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Thread: Left arm stopped producing force

  1. #1
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    Feb 2013
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    Default Left arm stopped producing force

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    No, I do not have a diagnosis and have not seen a doctor yet. I have been doing some form of SS/PP for a decade. The other day I was doing bench singles of 285 and my left arm randomly wasnít working right. Zero pain at all. But it wasnít producing force. It was weird, something Iíve never experienced. So I chalked it up to a bad day and tried volume day later In the week at 245 which shouldíve been a walk in the park. Failed after 2 completely uneven reps. Left arm still wasnít pushing right. So I took a week off and today tried volume press (155). Again should have been easily manageable, but my left arm wasnít producing force like it should and I failed after 3 uneven reps. I have no idea whatís going on, have zero pain at all, no recent injuries other than a stiff neck about a month ago. Ever seen this or have any idea?

  2. #2
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    See a neurologist. You have a cervical impingement of some type, and it may not hurt. But the affected parts of the arm will atrophy if this is not addressed.

  3. #3
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    Well, thatís depressing. It will atrophy, even if I am able to lift some percentage of the weight I used to? Does this usually end in surgery? Can I try to keep training the best I can symmetrically?

  4. #4
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    I second Ripís recommendation. Demand a MRI. I fucked around and waited too long and now have a severely atrophied left tricep, pec, lat, bicep and shoulder. All are extremely weak. The only lift not affected is squats.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    See a neurologist. You have a cervical impingement of some type,
    chickma2: Or some other potentially serious thing. Definitely get it checked out.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chickma2 View Post
    Well, thatís depressing. It will atrophy, even if I am able to lift some percentage of the weight I used to? Does this usually end in surgery? Can I try to keep training the best I can symmetrically?
    Think of the basic principles: The system will adapt to the stress to which it's subjected. If that stress is lower weight (whatever the reason), then the muscle will adapt by getting weaker over time - which is atrophy.

    Doing something is better than doing nothing, but doing everything is even better. Getting this diagnosed and treated is what could get you back to everything.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chickma2 View Post
    Well, thatís depressing. It will atrophy, even if I am able to lift some percentage of the weight I used to? Does this usually end in surgery? Can I try to keep training the best I can symmetrically?
    It will atrophy due to no signal making it through the nerve. It will not be used and the body will assume you donít need it any longer. From everything I read the chances of it ever coming back are extremely slim. Training will not maintain it bc the muscle that is not getting the signal isnít actually being trained.

  8. #8
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    Get it looked at yesterday. I've had two nerve issues. The first one was tremendously painful but I didn't have strength or muscle loss and it went away after several long weeks and I was fine.

    The second time I wasn't so lucky. My lat and shoulder were down on strength and did experience some atrophy as well. My tricep, on the other hand, shut completely off and it happened literally almost over night. I couldn't bench a 10 pound dumbbell without using my shoulder to throw it up. The lat and delt have mostly recovered since having neck surgery but the tricep is still no bueno. This was three and a half years ago

    Get an MRI immediately. Do not play with this.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2023
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    I second this, this is serious shit. The worst part is that nerve tissue heals excruciatingly slowly.

    Before I started training with an SSC I fucked up my elbow with incorrect squat technique. At first I thought it was "just" a tendonitis (as per the elbow pain in the squat article), and I pushed through the pain until it became unbearable. Very bad idea, it seems like I lightly damaged my ulnar nerve. Not bad enough to need surgery or anything. I went to two hospitals and the neurologists said "there's nothing wrong" with the nerve, so I think I dodged a bullet there, as nothing atrophied.

    Now, two years later, I can finally sleep with bent arms again without the fingers going numb.

    Seriously, get it checked out.
    Last edited by Peter Bex; 01-31-2024 at 01:26 AM.

  10. #10
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    Curious how this worked out for the OP as I experienced something very similar.

    About 3 years ago (age 50) I couldn’t even begin to move the bar for that day’s pressing (162.5 lbs.), beginning with the warm-ups, and lost the ability to generate any significant force with my left arm. There really wasn’t any new pain involved per se, and after a little experimentation (I could manage a few wobbly dips and benching at about a 20% reduction in weight, but couldn’t even get a 30 lb. dumbbell over my head using my left arm), surmised the issue was in the shoulder where I had had a history of impingement issues/pain.

    Orthopedist originally suspected a partial labral tear or nerve impingement but ultimately said the MRI showed no real cause for the weakness, admitted to being stumped, and recommended some boiler-plate PT (rotator cuff and scapular retraction) exercises along with a gradual re-introduction of pressing. After about 3 weeks of the PT exercises, including increasing volumes of push-ups, I re-introduced the bench (at about the same 20% discount) when the first set of push-up reps was up around 30. The following week I re-introduced the press (sets of 5 x 85 lbs.) and never looked back. That is, until I had the shoulder cleaned up and rotator cuff repaired surgically a couple years later.

    I still have no idea what could have caused that kind of sudden onset weakness other than an impinged nerve somewhere, and whether the PT exercises or even push-ups really helped, but the whole ordeal was over in about 8 weeks and all that was left to do was work my way back up.

    I hope you’re making similar progress and having some success…

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