just to get everything checked out and to be safe, he is a family friend of ours and will give me a very honest assessment.

    With your tear, were you able to do other exercises? Any back or lower body?
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  13. #13
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    If the tendon balled up like he indicated, it's good to see a doc to fully be aware of your options and possibly get an MRI.

    I realize your point, me personally I like to be as aware of what happened as I can before I proceed.


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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    If the tendon balled up like he indicated, it's good to see a doc to fully be aware of your options and possibly get an MRI.

    I realize your point, me personally I like to be as aware of what happened as I can before I proceed.
    That is my thought too.. you can guess and guess, on many things and still be oK, but with certian things---like pec tendon injuries are one in my mind, it is much better to just bite the bullet, see a doctor, demand the MRI and get things fully evaluated. Your rehab and ultimate return to normal function will be faster in the long run.
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  15. #15
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    If the tendon balled up like he indicated, it's good to see a doc to fully be aware of your options and possibly get an MRI.

    I realize your point, me personally I like to be as aware of what happened as I can before I proceed.
    He never said it balled-up? If he said that I would definitely think it was a complete rupture. He said it was swollen. Big difference as you know.

  16. #16
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DontTakeEmOff31 View Post
    I'm glad you posted that. I literally had no idea, since I always stretch and mash figured it was a good idea (was obviously very wrong on that one).



    I agree with your assessment Chris and that sounds like a good rehab which I will most likely follow. I'm still going to go to the doctor just to get everything checked out and to be safe, he is a family friend of ours and will give me a very honest assessment.

    With your tear, were you able to do other exercises? Any back or lower body?
    Yes, as I recall. It was a couple of years ago. I know I was able to train around it pretty effectively.

  17. #17
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    It's a partial tear. Got an MRI scheduled to evaluate it this upcomming week now, but doc says anywhere from 1.5 to 3 months no upper body lifting.

    So my question is now for anyone that has suffered from an injury with this amount of time off, how did you handle it? I basically eat a ton of food everyday to maintain my weight, did you back off or keep the same setup more or less and train around it?

    Any advice on handling / training around the inury is greatly appreciated?
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  18. #18
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DontTakeEmOff31 View Post
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I've got a doctors appointment scheduled for thursday morning, and my father is also a doctor (non-orthopedic) and we are both starting to think it is at least a partial tear. My upper pec has balled up a bit and the bruising is getting worse, so I will be avoiding weights until we get it figured out.

    I'll avoid mashing and stretching (had no idea that was bad). Hopefully it is a minor tear so I can get back in the gym, but we'll see.
    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    He never said it balled-up? If he said that I would definitely think it was a complete rupture. He said it was swollen. Big difference as you know.
    Glad it's a partial tear though. Full rupture would be pretty bad.


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  19. #19
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    Anyone know if the safety squat bar is safe to use with a partial pec tear?
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  20. #20
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DontTakeEmOff31 View Post
    It's a partial tear. Got an MRI scheduled to evaluate it this upcomming week now, but doc says anywhere from 1.5 to 3 months no upper body lifting.

    So my question is now for anyone that has suffered from an injury with this amount of time off, how did you handle it? I basically eat a ton of food everyday to maintain my weight, did you back off or keep the same setup more or less and train around it?

    Any advice on handling / training around the inury is greatly appreciated?
    Read my other post please. Docs don't know shit about rehabbing injuries (the VAST majority of them).

    When I tore my left triceps last March the MRI said it was a complete rupture (at least their interpretation of it) and they said I needed surgery. I still had a VERY limited ability to extend the elbow so I did not believe it was a complete rupture. I avoided surgery and was doing pressdowns with both hands with a weight I could do with 2 fingers on my good arm within about 3 days of the injury. I also trained upper and lower body around the injury. I found I could still squat just fine. I could not deadlift for several months. I could do laterals for my delts and light pulldowns for my back. I trained to the extent I could taking great care and never lost any size and was able to bring myself all the way back to my previous best and now am above my previous best on the raw bench press.

  21. #21
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    So, my point is, you do what you feel you need to do, but I personally listen to people like Louie Simmons (and myself frankly)over a doctor on rehabbing injury any day of the week.

    I personally think that 1-3 months is BULLSHIT.

  22. #22
    Wannabebig Member packers1504's Avatar
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    I had a complete rupture of my pec tendon in 2010. The easy way to tell for yourself if it is a complete tear or a partial tear is to try to do a push-up. If your pec is completely torn, the injured side will not raise at all when you try a push-up - only the uninjured side will go up. But it is very important that you get it diagnosed through MRI because there is a limited time window when a complete tear can be repaired surgically (about 5 weeks from date of injury to date of surgery). On a complete tear, the pec will continue to retract toward the center of the chest and you will see a noticeable hole where the pec meets the delt. My surgeon told me that after 5 weeks, it is almost impossible to reattach the pec tendon because it will have retracted too far for a successful outcome. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

  23. #23
    Cardio bunny Alex.V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    So, my point is, you do what you feel you need to do, but I personally listen to people like Louie Simmons (and myself frankly)over a doctor on rehabbing injury any day of the week.

    I personally think that 1-3 months is BULLSHIT.
    What he said. A LARGE part of this also depends where in the muscle the tear is. If the tear is at or near the tendon, chances are it'll bleed a bit less, and heal quite a bit more slowly. (Essentially the same reason for both- less blood flow). If the tear is in the muscle belly, the bruising will be pretty graphic and raunchy, but the prognosis is MUCH better. A muscle belly tear can have you training lightly again in a week or two.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member DontTakeEmOff31's Avatar
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    So I am waiting on the results from the MRI just to get a confirmation of the extent of the damage, but its been almost two weeks now (I wanted to take some time to not use my upper body at all) and I'm most likely going to start slowly rehabbing it. I would like to get back in the game as quick as I can but I want to be a little conservative with this, I'm afraid of hurting this again.

    Looking back I had a sprain (very slight tear) that I ignored in the pec and I'm starting to think this was the result of not giving that time to heal properly.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DontTakeEmOff31 View Post
    Anyone know if the safety squat bar is safe to use with a partial pec tear?
    You should be fine with that, maybe only use your one good side to hold the bar just to be safe though.
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