So I Broke My Arm Squatting

Yes, you read that correctly. I was doing my 2nd set of 5 with just a measly 240 lbs and while the second rep was on its way up I heard a snapping sound and the next thing I knew I was on the ground in considerable pain. Turns out that I broke my upper left arm. I guess the technical term for it is a "spiral fracture of the humerus", or something like that.

The only reason I can think this would happen would be some problem with my grip, and even then a complete break seems unlikely. I just hope that this experience doesn't turn me off of squatting in the long run.

I'm having surgery this week. Wish me luck.
 

spacediver

Hall of Fame
ouch!! I looked up spiral fracture, and it seems that that happens when there is a torsional force on the bone. I think that it's similar to the force you experience on your humerus when someone is arm wrestling you.

Sounds like the bar tipped over to the left side, probably because it wasn't centered on your shoulders and/or you tilted your body to the left side on your way up.
 

JRstriker12

Hall of Fame
Wow! How did you do that? Were you doing front squats or back squats?

Sounds strange in that from what I learned, the arms are just used for stability but really don't hold much or any weight in the squat.

Do you think you could have factured your arm doing something else and maybe the lift was just the final tweak needed?

If you still want to squat, but want to protect the arm, you could try the manta ray for back squats and the sting ray for front squats. I've tried these before and you could steady the bar with a light grip.

http://www.adfit.com/mantaray/index.asp
http://www.adfit.com/stingray/index.asp
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
You were doing front squats, right? No meaningful arm involvement normally in back squats. But, it's a strange injury....Sorry to hear about it, mate. My son had that break at Disney doing the world arm wrestling championships. It kept him out of Marine Corps Flight School.

-Robert
 
C

chico9166

Guest
Yes, you read that correctly. I was doing my 2nd set of 5 with just a measly 240 lbs and while the second rep was on its way up I heard a snapping sound and the next thing I knew I was on the ground in considerable pain. Turns out that I broke my upper left arm. I guess the technical term for it is a "spiral fracture of the humerus", or something like that.

The only reason I can think this would happen would be some problem with my grip, and even then a complete break seems unlikely. I just hope that this experience doesn't turn me off of squatting in the long run.

I'm having surgery this week. Wish me luck.
Wow, bad luck man. Hang in there.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Yeah, bummer man!
Hope you heal strong and healthy, hope it wasn't your hitting arm.
Spirals take very little load to snap bones, as the bone is already loaded.
Drink milk, rest till swelling goes away, then start PT to enhance blood flow to the injured area. Some advocate weird stuff like dialysis. I don't know.
Heal up, and spend more time here on the forums!
 

autumn_leaf

Hall of Fame
when i read squat i just imagine back squat. and thought...how the hell is that even possible. never did front squats, but some pics have the guys wrap their arms around the weight. still don't see how it's possible.
 

Fedace

Banned
Yes, you read that correctly. I was doing my 2nd set of 5 with just a measly 240 lbs and while the second rep was on its way up I heard a snapping sound and the next thing I knew I was on the ground in considerable pain. Turns out that I broke my upper left arm. I guess the technical term for it is a "spiral fracture of the humerus", or something like that.

The only reason I can think this would happen would be some problem with my grip, and even then a complete break seems unlikely. I just hope that this experience doesn't turn me off of squatting in the long run.

I'm having surgery this week. Wish me luck.
Are you a world class Weight lifter ? why are you lifting such heavy weights ? Me personally, lift only for tennis purposes, to get little extra zip on my shot and to avoid injury. Maximum weight i lift is 60-80 lbs, no more. and i get plenty nice tone in my muscles with that.
 

tennis005

Hall of Fame
Wow, how did that happen. From the title, I was thinking, well maybe the weight fell on his arm. That is truly odd. Uhh...gives me chills just thinking about it. Anyway, hope you have a speedy and full recovery.
 

ALten1

Rookie
Are you a world class Weight lifter ? why are you lifting such heavy weights ? Me personally, lift only for tennis purposes, to get little extra zip on my shot and to avoid injury. Maximum weight i lift is 60-80 lbs, no more. and i get plenty nice tone in my muscles with that.
240 isn't close to a world class weight...

sounds like bad luck (freak accident) op, don't let that be the reason you give up with the squats. Of course thats easy for me to say.
 

