This is Part 3 of a history of my recovery from a torn biceps tendon. (Read Part 1 and Part 2.) At five weeks, my left bicep is squishy soft and the atrophy is hard to take. I still cannot fully flex the bicep due to nervous system shut down. The muscle tissue simply will not fire. This is one of the body’s many self protective mechanisms, another reason I am continually humbled and grateful for this miracle of human biology I call home. In better news, by the 15th week post injury, the strength and size of the injured arm have almost fully recovered.
My arm was very sore when I woke up this morning. Yesterday, I tweaked it while stretching. Luckily, as the day went on, the pain improved. I don’t think I set myself back. Nonetheless, I got the crap scared out of me, which was a good reminder that I’m still broken.
The atrophy of my arm is depressing. In good news, my legs have grown and my squat strength has improved. My vertical jump and leg flexibility have also improved.
- I gradually increased the eccentric only bicep curls to 7.5 pounds.
- I started hammer curls with 10 pound dumbbells.
- Reverse drag curls with an empty EZ bar.
- I finish each rehab session with 5 to 7 minutes of occlusion training, which has been difficult to get used to. The cuff essentially makes me feel less pain at the insertion site, which means I have to exercise extreme caution. I’ve been using 5 pound dumbbells and have actually gotten a little pump in the biceps, which felt amazing. (Stop shrinking, bicep! Please!)
- On a Memorial Day Camping trip, I was able to play bar chords at the 7th fret with only minimal pain, an indication that supination strength is improving. The rye whiskey being passed around the campfire may have had something to do with this, however.
- I perform one set of dumbbell bicep curls pain free with 10 pounds. Hooray!
- I’m doing everything I can do to keep moving and train around the injury. I’m continuing to train the good half of my upper body. I warm up and move every day to increase circulation and promote healing.
- I have begun using the left arm to lift and carry my one gallon water jug.
- I am starting to notice that my bicep has not only atrophied, but has changed it’s position on my arm due to the lengthening of the tendon. I don’t know why this suddenly became apparent to me today.
- The arm is still sore every morning when I wake up. Soreness only lasts for about 10 minutes.
- I’ve started carrying heavier items like 6 foot step ladders.
- I’ve started using the left arm to open doors.
- I can fret the guitar fully with only minor pain if I am trying a fast bar chord change.
- I can hold a handstand for 20 seconds with no pain
- I can do lat pulldowns with 70 pounds with no pain.
- I can do bent rows with 95 pounds with no pain.
- Any weight above these thresholds causes the biceps to fire, which hurts and scares me.
- The level of atrophy is depressing. (I desperately want to train this thing which looks nothing like my other arm.)
Day 44: Pain update
- The sharp burning pain has mostly been replaced with a dull ache whenever I over-activate the biceps. This activation threshold is gradually increasing, which to me is a good sign that things are progressing properly.
Days 45 to 60
- I continue to train my legs intensely and train my upper body any way possible.
Days 60 to 90
I’m healing! I am stronger every day. Pain becomes more rare with each passing day.
The injured arm is 99% as strong as it was before the injury. I have occasional pain in the end range of motion. I am still nervous about getting on rings or doing preacher curls. Full size has returned to the injured arm. I am very happy and feel very lucky.
How I Recovered in Under 4 Months
- Collagen Hydrosylate supplementation twice daily
- Strength training the rest of my body 5 days a week
- The benefits of this cannot be overstated. The body must be kept in an active state. This speeds chemical processes responsible for tissue regeneration and improves circulation.
- Training around the injury is of utmost importance.
- Training half of my upper body imparted strength to the injured side. This phenomenon is known as the “contralateral effect”; also called “cross education” or “cross-training effect”.
- Eccentric training of the injured arm every 2 days
- 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night
- 1.5 gallons of water per day minimum
- Dry Sauna 5 days per week to increase growth hormone
- 2 grams of fish oil per day
- 6000 iu of vitamin D3 per day
- I eat like a pro athlete. I treat my body like healing is a life and death matter.
- Lots of cruciferous vegetables
- Lots of clean protein, (fish, pasture raised chicken, grass fed meats, goat whey protein)
- No sugar, no sweeteners of any kind
- No processed carbs
- No hydrogenated oils
- No alcohol
- Other supplements I used
- gotu kola
- chelated minerals
- vitamin C
- Psychological Factors that sped my recovery
- Daily Meditation
- Feeling a sense of gratitude every day for the good things in my life
- Keeping a sense of humor
- Focusing on what I still CAN do physically, (and doing it), not focusing on what I CAN’T do
Do you have a torn tendon?
Reach out to me. I have done a tremendous amount of research to ensure I will heal quickly and completely from this injury. I can help.