How to engage muscle weight training correctly

Source: Taipei Medical University

Published on 2018-06-19

Excessive or incorrect weight training can be dangerous rather than helpful for fitness. When people exercised weights in the gym, a sudden “bang” sound popped on the chest, and the hands immediately developed symptoms of weakness and pain. They thought that they were just common muscle lacerations. They found out that it was a pectoralis major muscle break after visiting a doctor.

 Did you know?

Pectoralis major muscle breakage is not a common sports injury, and two cases noted recently were caused by weight training. Even professional fitness instructors have suffered this condition, so fitness enthusiasts should watch for the warning signs of muscle damage.

Mr. Yu returned to the clinic after surgery to have Sports Medicine Director Jia-Lin Wu of TMU Hospital’s Orthopedics Department (left) assess his recovery

Thirty-six-year-old Mr. Yu had been lifting weights for nearly seven years, three or four days a week. When he was doing bench presses two months ago, he heard a noise in his chest and his arm developed weakness and pain.

He thought it was only a general muscle laceration injury; besides the arm weakness and a chest swelling, there were no other symptoms and his arms moved without pain. But after three weeks of swelling, he consulted TMU Hospital doctors and found that he had suffered pectoralis major muscle rupture.

The pectoralis major muscle is located in front of the thorax. It is a fan-shaped muscle extending from the clavicle and sternum to the upper arm’s iliac crest. It helps the arm’s advancement, adduction and internal rotation.

Sports Medicine Director Jia-Lin Wu of TMU Hospital’s Orthopedics Department said such ruptures are rare because pectoralis major muscles are generally strong. Except for acute trauma, most pectoralis major muscle ruptures are sports injuries.

While active sports involving sudden application of force such as rugby and wrestling can cause this injury, weight training is its most common cause. The bench press is the most damaging because the arm turns outward and relies on the pectoralis major tendon – and damage occurs if weight exceeds the tendon’s load capacity.

Sometimes an acute rupture of the pectoralis major muscle can cause an audible noise before severe pain and hand weakness occur; later, swelling and blood stasis may occur and affect the arm.

If you enter the chronic phase, you may notice the different sizes of the pectoralis major muscles on both sides, different-shaped muscles and weakness in the bench press. Because some patients can freely move their arms, they may misjudge the injury as muscle strain, laceration, etc.

Delayed treatment may result in tendon retraction that cannot be directly repaired, requiring allograft tendons and longer recovery, as well as increased chance of further rupture. Thus prompt treatment is essential, and if symptoms are noted, a physician should be consulted to confirm diagnosis with ultrasound or MRI.