11 lessons from my first pec tear

I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was the second rep of a heavy set, not my working weight, but a heavy set on the bench press nonetheless. Lowering the bar to my chest, I started to feel a searing pain across the upper portion of my chest, like someone had jabbed something hot into the muscle. My ears were filled with what could only be described as the sound of the world’s largest velcro shoe tearing apart. I yelled for my spotter to take the bar, and he quickly helped me get the bar back to the rack, falling in just above the bottom pin of the bench. As I rose from the bench, not fully realizing what happened, I asked if he heard the same noise. He looked at me strangely; obviously he hadn’t.

Looking down, I could see an immediate shift in the colour of my skin, which was switching from a strangely orange hue (yes, I had a self tanning phase in high school) to a sickly purple. It eventually sunk in. It wasn’t someone slapping on a pair of the loudest velcro sneakers ever made, it was my pec tearing.

Being 18 at the time, I wasn’t prepared for the gravity of the situation. Despite delaying medical treatment, I did eventually learn, thanks to a lengthy late Friday night MRI, that I had partial muscultendinous tears in both pecs that could not be repaired surgically. Certainly not the worst outcome, but still something I’d rather do without. To compound the injury, my teenaged understanding of exercise physiology and strength training lead me astray in my recovery efforts. Over the course of the year I suffered many setbacks, mainly due to my inability to put my ego aside and create an effective rehabilitation program. Ten years later, my understanding of muscle function and tissue regeneration have improved quite a bit, and if I could go back in time, here are 11 things I would have done differently:Continue Reading