Vyse

Semi-Pro
Are you a world class Weight lifter ? why are you lifting such heavy weights ? Me personally, lift only for tennis purposes, to get little extra zip on my shot and to avoid injury. Maximum weight i lift is 60-80 lbs, no more. and i get plenty nice tone in my muscles with that.
I lift big because I want to get bigger. Verdasco can leg press 600 and how much could Agassi bench? A pretty high amount, like 300. Lifting big will help you with tennis as long as you are doing it smart. I want to look like Verdasco and you gotta lift big to get big (generally).
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Back around 1964, I was 5'3" and maybe 115. I could leg press 450 on the high school's machine, 3rd best on the varsity football team.
Growing full size 5 years later, could barely do that before getting old.
 

Vyse

Semi-Pro
Back around 1964, I was 5'3" and maybe 115. I could leg press 450 on the high school's machine, 3rd best on the varsity football team.
Growing full size 5 years later, could barely do that before getting old.
That is crazy. That is an amazing bodyweight to strength ratio.
 

snoopy

Professional
It's pretty easy to leg press a lot of weight.


I have no idea how the OP broke his arm if he was doing back squats.

Either his form was really whack or he had some strange genetic weakness in his arm.
 

Sentinel

Bionic Poster
Hey good friend of mine. I winced just reading the title on the New Posts.

Wish you a speedy recovery, Matt. Keep us posted as and when you can.
 
It's pretty easy to leg press a lot of weight.


I have no idea how the OP broke his arm if he was doing back squats.

Either his form was really whack or he had some strange genetic weakness in his arm.
I was doing back squats. I use the low bar position that Mark Rippetoe recommends. Perhaps the bar is too low on my back? Either way, I think it's safe to say that this was a freak thing. It could be tough mentally the first few times back under the bar though. Remembering the cracking sound of my arm when I'm coming out of the hole might mess with my head.
 
Hey good friend of mine. I winced just reading the title on the New Posts.

Wish you a speedy recovery, Matt. Keep us posted as and when you can.
Well, the good news is I don't think I need surgery after all, so that's a considerable amount of money saved, I guess. The bad news is that my arm hurts like crazy when I have to get up and down. I got light headed going to the doctor today and passed out standing up for a half minute or so. Woke up sweating buckets. Taking Percocet every four hours, but it still hurts. Oh well, that's life.
 

snoopy

Professional
I can't get the bar in the position that Rippetoe teaches. It hurts my wrists and back like crazy.

Here's an interesting thread on low back vs high back positioning on the back squat.

http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=33028

Pay attention to the posts by Greg Everret and Glen Pendlay.

On an interesting side note, Everett has been booted from Crossfit. I'm not sure of the reasons but they shouldn't make you think less of his Olympic lifting knowledge.

I forgot to add that most of the interesting information is in the last few pages of the thread.
 
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snoopy

Professional
I just remembered what I wanted to say when I made my previous post.

In the thread I linked to some of the points made include:

low bar position on the back squat is very uncomfortable to a lot of people

the low bar position bc it is more unnatural, requires more coaching then the high bar position

This doesn't explain why you hurt yourself, but it popped into my head after reading your post.

I'm not implying that the low bar position is unsafe.
 
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LeeD

Bionic Poster
DJ.... yeah, the pain is kinda fun. I remember taking the bus to the doc 3 weeks after 13 break tib/fib, in hip cast, in arm cast, and neck collar. LONG bus ride from my house to doc, needing 3 blocks walk....by myself. Good fun, sweat, grey moments, no help.
And I've had 4 collarbone breaks, more than 5 separates and dislocates on the shoulders. Countless (way more than 10) broken ribs. More than 5 broken fingers. Waking up can be a trying experience .... :):)
Currently, I still downhaul my windsurfing sails by hand, needing as much as 520 lbs. pressure to set the sails correctly.
Of more than 100 windsurfers I know....all men we're using as an example... only less than 5 downhaul without a leverage or cranking tool. No chance any women would be dumb enough to try pulling that much pressure plus the friction from the lines and pulleys.
I"m pretty sure I can still leg press into the highest 300's.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I never played around with weights, because I have little arm strength to hold the darn thing up. I'd break my arms like DJ if I ever tried.
Leg press machine allows me to brace with my back, then push with legs.
I did mention that when I was 5'3" tall, I could stand under a basketball rim, jump up, and just grab the rim with both hands. I led the varsity basketball team in rebounding my soph and junior years, despite being shorter than the point guard by 8".
 
