Loss of strength in left arm after heavy lifting

by Andersson Liriano
(Bronx, Ny)

Hi, I started going seriously to the Gym and eating healthy on Jan 2 of this year, after 4 weeks of training i decided to go real heavy for 4 weeks, working 2 muscles per day, chest and triceps Monday, legs and shoulders wed, and back and biceps Friday, on my 2nd week on Wednesday I did my shoulder and legs, and next day I felt an uncomfortable pain on the lower part of my neck and left shoulder blade, but it did not feel like a muscle but something more deep inside.


I kept doing my exercise for one more week thinking it might go away. But my left side of my triceps started twitching also my shoulder blade, my left pec and left lat were twitching now and then depending on my arm position, after resting a couple of days they started twitching less, also I don't feel that much pain but I lost all my strength and I could barely grab a 10 pound weight and do triceps or any workout using that arm, I can't even support myself or stand up using my left arm.

Another detail, I have full flexibility of my arm, I'm able to move it up, Down or to the sides without any pain, everything is normal except for not having any strength on that side of my body and I'm an above average strong guy.

What is your opinion?

Thanks for taking the time to read this.



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Joshua Answers:

Hi Andersson.

You're welcome, no problem. Thanks for all the details.

Well, it certainly doesn't sound like Tendonitis.

See: What Is Tendonitis?

It does sound like you lifted heavy, and essentially tightened up a muscle so much that it pulled one of your cervical vertebrae out of whack. This can explain the twitching and then the loss of strength.

Also, twitching is a function of lack of Magnesium (for Tendonitis), and can also be a function of nerve impingement.

Having said that, give me more details, including update/progression.

1. Do you have loss of strength due to pain? Or just less strength?

2. Describe more -where- the pain/problem is. YOu said 'more deep inside'. (sounds like scalene muscle and where it refers pain to)

3. Was there any pain from the lifting, or was the lifting fine but next day the pain/problem kicked in?


You say more, then I'll say more.




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Comments for Loss of strength in left arm after heavy lifting

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Sep 15, 2015
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identical symptoms here. Any ideas?
by: Mike

Hi Josh,

I've got the exact same symptoms as this guy from the Bronx. You ever continue that conversation with him? To answer your followup questions:

1. Do you have loss of strength due to pain? Or just less strength? JUST LESS STRENGTH.

2. Describe more -where- the pain/problem is. YOu said 'more deep inside'. (sounds like scalene muscle and where it refers pain to) MINE IS 2 PLACES - BEHIND THE SHOULDER BLADE ESPECIALLY WHEN CROSSING MY ARM ACROSS MY BODY, AND DEEP WITHIN THE TRICEP ON THAT SIDE, ALMOST ALONG THE BONE. VERY BAD WHEN I LAY ON MY SIDE AT NIGHT.

3. Was there any pain from the lifting, or was the lifting fine but next day the pain/problem kicked in? KICKED IN THE NEXT DAY & HAS PERSISTED OVER A WEEK NOW.


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Joshua Comments:

Hi Mike.

I don't think he ever showed up again.

How are things now?

How's your head/neck flexibility.

Does anyting bad happen if you lift your arm towards the ceiling all the way? Any numbness occur? Able to point straight up into the air?

Any history of whiplash type injury (car crash, boxing, etc)?



Oct 05, 2015
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Loss of strength in left arm after heavy lifting
by: Mike

Thanks Josh. No trouble pointing up, no limits on range of motion.

No history of whiplash. Likely brought on by tricep pulldowns.

Once or twice in the past, I've given myself a stiff neck after doing these. But 4 weeks later now, still have occasional deep pain in bicep, such as when resting on elbow in car or at desk.

Occasional tingling in fingers too. But twitching stopped. Sleeping is better, though some nights still get painful lying on that arm.

Interestingly, the pain usually disappears during my workouts, but then settles in later at rest.

Above all, biggest concern is loss of strength, esp in chest. Previously could do 50 pushups, now about 5-10 & that elbow always wants to go out to the side. Getting old sucks!


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Joshua Comments:

Well....I would expect issue when raising your arm.

But there's not.

So sorry this is a pain in the butt, but I need more details.

