Lacey

Pulled Chest Muscle - how to rehab and prevent in future?

8 posts in this topic

Hello everyone!

Yesterday I went to a new gym to check it out. I usually practice yoga in my flat , which isnt fantastically insulated and thus i have a hard time getting properly warm. Thus, my flexibility is usually limited during these winter months, much to my dismay!

The gym was quite warm though, and after a 2 mile run on the treadmill and some leg presses i was thoroughly warm- I went to stretch off in the studio and was so much more flexible than I ever have been, especially in my back! (Not naturally flexible there whatsoever) . So I was thrilled, getting a great overhand grip on my toes in king pigeon and pressing my head to my foot for the first time on both sides.

I also practiced some handstands and other inversions, plus general flow.

Anyway shortly after i got home I found I was having twingey pains along my sternum when i moved my body in certain ways. It's worst when i drop my head back and raise my arms (aka the same sort of movement of king pigeon) and it's even "cracked" a few times which has never happened :s (i'm aware that the sternum is in fact a joint, but it is jarring every time it happens!)

I suspect I've basically "pulled" my chest ligaments , and that it wasnt open enough to perform the backbends i was doing. I plan on taking a few weeks off of all upper body movements, but was wondering whether anyone else has ever experienced this and what I might be able to do to ensure it heals properly, besides resting?

I will probably try to visit a doctor as a precaution, especially if there's no significant improvement over the weekend.

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You should go to a doctor to find out exactly what the problem is. If you are having 'cracking' I don't know what the expression cracking means. And you should go as soon as possible. This doesn't sound like an emergency but you will want to know what the problem is so you don't inadvertently make it worse. And you will also want to get the rehabilitation underway as soon as possible. If it's just a sore muscle those can get better fairly quickly, a few days sometimes. An issue with a joint will take much longer and have to be much more careful. Your doctor should tell you what you can and can not do.

If you are doing things in yoga that you have never done before work into these slowly. Breathe deep and strong, listen to your breath and let it guide you as you are practicing. This will help you work in a safe place for your body.

When your doctor gives you instructions we may be able to help you translate them into the yoga version:)

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I know that thrilling feeling from the increased flexibility after getting extremely warm! I used to do yoga after running, but, I overstretched one time. Now I make an effort to be more conservative in the stretches even though I feel like I can go farther.

I haven't had this cracking in the sternum or chest area before, but, it could be caused by tendons or ligaments pulling across a joint, similar to strumming a guitar string over something raised. I get a cracking / popping sensation when I push my arm forward or rotate in a certain direction (I pulled my neck to the point it affected my shoulder girdle). I asked my physical therapist about it - for me, he said it was tendons flipping over the joint (not joints rubbing against each other), so the downside is irritation and inflammation. He suggested adding some pushing exercises for me to help bring my shoulder forward and stop that cracking sound.  Hopefully after you rest your chest / back may go back into its natural alignment so the cracking will stop, but if not, follow up with some physical therapy so you can make sure this injury doesn't lead to an imbalance.

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My sternum does the popping/cracking sound every now and then, but it's never been associated with any kind of pain and/or discomfort. To be quite honest I never paid much attention to this situation as it's never bothered me.

I hesitate to say that it's probably just a pulled ligament or an overstretched muscle, as you mention. Can't think of a better advice than rest and to go easy on backbends once you feel you're up to practicing once again.

 

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8 hours ago, Hildegard said:

My sternum does the popping/cracking sound every now and then, but it's never been associated with any kind of pain and/or discomfort. To be quite honest I never paid much attention to this situation as it's never bothered me.

I hesitate to say that it's probably just a pulled ligament or an overstretched muscle, as you mention. Can't think of a better advice than rest and to go easy on backbends once you feel you're up to practicing once again.

 

Reassuring to hear it happens to someone else! It's not painful when it happens, it just never happened until my chest became painful so it surprised me. But the pop itself isnt accompanied by sharp pain or anything, just feels like a joint popping . 

13 hours ago, yogafire said:

I know that thrilling feeling from the increased flexibility after getting extremely warm! I used to do yoga after running, but, I overstretched one time. Now I make an effort to be more conservative in the stretches even though I feel like I can go farther.

I haven't had this cracking in the sternum or chest area before, but, it could be caused by tendons or ligaments pulling across a joint, similar to strumming a guitar string over something raised. I get a cracking / popping sensation when I push my arm forward or rotate in a certain direction (I pulled my neck to the point it affected my shoulder girdle). I asked my physical therapist about it - for me, he said it was tendons flipping over the joint (not joints rubbing against each other), so the downside is irritation and inflammation. He suggested adding some pushing exercises for me to help bring my shoulder forward and stop that cracking sound.  Hopefully after you rest your chest / back may go back into its natural alignment so the cracking will stop, but if not, follow up with some physical therapy so you can make sure this injury doesn't lead to an imbalance.