Well, despite the fact that my arm broke I wouldn't call my arms a weak point on my body. The last time I benched I did 195 for 3 sets of five, only giving out on the last rep of the final set. Not strong by any means, especially for 207 lbs, but not weak when compared to my squat (235) and deadlift (285).

The leg press is kind of pointless as an indicator of strength, IMO. I messed with it for a few months back when I was kind of making things up as I went along and I was able to do 8 plates per side (720 lbs) for 4-5 reps. Never mind the fact that I couldn't even perform a real squat at an acceptable depth. When you squat you work your hips and back as well as your legs. The leg press takes those things out of the equation.
 

Sentinel

Bionic Poster
i forgot to ask .. is this your playing arm ???

Good no surgery, but get well soon anyway. what do the docs say -- how much time to heal.
 

kensan

Rookie
Also when everyone talks about their leg press abilities it's helpful to know if you are doing a full knees to the chest movement, or just a quick bend of the knee like I see some people at the gym do.

Same with the squat, if the thigh is going below parallel (power-lifting style) or just a 60 degree bend or so.
 
i forgot to ask .. is this your playing arm ???

Good no surgery, but get well soon anyway. what do the docs say -- how much time to heal.
No, it's my left arm. Very lucky for me, considering that my right side is extremely dominant in terms of dexterity. I'll be out for about two months, perhaps more if my diabetes affects my recovering ability. Not sure about that.
Also when everyone talks about their leg press abilities it's helpful to know if you are doing a full knees to the chest movement, or just a quick bend of the knee like I see some people at the gym do.

Same with the squat, if the thigh is going below parallel (power-lifting style) or just a 60 degree bend or so.
For me the leg press is irrelevant in terms of real strength. Yes, I used to load up 8 plates a side and leave them on the machine, but those days are long gone. My ex-powerlifting buddy said that I squat 3-4 inches below parallel. I think when I come back I'll pay special attention to how the bar is positioned on my back.
 
I know it is still too soon wo start, but have you been giving some thought to what kind of regimen you may be doing to keep up at least some of your strength in your legs, core and other arm as the fracture heals? Again, good luck on a speedy recovery.
 
I know it is still too soon wo start, but have you been giving some thought to what kind of regimen you may be doing to keep up at least some of your strength in your legs, core and other arm as the fracture heals? Again, good luck on a speedy recovery.
Honestly I haven't thought about it yet and the doctors didn't even mention it. Guess they don't care as long as they aren't getting sued. :)

I guess I'll do some research (advice welcome, of course) and do some maintanence work when I can move around a little more. My blood sugar is not agreeing with the lack of exercise, that's for sure.
 

10sfreak

Semi-Pro
Are you a world class Weight lifter ? why are you lifting such heavy weights ? Me personally, lift only for tennis purposes, to get little extra zip on my shot and to avoid injury. Maximum weight i lift is 60-80 lbs, no more. and i get plenty nice tone in my muscles with that.
Huh? Dude, 240 lbs is still "warm-up" weight... not even close to "world class lifting"...
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
LOL! I can't do the low bar position. I have tons of respect for Rippetoe, but no thanks. I also use the Smith Machine always for my squats, and haven't gone over 300 in 5 years, maybe longer. I'm assuming you dropped the bar while free squatting? Bummer. Good luck!

-Robert
 

chess9

Hall of Fame
Huh? Dude, 240 lbs is still "warm-up" weight... not even close to "world class lifting"...
Yes, of course. The weight really isn't all that much for a younger guy. Just a freak accident.

When you start squatting over 700 lbs, then you are getting into serious squatting. ;)

-Robert
 
LOL! I can't do the low bar position. I have tons of respect for Rippetoe, but no thanks. I also use the Smith Machine always for my squats, and haven't gone over 300 in 5 years, maybe longer. I'm assuming you dropped the bar while free squatting? Bummer. Good luck!

-Robert
I guess the bar slipped a little back and that was enough to break it, amazingly. The rep itself was going up easily and then I heard a cracking sound and it was all downhill from there. Lucklily I always use the safety bars so I didn't go all kamikaze to the floor with the bar still on my back. Kind of curious why you can't do the low bar position. Old man flexibility FTL, I suppose? :)

When I first started "squatting" (meaning horrible form, narrow stance, toes not pointing out enough, not getting deep enough, no tightness in the back, pretty much just pushing with my quads and nothing else) I used the high bar position and it never felt comfortable to me. It kind of hurt my traps and if my form's off and the bar rolls forward that's got broken neck written all over it. I'll take a broken arm over that any day. I tried a squat in the SM once a that was one rep too many for me. To describe the feeling as "unnatural" would be an understatement.

