Pectoralis Major Tears: Etiology and Prevention

Reynolds EJ, Semel RH, Fox RT, Coughlin SP, Horrigan JM, Colanero AF.  Chiropractic Sports Medicine 1993, Volume7, No 3:83-89.

This article presents the main causative factor of pectoralis major muscle ruptures that occur while one is performing the bench press on the basis of eight cases of bodybuilders, elite powerlifters, and recreational trainers, as well as provides recommendations of weight training that allow for gaining maximal strength gains while reducing the risk of injury.  Six of the eight cases presented were patients with dominant side tears and seven of these eight were on the right side.  The age ranges was 27-32 years with a mean age of 29.7 years.  Maximal weight did not seem to be responsible for any of the tears seen, bur rather, lack of recovery time appeared to be the major factor in all cases.  Anabolic steroids have been implicated in tendon pathology.  However, it is common knowledge that anabolic steroids have been used in bodybuilding and powerlifting.  The anabolic steroid becomes a given and not an independent variable in the cause of tendon and musculotendinous disruption.  The grip width on the barbell may also be a factor.  Pectoralis major ruptures have occurred with a variety of grip widths.  In this article, a new cause of pectoralis major muscle rupture is proposed that focuses in improper training methods.  Strength training involves volume, intensity, frequency, and duration.  With proper periodization of these four factors, it is possible to keep a muscle from overfatigue and thus avoid injury.  Coming excessive volume, intensity, frequency and duration results in a lack of recovery time for the muscles.  This results in injury and tearing.