1. Describe in detail the experience of doing a push up and the elbow goes out.

2. Say more about 'loss of strength'.

3. Problem with push ups only? Or bench press also?

4. What fingers is the tingling in?

5. Say more about stiff neck after tricep pull downs (that points to too tight muscles in the neck, which points too too tight scalenes which would impinge nerve to the arm, but would also predict numbness etc when reaching up overhead...but doesn't -have- to).

6. The pain when resting elbow in car...is the pain from the point of contact (elbow on window sill), or pain from being in the rested position?



Oct 17, 2015
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RE: Loss of strength in left arm after heavy lifting
by: Mike

1. Describe in detail the experience of doing a push up and the elbow goes out.

In a proper pushup, the elbows should be tucked towards the torso. My right elbow now pushes away from my torso, probably to compensate for the weakness.

2. Say more about 'loss of strength'.

Besides the pushups, when I do pullups now, my body is lopsided because the right side doesn't have as much strength anymore as the left. And I can only do 2 or 3 at a time, instead of 10-12. Same with tricep pulldowns - need to go lighter or compensate with bad form.

3. Problem with push ups only? Or bench press also?

Yes benches too. need to go lighter on the right, and after a few reps the right arm shakes and then gives out.

4. What fingers is the tingling in?

Thumb, index, middle, and top of palm under those fingers.

5. Say more about stiff neck after tricep pull downs (that points to too tight muscles in the neck, which points too too tight scalenes which would impinge nerve to the arm, but would also predict numbness etc when reaching up overhead...but doesn't -have- to).

Only happened a few times over the past few years, would hurt real bad when turning head to one side. but would usually clear up in 1-2 days. This time though, a more substantial, lingering injury.

6. The pain when resting elbow in car...is the pain from the point of contact (elbow on window sill), or pain from being in the rested position?

Not point of contact, but a deep pain along the length of bicep, tricep, and/or shoulder. Probably from the force of my weight shifting up my arm and pushing into my neck.

Obviously I'm hoping it's not a disc injury b/c I don't want to dish out $2000+ for an MRI with a high deduct ins plan. But you mentioned scalenes. Never heard of them, but after some research, my symptoms sound almost identical (except for the weakness). But would tight scalenes still persist after 6 weeks? Any treatments I can try?

For what it's worth, I recall another workout set I did that day - a very heavy load of single-arm rows using all plates on my cable machine (stupid). That could have been the one that messed things up...


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Joshua Comments:

Absolutely they can get/stay tight for 6 months, 6 years, 60 years.

Things get tight, they stay tight, and it goes downhill from there, as you've experienced.

Granted I'm biased, but I recommend the Reversing Whiplash Tendonitis program.

Whether you have had a 'whiplash' event is irrelevant, it's all about reversing the dynamic of chronic tightness of muscle and connective tissue, chronic inflammation, and chronic nutritional insufficiency.

Even if there is some dic bulge or equivalent, the bulge isn't the problem, the problem is the compression.

All that tightness compresses, and that causes problems. If you don't remove the tightness....

Your description of weakness does strike me as a nerve compression thing, but it doesn't have to be....sounds like things are super tight, and that can cause all sorts of things to not work right.

So I wouldn't worry about disc issue (though I'd set your mind to fixing the causes of the symptoms so you won't have to deal with a for sure disc issue down the road...[you think it sucks now....you definitely want to avoid a full blown acute bulging/ruptured disc dynamic]).

Point being, focus on opening up the too tight dynamic that is causing compression and problem. The Reversing Whiplash program shows you how, and I can answer a few questions along the way to make sure you're targeting things correctly.




Oct 20, 2015
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RE: Loss of strength in left arm after heavy lifting
by: Mike

Thanks Josh, what you're saying makes sense. I'll give it a few more weeks & hope for the best, but will check out your book too in the meantime. Again thanks a lot for your time, I really appreciate it!

Mar 04, 2016
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Same problem
by: Scott

Hi I know this is a long shot but I have exactly the same problem. I've been a keen gym goer for years now and I felt something go in my neck whilst over extending my arms whilst doing bicep curls. I too have literally no strength at all in my chest and it's really getting me down. Has this book helped you?

Thanks



Mar 05, 2016
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RE: Same problem
by: Mike

Scott-

I didn't get the book, just gave it time & that's certainly what it took... 3 months for the pain to go away, and 6 months to return to the strength I had before the injury. Very stubborn. If I had to diagnose myself, I'd say I tore a muscle really bad & the swelling pressed on a nerve for quite awhile.

