What Can You Do When You Injure Your Rotator Cuff?
When I injured my shoulder like 14 years ago, I remember I felt it was the end of the world. At that point, training was as new to my as math to a 5 year old boy. That morning, I started doing a chest routine and when I hit the incline bench press, I made a mistake when racking the bar back. I mean, more than a mistake it was a combination of miscalculation plus horrible bench press equipment. I missed the spot and my shoulder passed its normal rotation axis. The weight pulled down my arm and I ended up with a rotator cuff injury. A serious one I would say.
At the time I didn’t know what a rotator cuff was. All I knew was that my shoulder was hurting me like crazy and that my mobility was limited due to the swelling. Right away I visited an orthopedic doctor. Told him what happened and he examined the area. His diagnosis was sharp and harsh: “You are not going to be able to do weights again”. I was terrified and sad by his affirmation. I left the doctor’s office with some prescriptions, a physical therapist name and a broken moral.
I don’t know but in my heart I had this feeling that the doctor was wrong. That I was going to be able to recover and workout the way I used to. Some weeks passed and the swelling started to go down. I noticed I was able to move my shoulder but a significant pain would arise every time I would pass the 90-degree separation angle from my body. I started to investigate about rotator cuff injuries and how to recover from them. Internet wasn’t what it is today and I had to rely more on other resources. One day, I came across another orthopedic doctor who was the uncle of a friend of mine. The conversation we had changed everything.
We sat down at this Mexican restaurant and started to talk about life and stuff. In the middle of the conversation, I told the doctor my rotator cuff story, the injury and the diagnosis from the first consultation with an orthopedic surgeon. He right away told me he respected his opinion but he thought it was wrong. When I asked why, he explained to me that after the injury, the rotator cuff – who is formed by muscles and tendons created to stabilize the shoulder – swells for a couple of weeks or a little bit more time. After the swelling goes away, some muscles but mainly tendons remain injured. They are still swollen and need more time to recover. However, if train properly, they will recover their strength and create internal scars around the affected tissue.
I couldn’t believe my ears and how silly I was to believe the first opinion I received. Right after that, I started a rehabilitation program with a therapist for three to four months until I recover some decent strength. We have discussed here some of the routines I did to recover myself and I recommend you using them too. When I felt the joint was stronger I went back to the gym. At the beginning I started with a normal routine to hit every muscle group with lightweights. Then, I progressively started to add more weights until I regained my strength and actually surpassed it. The whole process took me like nine months.
During that time, I read tons of information on how to train and eat better. The whole process made me wiser as an athlete but mainly as a human being.
Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201 Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119