Like I said before, I think my low bar position was a little too low. I'm training for strength, so I use mostly what would be considered "powerlifting form".
Yes, of course. The weight really isn't all that much for a younger guy. Just a freak accident.

When you start squatting over 700 lbs, then you are getting into serious squatting. ;)

-Robert
My squats are so weak it's not even funny. My bench is only 40-45 lbs behind them, which is whack, to say the least. At just a little over 200 lbs, I'd be happy to get somewhere in the 400-500 range. Obviously as a tennis player, I can't afford to bulk up to 300+ like the big league lifters.
 
At just a little over 200 lbs, I'd be happy to get somewhere in the 400-500 range.
Wow, that's strong.

I had a quick play with my weight set downstairs, and I could only back squat 140kg (I failed at 145kg), and I weigh 80kg. (I squatted to an 11 inch high cardboard box to make sure I hit below parallel depth.)

That's 310lbs at 175 bodyweight, right? A double+ bodyweight squat (400-500lbs at 200) would sure be impressive.

Hope your arm gets better soon!
 
Wow, that's strong.

I had a quick play with my weight set downstairs, and I could only back squat 140kg (I failed at 145kg), and I weigh 80kg. (I squatted to an 11 inch high cardboard box to make sure I hit below parallel depth.)

That's 310lbs at 175 bodyweight, right? A double+ bodyweight squat (400-500lbs at 200) would sure be impressive.

Hope your arm gets better soon!
Well, it's obviously a long term goal, but when it's all said and done, I'd like to bench 1.5xBW, squat 2xBW, deadlift 2.5xBW, and OH press BW.

That's a nice squat you've got there.
 
This just occurred to me because there was a recent thread on Vitamin D deficiency, and how common it is being found now that there is a simple blood test to check for it.

Vitamin D is essential for normal bone strength, and apparently there is an association between diabetes and Vitamin D deficiency, which may explain the association between diabetes and fractures.

"Role of vitamin d in insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity for glucose homeostasis. Vitamin D functions are not limited to skeletal health benefits and may extend to preservation of insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity...":
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20011094

"Vitamin D in diabetes mellitus-a new field of knowledge poised for D-velopment. This commentary reviews the current state of knowledge regarding the role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus. In type 1 diabetes mellitus or in adult onset latent autoimmune diabetes (LADA), vitamin D exhibits immunomodulatory actions, influencing the activity of lymphocytes and interleukins. In type 2 diabetes mellitus vitamin D appears to act through different mechanisms, affecting insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity through its effects on the beta cells, mediators of inflammation and parathyroid hormone. Much work remains to be done in this new field of knowledge before the role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus is completely understood." :
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19565622

"Diabetes and fractures: an overshadowed association. Observational and population studies have reported a higher risk of fractures in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially at the hip. Type 2 diabetic patients have a higher bone mineral density compared with the general population, and yet, remain unprotected from fractures. Type 1 diabetic patients have a greater risk of fractures and a lower bone mineral density compared with the general population. Their lower bone mineral density, however, does not fully account for the raised fracture risk. Therefore, impaired bone quality rather than lower bone density appears to mediate the increased fracture risk in patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes. Recently, studies have shown an association between advanced glycation end products with increased fracture risk in diabetic patients. These studies support the hypothesis of poor glycemic control and chronic hyperglycemia having a direct detrimental effect on bone quality. In addition, increased fracture risk has been reported in patients with peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, recurrent hypoglycemic events, vitamin D deficiency, and those receiving thiazolidinedione therapy.":
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19779334

While your fracture did involve lifting some pretty heavy weight, it still seems like an unusual accident. I wonder if is worth asking you doctor to check a Vitamin D level to see if that could be low in you. This may be especially important as you are healing the fracture, and low levels of Vitamin D are associated with slow healing of bone fractures (as is poor blood sugar control). Of course another approach would be to take Vitamin D tablets without checking a blood level.

And that line above about thiazolidinedione therapy being linked to an increased fracture risk causes me to ask if you are on either Rosiglitazone (Avandia) or Pioglitazone (Actos)?
 
