Pulled Chest Muscle: Signs of a Pulled Chest Muscle

How long does a pulled chest muscle take to heal?

It typically takes a few days for someone to recover from a grade 1 pectoralis or chest muscle pull, according to EXOS.

Early icing and proper rest helps. However, more severe pulls can require much longer and more intensive treatment and recovery efforts.

Symptoms of a Pulled Chest Muscle

A pulled chest muscle, also known as pectoral strain, is primarily marked by pain in the upper and/or lower region of the pectoral area.

In order to properly diagnose the severity of a pulled muscle strain, medical professionals group the injury into three grades.

A grade one strain produces discomfort of the chest, especially when the injured muscle is being used.

The injured party may feel the need to “baby” his or her movements by limiting mobility of the arms and shoulders.

Some loss of strength in the shoulders and chest may be perceived but should not be significant.

A grade two strain shows more intense symptoms than a grade one.

This type of strain is marked by pain in the chest when the pectoral muscles are in use and some discomfort while the muscles are at rest.

There may be slight bruising on the injured chest muscle along with slight swelling and redness.

There will be a noticeable loss of strength

Will be a noticeable loss of strength and the injured party will feel the need to restrict movements to avoid intensified pain.

A grade three strain is marked by significant pain in the chest area when the muscles are in use and at rest. One will also experience loss of strength in the chest, arms, and shoulders.

Movements involving the arms, shoulders, and chest will feel very difficult and will be severely limited.

The chest wall will likely display signs of inflammation such as swelling, redness, and elevated warmth of the affected tissues.

There will likely be a physical deformity of the muscle, such as a lump or an indentation. The area may also be affected by severe bruising deep under the skin.

Causes of Pectoral Muscle Strain

The most common cause of pectoral muscle strain is quick, over extension of the muscle.

This is most likely to occur in athletes such as tennis and baseball players who tend to make quick, powerful movements with the chest muscles.

If the muscles are pulled too far the fibers will develop tears which weaken the muscles and cause pain and limited muscle use for the injured party.

Pectoral muscle strain can also be caused by overuse of the muscles.

This is common in individuals who participate in sports or who frequently use the chest muscles for work. Direct trauma to the pectoral muscle may also cause a strain to occur.

Treatment Options

The primary treatment for a one or two-grade pulled chest muscle is rest.

As soon as the injury takes place the individual should refrain from using the chest muscles, which might involve keeping the shoulders and arms as still as possible.

To reduce swelling, redness, and the initial discomfort one may apply an ice pack to the injured muscle for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes the individual must refrain from using the ice pack for half an hour to allow the skin to recover.

Excessive use of the ice pack could permanently damage skin and muscle tissues.

Ibuprofen or naproxen are over the counter anti-inflammatory medications that will help to combat swelling, redness, and discomfort caused by inflammation.

Immobilization is the best way to reduce unnecessary movement of the chest muscles. One may try using an ace bandage to tightly wrap the torso.

This will stabilize the muscles and prevent twitching and other restless movements.

Stage three strains

Stage three strains should definitely be treated by a doctor.

This type of strain could be indicative of a severe injury. If complete loss of muscle use occurs then the injury should be treated as a medical emergency as it could be possible that the muscles have been completely severed.

Severed muscle requires a surgical procedure in order to reattach the tissues.

When such an injury occurs, time is definitely of the essence as the longer one waits to have the muscle reconnected, the greater the risk there is of the muscle being permanently weakened.

Preventing Future Strains

The key to preventing future strains is to be cautious when performing sports, active hobbies, and work tasks.

Knowing one’s limitations and keeping firm control of the body’s movements is key to preventing this type of injury.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to prevent a pulled chest muscle, especially when repetitive actions at work or home require use of these muscles.

Those who suffer from recurring muscle strains may benefit from the use of a brace or supportive undergarments to keep the chest stable.

Causes and Treatments for Chest Muscle Spasm Symptoms

Muscle spasms in the chest can be quite ordinary to younger people, as the young have a tendency to think they are immortal in a sense and they blow it off as too many push-ups or heavy bench presses.

However, as we get older, it becomes alarming. We might think we are having a heart attack and rush to the hospital, only to discover it is a spasm. 

Wow! What a sigh of relief that is indeed.

There can be several causes from electrolyte deficiencies to bad posture or chronic coughing and sometimes possibly some more serious underlying disorders.

Regardless, chest muscle spasm symptoms, when they are chronic, should be something examined by a physician at some point. Let us take a look at some of the potential causes and solutions.

Chest Muscles

It is first important to understand what the muscles of the chest actually are.

Surprisingly, they do involve muscles in the chest, but there are also muscles in the back which support the chest muscles.

They are all involved in movements of the arms and shoulders and in proper breathing. So, spasms of these muscles can occur for any number of reasons. Many muscles are involved.

First, there are the pectoralis major muscles.

These are the large muscles of the chest typically referred to as the “pecs.” They are the most obvious and the ones which bodybuilders boast the most.

Then there are the pectoralis minor muscles, running just below these.

Next, there are the intercostals muscles just below the pectorals on the chest and they run along the ribs and assist with breathing while helping with pectoral chest muscle movement.

The coracobrachialis muscles, along with the pectoralis muscles connect to the humerus bone, scapula, and ribs to allow arm to move forward. While the teres major and the latissimus dorsi help you move your arms back, stretching the chest muscles backward.

Rotation of the arms and chest is achieved by the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infranspinatus, and teres minor.

These muscles run from the scapula to the humerus, or “funny bone, “and all of these are connected to the chest muscles.

It seems confusing, but these are the chest muscles. Don’t worry; there will not be a test.

