What my bicep tear looked like when it started to show bruising
When I tore my bicep in November 2015

When I tore my bicep it was surreal. I suffered major injuries in the past (spinal damage, torn groin, hips, knees…), but this one was different. This one made an impact. It got my attention.

My whole life was based around winning. Beating my previous best. It was like that in school when I failed to get a 4.0 in undergrad, but then climbed up the flag pole to snag the 4.0 in grad school.

Or when, after being told for years that my legs were too small (the judges always told me I needed “Better quad thickness and better quad separation.”) and then, five years later hearing the same judges yell at me saying, “Stop working your legs! They got too big!”

“Yeeessss!” I thought, “I did it!” What I had done was turn my greatest weakness into my greatest asset.

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There was always success. Even when I failed I would work harder and hardewr until that failure finally became a success. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I didn’t apply myself and outwork everyone else.

But, when I suffered that bicep injury, I realized that I was missing an important lesson. The lesson was so obvious and so glaring that I wondered how I never saw it before.

Here’s that story:

My bicep had just been ripped off. I felt it tear in half like a carpet being torn from its mesh backing. I could almost hear the rapid fire of muscle fibers breaking away as my bicep was ripped from its tendon.

I was in disbelief. I couldn’t accept it.

“I just tore my bicep,” I thought, “No. Yes. No. Yes. No! Yes!”

The answer turned out to be Yes. It was a complete proximal tear of the long head of the bicep tendon at the musculotendon junction. Um, Tony, what’s that mean? Here’s what it means: My arm muscle tore from the tendon near the shoulder. This is unusual because typically the tendon tears off the bone, not tearing from the muscle itself. It’s probably the worst kind of tear because there very little tendon still connected to it to the muscle. This makes it almost impossible to reconnect it.

Image courtesy of Dr. Nabil Ebraheim

It’s like this: if you look at a piece of steak, there is that really hard, tough fiberous white material on the outside. You know, the hard stuff that you cut away with your knife because it’s impossible to chew. That’s like your tendon. It’s strong. If you were to sew that with a needle and thread to another piece of steak, then you’d get a really good connection that would hold. Buuuut, if you were to cut away that protective hard fiber and then sew the loose steak to another piece of loose steak, then it would likely just fall apart. It would be like sewing together lumps of chopped meat. It just isn’t going to work.

I went in to the surgery knowing that there might not be enough tendon to hold on to and we might have to close it up and leave it as unrepaired. But, I was fortunate that there was juuuust enough good tendon left on the muscle and we were able to reattach the bicep muscle. Only, it wasn’t where it used to be. Instead of attaching to the shoulder like it used to be, we had to reattach it to the upper arm bone (the humerus. And no, it isn’t funny). This was done by pulling the bicep muscle up as high as high as we could, sewing a “tack” to the end of it, drilling a hole through the upper arm bone (humerus) and looping it through the hole. OUCH!

I was told there was maybe a 30% chance that the repair would hold. I was in a sling for 6 weeks. Day and night. Even when I slept. I wasn’t even allowed to wiggle my fingers lest the bicep muscle engage and get reinjured. I had to learn to do everything one-handed. With my non-dominant hand! Man, o man. That was a challenge. But I actually liked the challenge. I learned to button my shirts, tie my shoes, put on my belt … all left-handed. I really had to use my brain differently and I swear it made me smarter!

After surgery and months of rehab, the bicep actually held.

I was humbled. And I was… grateful. Yep, that’s right. Grateful. Crazy, huh?

But that’s a story for another day… find out the secret to overcoming this injury and how it literally changed my life.

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About Tony and Out Run Your Fork:

I’ve been involved in healthy living almost my entire life. It’s not just about personal training or nutrition. It’s not just about getting ripped or 6 pack abs. It’s not just about weight loss programs or diets. It’s about YOU.

At Out Run Your Fork we make fitness fun! Our Personal Training and Nutritional Programming are designed with YOU in mind. We cater to each individual and custom tailor every program to fit your specific needs. Whether it’s overcoming an injury, lowering your cholesterol or looking for a kick-butt workout we’ve got you covered!

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So give us a call to set up your free, no-obligation Personal Training or Nutrition session today. We guarantee you’ll change the way you feel about working out!

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