Should I be concerned about this spontaneous bruise under my bicep?
June 1, 2015 11:28 AM   Subscribe

After a hard strength training workout this morning, I noticed a weird bruise on my bicep. It doesn't hurt. Is this a thing that happens sometimes when you lift weights or is it something to be concerned about?

I've been working out with a personal trainer for about 3 months now. We meet 3x a week for 30 minutes and do a combination of strength training and cardio. Very P90X/TRX/Boot-Campish kind of stuff, like burpees, planks, squats with weights, etc. It's been great for my overall level of fitness. I'm not new to weight lifting or training, but I've been doing this probably more consistently and with better results than with any of my attempts in the past.

This morning after my workout I noticed a pretty ugly bruise on the inside of my left arm, on/under my bicep. It's not very big - about 3 dots in a cluster, all each a bit smaller than a dime, with that icky yellowness sort of around them all. They're pretty ugly and purple, though. It doesn't hurt at all, not even to the touch; I only noticed it as I was blow-drying my hair.

I definitely pushed myself really hard with an arm exercise this morning, doing a squat and then a shoulder press with a heavier barbell than I'd ever tried in the past. I'd assume it's related, particularly since I pushed VERY hard and my trainer made a big deal about how heavy the wight was. I've had all sorts of weird physical results from pushing myself in workouts before, but this is a new one. My internet sleuthing hasn't made me feel like this is something that is uber common, although I can find some message boards where people ask about this very thing, there doesn't seem to be a clear line to "oh yes, this is totally a normal weightlifting thing, like soreness or stiffness." Should I call my doctor? Mention it to my doctor next time I am in for a visit? Since it isn't painful and it hasn't happened before, I'm inclined to not worry -- but figured it was worth asking the green - has this ever happened to you?

In case it's pertinent: Mid/late 30s female, non-smoker, balanced diet, I take multi-vitamins and prilosec daily, that's about it -- although I pop Advil about 2x a week for headaches and/or a sore back.
posted by pazazygeek to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
I'm not a weightlifter, but I am an endurance athlete. Yes, workout bruises happen occasionally and in my experience they don't portend any serious issues. If it remains for more than a couple of days, or if it starts to feel unusually hard or tender, then yes I'd seek a professional's opinion.
posted by psoas at 11:31 AM on June 1, 2015

It's not very big - about 3 dots in a cluster, all each a bit smaller than a dime, with that icky yellowness sort of around them all.

If the bruises are already fully developed and turning yellow, I would assume that whatever caused the bruising actually happened a while ago, possibly even several days earlier, and you just didn't notice at the time.

Do you have any other medical symptoms, e.g. fatigue? If so, I'd take this to a doctor right away. If not, I'd keep an eye on it and maybe mention to the doctor the next time you see them; they may want to run some bloodwork.

Anecdotally, I used to get a lot of unexplained bruises. They stopped right around when I started taking a Vit K supplement (although note that I did that in consultation with my doctor, and for unrelated reasons).
posted by pie ninja at 11:43 AM on June 1, 2015

I've had bruising from severe quadriceps strains, which I assume indicates torn muscle fibers with resultant internal bleeding. Mine weren't from weight lifting, though, but from sprinting without sufficient warmup, and came with significant pain. Interestingly, the bruising wasn't near the strain, but at the back of my hamstrings where the blood had pooled while I sat or slept.
Have you had any painful upper arm strains recently that might have pooled blood under your bicep?
posted by rocket88 at 11:57 AM on June 1, 2015

I get bruises all the time from weightlifting. It's kind of a fact of life when you're throwing around heavy weights and is not concerning to me. However, I'm with pie ninja -- your bruise sounds a little older. Most likely it happened without your noticing, which happens to me once in a while as well and I've never considered it to be an issue.

As with most medical things now that I'm not the springiest chicken anymore, if it happens again or it doesn't go away in a timely fashion, I would mention it to your doctor. If not, I don't think you have cause to worry.
posted by telegraph at 12:53 PM on June 1, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all for the insight! Bruise did not get worse, I am going to mention it to my doctor the next time I visit, but beyond that, I have called off ze dogs of worry. Thank you again!
posted by pazazygeek at 10:41 AM on June 2, 2015

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