Working Out Around An Injury – Labrum Tear, Rehab
LABRUM TEAR, THE REHAB
So, there I was, 240 lbs. with a brand new, fully torn labrum…but what exactly did this mean?
Well, it meant my shoulder just became extremely unstable. The labrum, a type of cartilage, helps “deepen” the shoulder socket and keep the ball part of the ball and socket in place. My labrum was, and still is to this very day, completely detached from the shoulder. So, for the next 4 weeks I was directed to put my arm in a sling and asked not to move my right shoulder “at all if possible”…and yes I am right- handed.
It wasn’t until about 3 months after the injury that I started physical training in hopes of postponing surgery as long as could. To be perfectly frank, within a few sessions of physical therapy I noticed a huge difference.
Normally without the sling my entire right arm felt as if it was literally about to fall off. Seriously, it is hard to describe but it felt as if my right arm was pulling my shoulder down. The constant force/stress on the shoulder would cause a very eerie and painful sensation which seemed to constantly radiate from my shoulder – a sensation that my arm was just going to drop off my shoulder. But, within a few sessions of physical therapy I started to notice that the day after my physical therapy sessions this strange sensation would disappear for approximately the next 18-24 hours.
It was awesome…though, as with most awesome things, there was a slight catch!
What was the catch?
I had to do physical training at a minimum every other day. If not, the pain would return and my arm would again feel as if it was going to fall right off my shoulder.
You see, as long as the shoulder muscles were tight, the shoulder itself was more stable and the pain would disappear. This happened because the shoulder and its surrounding/supporting muscles themselves where helping hold the shoulder in place…picking up the labrum’s slack.
After about 2 months of physical training (i.e., spot training the specific shoulder muscles that would help stabilize and keep the shoulder’s ball in its socket) I was ready to start working out again.
So, with a strengthened right shoulder and a full labrum tear, it was back to the gym to reach my goal…
…GOAL being, if you remember, to lose enough weight to not sweat while eating…easy enough right?
While, on my first day back to the gym I noticed one pretty cool thing right off the bat. There were certain exercise moves my shoulder was “telling” my brain not to do. My shoulder was literally sending me signals. So much so that there were certain exercises of which the mere thought of doing gave my shoulder the chills. Other times I’d be in the middle of a move when I’d notice my shoulder not really wanting to participate and/or hurting. If this happened I’d back off completely.
Nonetheless I noticesed that working out, better said,
WORKING OUT SMART AND AROUND THE INJURY
(i.e., doing what felt good to my injured shoulder),
ALLEVIATED my shoulder pain.
Yeah, there were days I pushed my shoulder a little too much or I did a move that caused me shoulder some pain the following day, but, as long as I was learning my new limits, I could learn to cope with the injury.
I was slowly getting back into my regular routine via MODIFICATIONS and SMART training.
It took about 2 years to get back to 100% and the entire 2 years I was either;
MODIFYING EXERCISESModifying exercise moves completely to account for my shoulder’s new range of motion (or lack thereof really)
USING LIGHTER WEIGHTUsing lighter weight to accomplish a full-range motion
LISTENING TO THE INJURYReally listening to the injury and how it was feeling during and after workouts. THIS IS CRUCIAL FOR ANYONE WITH AN INJURY!
Either way, modifying the move or dropping the weight, the important thing was that I was continued to train the injured shoulder and, more importantly, the shoulder’s supporting muscles. As the muscles around the injury continued to get stronger the injury became less and less of an issue until the day came when I completely forgot I had an injury at all.
Yeah, your specific injury, like mine, may never go away!
But KEEP TRAINING…SMARTLY!
If you do you’ll eventually learn to live and train with the injury until the day comes when, on many days, you’ll forget the injury is even there.
But remember, if you can actually train with your injury (check with a doctor to make sure that you can), you’ll most likely have to train that injury for the rest of your life.
To this very day if I go more than 2 days without working out my shoulder it starts to hurt and eventually feels as if it wants to drop straight to the ground again.
But as long as I train it I feel about 100% fine 99% of the time!
The one thing I do not do any more is wrestle with my little brother because the mere thought of that gives my shoulder the chills. But, other than that, I am back to working out 100% and back to playing softball.
In other words,
my life is back to normal all because I developed techniques to work around the injury
techniques anyone can learn from a physical trainer and your own body. But to learn you MUST stay active and work around, and with, the injury.
Remember to “Listen” to your body and MODIFY accordingly!