Causes Of Chest Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms are basically electrolyte imbalances.

Electrolytes are minerals. The minerals are calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, and potassium. 

When the balance of these minerals goes even slightly off due to deficiencies or dehydration. Spasms of muscles result and the symptoms are extremely painful.

Pain from spasms is alarmingly distressing and sometimes feels as though a muscle is going to rip right off of a bone.

In extreme cases, rarely, the muscle actually will rip from the bone, but this almost never happens, so don’t fear.

It can happen at any age to anyone. Usually a lack of proper nutrition coupled with a lack of water is the culprit and it is easily fixed.

When it comes to chest muscle spasm

When it comes to chest muscle spasm symptoms. Medical attention should be sought just in case there is a more serious issue at hand.

Usually there is nothing serious, though coronary arterial spasms can happen, particularly in those over the age of 40. It is best to be safe and call an ambulance just to be safe.

There may be no serious issue, but why take chances? Typically, it is just the usual electrolyte imbalance just like any other muscle spasm in the body.

The various chest or back muscles mentioned previously are contracting and going into spasm and the pain is vicious. Electrolytes and water are needed with some rest and ease.

The causes can be minor injuries such as pulled muscles or sprains or even fibromyalgia which has gone undiagnosed. Even medications can cause certain minerals to become depleted rapidly.

Maybe there have been missed meals or not enough fruits and vegetables in the diet. Sometimes it isn’t enough salt in the diet or just too much sweating and not enough hydration.

You know, water is important

You know, water is important and, as we get older, we need to be sure to get plenty of fluids. We can’t go as long without the proper fluids as we could when we were younger.

We have to take better care of ourselves. Also, pulling a muscle when you are trying to score a goal on the field against the younger ones is way more painful at 40 than when you were 20!

The pain is blinding and intolerable, so it can be frightening. Try fluids. Lay down. Get some fruit juices and some other folks with some gray hairs to bring on the fruit juices.

They will most likely understand. Get some ice cubes and sport drinks and anything with good electrolytes. Orange juice is loaded with potassium and magnesium.

It is one of the best cures, but it won’t cure a muscle pull. This will take rest and time. Some over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can help ease the pain, but it will take rest and time to recover.

At any rate, rest will be necessary and it will not hurt to get a check-up from a qualified physician, especially if there is a pulled chest muscle, which can happen more frequently as you get a little older.

Stress Fractures and Chest Wall Injuries

As we get a little older, we realize the importance of trying to stay fit, but our bones are becoming a bit more brittle.

There is a tendency to become more intense in the gym and get into some intense exercises, all with good intentions.

Sometimes there may be a notion to take this a bit too far and, over time, the bones develop tiny fractures known as stress fractures. These are not blatant breaks.

In other words, the bones don’t break outright. Tiny breaks or fractures develop over time until pain develops and muscle spasms will develop. Particularly in the chest, causing chest muscle spasm symptoms.

Next thing you know, you end up at the doctor worried about heart problems only to discover you just have spasms due to stress fractures and chest wall injuries.

These are tiny injuries to bones and cartilage which inflame the muscles and cause spasms. It is quite painful.

Your doctor will tell you

Your doctor will tell you that your ribs are injured and probably prescribe some light painkillers and tell you to take it easy for awhile.

They will recommend some electrolytes and consistent hydration and nutritional changes. You should pay attention.

If you follow these protocols and rest, you can regain your strength and get back on your feet in a relatively short period of time.

The key to recovery is taking it slowly and getting through the mid-life crisis in order to move on and get going again.

You already know that fitness will keep you healthy and help you live a better, healthier life. It is just that you can’t do it like you could when you were 20 or 30, that’s all.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises can improve the flexibility of your pectoral muscles. You can do them standing upright by engaging your arms.

Try shoulder rotations in which you bend your elbow 90 degrees and rotate your shoulder. Moving your lower arm away from your body as far as you can.

Other stretches include raising both extended arms overhead or out to your sides and slightly pulling them back to emphasize the stretch in your chest.

Hold each stretch about 10 seconds and work your way up to 30 seconds. Repeat the stretches 10 times, one to three times per day.

Light-Resistance Exercises

Light resistance can gradually and safely increase the strength of your chest muscles.

Simply pushing your fist into your hand for five seconds while resisting the tension is an effective exercise that’s ideally done 10 times.

The plank exercise also strengthens your chest, but before doing a full plank in which you hold your body up on your hands and feet, condition yourself on all fours.

Transfer your weight back and forth so your body gets used to the pressure.

Shoulder rotations in which you bring your bent arm in toward your body against the resistance of an exercise band can also strengthen your pectorals.

Strength-Training Exercises

Once you’ve increased your flexibility and strength, incorporate slightly more strenuous strength-training exercises.

Start with minimal weight to avoid injuries, and only do as many repetitions and sets as you comfortably can.

Do chest exercises, such as bench presses in which you lie on a bench and push a barbell or dumbbells up above your chest.

Pec decks in which you sit on an apparatus and bring the arm pads together in front of your chest before separating them, is another effective exercise.

If you don’t have machines or free weights available, do pushups on your knees before doing them with extended legs.


Before starting chest exercises, consult a doctor to ensure your workout is appropriate for your condition.

Always warm up for at least five minutes before doing stretching or strengthening exercises. Because working your muscles while they’re cold can result in injuries.

You should never feel any pain when exercising.

Even after you’ve fully recovered, maintain a regular stretching and strengthening routine to prevent future chest muscle strain.

For optimal results and injury prevention, consider hiring a personal trainer to teach you proper exercise form.