Fortunately not a disc injury or I wouldn't be able to do the deadlifts & other workouts I'm back to doing. Best of luck to you. Just be patient & don't get discouraged.



Mar 06, 2016
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Weakness
by: Scott

Thanks Mike.

Did you stop training for the first 3 months or did you continue to weight train? That is my worst nightmare. Not being able to train will drive me mad.

I am still able to train at the moment, not as heavy but I'm still managing other than training my chest as it is just so weak.



Mar 10, 2016
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RE: Weakness
by: Mike

Scott-

That was my biggest nightmare too, so I kept working through it.

Ironically the pain mostly subsided while lifting, but set in later. The weakness was always present.

Still didn't push it too hard though, without knowing if it was a disc injury.

Be careful about that, & avoid things like deadlifts & rows which could aggravate the neck & back.

Only problem now is that compensating in my form to make up for the weakness has caused a nagging pain on the inside of my elbow, probably tendonitis.

Can't win!



Sep 19, 2016
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back pain and neck after lifting load
by: ibrahim

I have recently pick a heavy load in job and after that i started pain in my back and loss of power in my left hand ...colour turned black and swelling of muscles ... please help me .


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Joshua Comments:

Hello Ibrahim.

From what you just said, you need to go to the emergency room.

If you've lost power to the hand and it's turned black....you need to go the the emergency room at a hospital.




Nov 20, 2016
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No strength in right bicep nor pain
by: Alex

Hi,

I recently started going back to weight lifting at the gym after a couple of years of only doing cardio.

After my first training, I woke up the following day not able to extend both arms and my right bicep was swelling for 72 hours.

Since i was so sore I had to rest for 10 days before going back to the gym. However, when I came to do some bicep curls, I wasn't able to lift with my right arm (left arm ok). I have no loss in movement, there is no pain, and it feels like my right bicep is not as hard as the left one.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Thanks in advance!


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Joshua Comments:

My thoughts are that you were totally out of lifting shape, went to the gym and lifted too much, your body kicked into heavy defense mode (inflammation, pain, locking muscles tight, etc), and it's retaining that inflammation and tightness.

And, that results in decreased muscle function. For instance, if the brain thinks the muscle/tendon is at risk of injury, it won't let the muscle fire 100%.

I don't knows if you're isn't firing to some extent, or what, but all the factors of a tendonitis dynamic are now in play (if they weren't already): Tightness, inflammation, nutritional lack.

I suggest you get to work with the Reversing Bicep Tendonitis program.

And, it's not just your bicep, it's a variety of structures around your elbow. And the program covers all that.




Feb 13, 2017
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Same issue
by: Brian s

Over a period of a month my pushing power on my left side has gone down . Had pain in my elbow and tricep for awhile and some twitching . Each week my bench press going down . Tingling in my fingers and some numbness . It hasn't affected my pulling power , I can still curl the 60's with no problem . I feel some discomfort in my left scapula . It feels better when i close my arm and keep it close to my body .

Besides the tingling I wouldn't notice any functional problem if I didn't do bilateral exercises.

My cousin the surgeon received the same info and he thinks its a L7 impingement . I'm resting pressing movements for now and any back exercises. I wasn't having any pain when exercising .

I thought I might have some spinal stenosis because after a long period of standing my right quad gets numb and then starts to burn if I walk for long periods Then the left quad starts but After sitting for a few minutes I'm good again .


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Joshua Comments:

Your surgeon cousin thinks that an L7 impingement is causing twitching and tingling in your fingers and loss of bench press power on your left side??

Really?



May 06, 2017
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Pressing issues
by: Joe

Hello Josh,

I have been experiencing identical symptoms, with no pressing strength. From the tingling in my hand (pinky and ring) to twitching in my pec and tricep.

My issue is pressing out of my right arm.

History:

It began as a kink in my right shoulder/neck area at dinner training one day. The next few weeks were excruciating. Lack of sleep, constant neck/shoulder pain, etc. Identical symptoms from tingling in fingers(pinky and ring), twitching right peculiar, tricep...