Thanks for the tip :) i think i will definitely go see someone if it keeps popping! I already have a history of imbalance in my neck and shoulders (well really my entire left side!) so I would hate to go backwards, since things seem to finally be getting better.

20 hours ago, Anahata said:

You should go to a doctor to find out exactly what the problem is. If you are having 'cracking' I don't know what the expression cracking means. And you should go as soon as possible. This doesn't sound like an emergency but you will want to know what the problem is so you don't inadvertently make it worse. And you will also want to get the rehabilitation underway as soon as possible. If it's just a sore muscle those can get better fairly quickly, a few days sometimes. An issue with a joint will take much longer and have to be much more careful. Your doctor should tell you what you can and can not do.

If you are doing things in yoga that you have never done before work into these slowly. Breathe deep and strong, listen to your breath and let it guide you as you are practicing. This will help you work in a safe place for your body.

When your doctor gives you instructions we may be able to help you translate them into the yoga version:)

Thanks for the help :) Doctor is on my list this week. I've been very close to overhead grips and foot-to-head action the past several months, so it wasnt completely new, but I think my mistake was in the timing- i held the poses for much longer than I ever have before, and did them many times (out of excitement) and I see now that I probably overdid it, and should have halted at the first sign of niggling pain rather than ignore it! A lesson to take from my body in patience :)

 

Thanks for all the replies, you are all so helpful! I'm happy to say it's improved significantly over the last couple days (I injured it on thursday).  I'm still going to take a full week off upper body and come back to anything chest related very slowly. As of now it's neck extension that seems to cause it the most pain (which makes me think the initial injury occurred during kapotosana, which i partially entered earlier in my practice that day. )

In any case, i'm looking forward to getting back to my practice so I can learn more from you all :) Thanks again!

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If you think it is only a minor issue then you could try working gently on the area. I understood your first post to be something quite serious. Injured muscles and connective tissue do need to be used in order to heal properly and more quickly. Be gentle, do things that feel good and don't aggravate the injury. When you take your arms overhead try keeping your ears inline with your biceps, instead of tipping your head all the way back. Notice the difference in the action of the pose, how the torso lengthens and bends differently.

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Lacey, I am recovering from what sounds like a similar injury.  I will say that it is taking longer than I thought it would (over two months so far).  After weeks of pain, I went to a doctor to rule out anything serious.  Rest, ibuprofen, and heating pad are the things recommended for my particular injury.  Last week, I  went 7 days without pain (finally), so I did a great yoga practice.  In my third or fourth chaturanga, I felt the sharp pain again along the left side of my sternum in a vertical line.  It's not too bad, because I stopped, took ibuprofen, and used the heating pad.  So, please take it easy.  This sucker seems to take a long time to heal.  Sending you healing thoughts!

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On 1/24/2016 at 3:43 PM, Anahata said:

If you think it is only a minor issue then you could try working gently on the area. I understood your first post to be something quite serious. Injured muscles and connective tissue do need to be used in order to heal properly and more quickly. Be gentle, do things that feel good and don't aggravate the injury. When you take your arms overhead try keeping your ears inline with your biceps, instead of tipping your head all the way back. Notice the difference in the action of the pose, how the torso lengthens and bends differently.

Judging from how it has healed, I am thinking it is indeed only minor! I will keep in mind the ears/biceps tip- that is very helpful for being mindful of alignment! I've been doing a bit of stretching to keep it mobile :)

On 1/25/2016 at 2:35 AM, Lorelei said:

Lacey, I am recovering from what sounds like a similar injury.  I will say that it is taking longer than I thought it would (over two months so far).  After weeks of pain, I went to a doctor to rule out anything serious.  Rest, ibuprofen, and heating pad are the things recommended for my particular injury.  Last week, I  went 7 days without pain (finally), so I did a great yoga practice.  In my third or fourth chaturanga, I felt the sharp pain again along the left side of my sternum in a vertical line.  It's not too bad, because I stopped, took ibuprofen, and used the heating pad.  So, please take it easy.  This sucker seems to take a long time to heal.  Sending you healing thoughts!

Sorry to hear it's been taking so long! It sounds like precisely the same injury, although I'm happy to report that I am largely pain free 5 days post injury. I'm still taking it very easy regardless, and will be extra careful when reapproaching backbends in the future. 

As a general update - as of yesterday I was essentially pain free and able to extend my neck without any twinges . It still doesn't feel quite right, a little tight, so i'm going to stick to my week off upper body before i do anything overly intense, but am gradually introducing gentle heart openers. I did practice on sunday but kept it light :)

I'm guessing I just caught it early enough that I didnt do any real damage. Again, super appreciative of all of your iput, it's really put me at ease and made me feel more comfortable in moving forward in my practice after this passes! 

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