I can barely read that stuff you posted, so many scientific terms. Yes, I'm a moron, and yes, I dropped biology this semester, what of it? :)

I guess vit. D tablets could be helpful. As for my poor blood sugar control, it's hard to get enough exercise when it hurts to move, haha. But it feels a little better now, so I can start taking daily walks. Typically I can't control my blood sugar with just insulin, it takes some quality exercise, like tennis, sprints, and heavy lifting. But obviously that's not possible here, so I'll just walk and hope it's good for something.
 
Well, it's obviously a long term goal, but when it's all said and done, I'd like to bench 1.5xBW, squat 2xBW, deadlift 2.5xBW, and OH press BW.
I misread previous posts (downside of reading through quickly... my bad) and thought that you were doing around 400lbs, and fractured your arm warming up with 240.

Get well soon, and hope you get back to your 1x 1.5x 2x 2.5x BW goals!
 
I can barely read that stuff you posted, so many scientific terms. Yes, I'm a moron, and yes, I dropped biology this semester, what of it? :)

I guess vit. D tablets could be helpful. As for my poor blood sugar control, it's hard to get enough exercise when it hurts to move, haha. But it feels a little better now, so I can start taking daily walks. Typically I can't control my blood sugar with just insulin, it takes some quality exercise, like tennis, sprints, and heavy lifting. But obviously that's not possible here, so I'll just walk and hope it's good for something.
I don't blame you for dropping biology. Every high school should primarily teach human biology for non-biology majors. So much about health, nutrition and exercise is both interesting and valuable thoughout our lives. But it gets lost, or never mentioned in Bio 101 courses that stress plants, microorganisms, worms and biochemistry.
Basically the studies show that diabetes and Vitamin D deficiencies are so intertwined its not now possible to separate which causes which. But low vitamin D can lead to fractures. And both low Vitamin D levels and poorly controlled blood glucose levels can lead to delayed healing of fractures.
 
I don't blame you for dropping biology. Every high school should primarily teach human biology for non-biology majors. So much about health, nutrition and exercise is both interesting and valuable thoughout our lives. But it gets lost, or never mentioned in Bio 101 courses that stress plants, microorganisms, worms and biochemistry.
Basically the studies show that diabetes and Vitamin D deficiencies are so intertwined its not now possible to separate which causes which. But low vitamin D can lead to fractures. And both low Vitamin D levels and poorly controlled blood glucose levels can lead to delayed healing of fractures.
Took a quick look at sources of vit. D and saw that milk is the major source in the typical American diet. Over the last 3 months prior to my injury, I've been drinking at least a half gallon of milk per day, actually leaning towards a full gallon during the last month and a half. Doesn't seem like I should be low on this stuff, but what do I know.
 
I guess I'll start leg pressing (gay) 3 times/week to at least try to maintain some strength. Is there anything else I should be doing right now?
 

FastFreddy

Semi-Pro
Leg press is fine unless you do them like most people. Load the sled with 20 45 pound plates and do 3 inches of rom with your hands on your legs. When I was playing hockey I did step ups with 245 the most I could clean and put behind my neck.
 
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Back when I actually cared about leg pressing I went to around 90 degrees, don't care to go too much further and risk a hip/back injury. I can probably do 6-7 plates per side right now. I think I'll work in the 8-10 rep range with 3 heavy sets and increase the weight as much as I can realisticly.

As for the hands on knees thing, well, I can only use one hand at the most, so what's the point? :)
 

FastFreddy

Semi-Pro
My Point

Back when I actually cared about leg pressing I went to around 90 degrees, don't care to go too much further and risk a hip/back injury. I can probably do 6-7 plates per side right now. I think I'll work in the 8-10 rep range with 3 heavy sets and increase the weight as much as I can realisticly.

As for the hands on knees thing, well, I can only use one hand at the most, so what's the point? :)
Well using your hands during a leg press is cheating plain and simple. I would not worry about 90 degrees you should lower the weight until your butt starts to lift up from the seat. Six seconds per rep nice and slow and stay in control of the weight. Squats are not better than leg press in my book almost all people doing those movements cheat or have poor form, squats bending at the waist looks like good morning to me.

I think you should buy a manta ray when you squat you will maintain an upright position when doing back squats. Load distribtion principle transfers the weight across the trapezius muscles, reducing neck pain and discomfort.
 
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