I don't have pain in my neck really anymore but still a little area by my scapula that just feels 'off'. Its coming on 2 months now. I still have a big loss in power and strength in my right arm when it comes to bench/overhead work but I can curl/pull fine.

It also seems to bug me while sitting and driving. Not while standing and moving though. While sitting and leaning into a table with both arms lights me up, forcing me to stop.

Otherwise right now I'm starting to feel really good, besides my inability to press in my right arm. It's quite depression for me right now as I've got my eye on some competitions coming up I want to qualify for.

I've gone to specialists and seen some sports PT guys and I've done about all I can do besides the MRI. I can't pinpoint how I even did this but I'm linking it to either heavy deadlifts, handstand practice, or foam rolling my lats.

It's the only thing I could possibly think that could cause this.


Any ideas or areas I could focus on to help loosen up whatever is causing my 'pinch'??

I have all pulling power but cannot seem to get much lat engagement and still a severe lack of pushing power in my right arm. Any areas I should focus on loosening up the nerve pinch?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Joshua Comments:

Well, my first thought is that your scalene(s) are locked up tight. That causes all sorts of pain and problem as you've described.

Too tight scalene can compress the nerve down the arm, compress vertebrae which can cause subluxation and/or compression of other nerves, etc.


Secondarily (or primarily), the pec minor on that side could be locked up tight.

When locked up tight, muscles A. can't contract very much more (because they're already too contracted), and B. Are contracting 24/7 so fatigued etc.

When the pec minor isn't working very well, A. you're not going to have much bench and B. your shoulder is going to be pulled/rotated forward more than usual.

When a locked tight muscle isn't working very well, everything else has to/tries to compensate and adapt, but that doesn't always work out very well.

I'd find a really good massage therapist that knows what they're doing.

Or look up the anatomy and figure out how to pummel the pec minor, and/or finesse (do not be rough on) the scalenes.

Also, see: Magnesium For Tendonitis







May 24, 2017
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Weakness in my dominant arm
by: Brandon

I have recently started suffering from weakness in my right arm (dominate).

I have no pain. I can do pull ups and push ups with no problem, or compensation.

When I try to do dumbbell benches, front or lateral raises, upright rows, my right arm has no power. I can't physically lift a 25lb dumbbell to curl on my right side.

My left is no problem, but my right side is not capable of lifting past a 90° angle. I have full range of motion.

It just feels weak, but I have never had this problem before.

I have had rotator cuff problems before, but they were painful and have since healed up. What do you think?


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Joshua Comments:

Hi Brandon.

I think they never 'healed' up.

By which I mean, structures got tight, which caused your 'rotator cuff problems'.

Pain went away, but the progressive tightness etc didn't.

And when muscle/connective tissue is too tight, it can't work correctly, thus 'weakness' and pain, etc.

Plus of course some chronic inflammation process and nutritional insufficiency.

Reversible, but you need to correct the tightness/inflammation/nutritional lack that is preventing your ability to function properly.




May 26, 2017
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Weakness in my dominant arm
by: Brandon

Thanks Josh.
My rotator cuff problems were caused by a martial arts indecent where I rolled over hard on my shoulder. That was two years ago. It took about 8 months to heal. Since then, I have had no problems lifting.

I just don't understand why there is no pain. I consume a very nutritional diet. I don't eat any processed food and I eat only vegetables, fruit and some meat. I take vitamin supplements and get my protein from powder. I am very healthy.

I just don't understand how this came out of the blue and why. How do you relieve the tightness?


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Joshua Comments:

"My rotator cuff problems were caused by a martial arts indecent where I rolled over hard on my shoulder."

Let's arbitrarily say that that was 'the beginning'.

Maybe there was some actual rip/tear injury, maybe not. But from that initial pain even, that kicked in (an already existing) tendonitis dynamic, by which I mean, multiple factors working together to cause tightness pain and problem.

These factors primarily being 1. muscle and connective tissue tightness, 2. inflammation process, and 3. Nutritional insufficiency.


"I just don't understand how this came out of the blue and why."

It didn't. See above. 'Weakness' is synonymous with lack of function.

Weakness can also be a result of a torn tendon/ligament, so if that's in play that's something else entirely (although it 100% still has all the factors of the tendonitis dyanmic existing with it).

But your scenario is entirely unsurprising, and weakness (without any pain) is easily the result of one or more structures with limited ability to function properly.


"I am very healthy."

Maybe. Probalby. But a 'general' very healthy doesn't mean you're immune to having specific non-optimal aspects.

For instance, what's your Vit D level?

How much magnesium do you take? What kind of magnesium?

And just from what you've briefly described, it sounds to me like you're short on good fats and protein. (Not to dismiss the good things you do like 'no processed foods', but there's always room to improve what one is doing, and if one is in pain, then one needs 'more' of various amounts of whatever is lacking.






Jun 03, 2017
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Muscular Weakness on Left Side of Upper Body
by: Tom

Hi Josh,

I am currently dealing with a similar issue as some others on this thread have mentioned. About a month and a half ago, I felt a shooting pain in my upper trap into the left side of my neck while performing dumbbell incline press.

I have had this occur several times in the past and just chalked it up to pushing myself too hard (tried to squeeze out one more rep on my final heavy set). It was painful for a week or so but I just worked around it and continued to train with lighter weights. The pain has been lingering but is almost entirely gone and the area feels the best it has since the injury occurred. I figured everything was healing up nicely so no cause for concern.

Then, while training this past week, I noticed a huge strength deficit on the left side of my upper body. For example, when performing one-arm dumbbell rows, I was only able to get half as many reps using my left arm as I was able to get using my right. The same weight was used for both sides.

I completed 10 reps fairly easily with my right arm, but struggled to get just 5 with my left. I should mention that this was not due to pain, as there was no pain. It just felt like extreme fatigue, as though my back muscles physically could not continue. The same thing happened while performing lateral raises for shoulders. I was fine for the first few reps, however after about 5, I felt as though I could continue on my right side, but my left was done. Once again, no pain, numbness, or tingling. The shoulder just felt extremely fatigued.

It just seems like my left trap, deltoid, rhomboid, and lat area are all extremely fatigued during and even after my workouts. I can't help but think it's all related to the injury I sustained a month and a half ago. The strange thing to me is the lack of pain. It is purely extreme fatigue and weakness.

I am an avid gym goer and train 5 days a week before work. I have been doing this for years and am in relatively good shape. It concerns me that I may not be able to train for awhile. I mean I will do what it takes to heal, but the thought of not being able to train is getting to me.

I scheduled an appointment with a sports medicine doctor in my area but the earliest appointment I could get was next Thursday. I will have to wait but I was hoping that maybe I could access more information here.

Josh, it seems like you know your stuff so can I get your expert opinion on what you think this thing is?

Thanks.


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Joshua Comments:

Hi Tom.

I define injury as 'rip or tear'.

It doesn't sound like that happened to you.

It sounds like you've been lifting for years. Things have gotten tighter and tighter over time (that's just how things work).

You started getting those shooting pains, which are one or more of:

1. A quick super cramp (muscle)

2. A nerve getting compressed and resulting quick super cramp/spasm

3. Muscles pulling a vertebrae or whatever into a bad position where nerve or vertebral joint tissue gets compressed and sens out a pain/problem signal.


The brain doesn't like pain. When it feels shooting pain, it sends out commands to 'guard and protect' you, which long story short, makes things tight and generally makes things worse sooner and/or later.

So you move into a bad dynamic where muscles don't or can't work. (Can't because the brain will not send enough signal in the hopes of 'protecting them' from further perceived harm.)


Moral of the story is, I wouldn't worry about 'injury' per se, I'd worry about being out of whack such that your body can't work right. (Which technically is better than injury because while you have to fix something, you're not broken/torn which is a whole other level of problem.)


Ultimately, your lack of muscle function is (most likely) due to

A. certain muscles locked up too tight (and thus can't perform work like they're supposed to)

B. those locked tight muscles compressing nerve and/or pulling bones out of alignment (which is compressing nerve and/or sending a danger signal to the brain which is preventing those other muscles from being able to work correctly).



Let me know what your sports doc guy says.









Jun 12, 2017
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Me too
by: Mel

I work out every day. One day after painting a ceiling, I got a pain in my left shoulder area. The pain subsided, except when I sleep, when it is excruciating.

The bigger problem is I cannot lift weight...any weight really in my left arm, a half gallon is too much. There is no pain, only weakness. It is so frustrating.



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