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Just Had Shoulder Surgery. Bad to Train One Side?

Hey guys,

I just had surgery due to a torn labrum in my right shoulder (for the second time). Theres nothing worse than not being able to workout for 5-6 months. I was thinking I could just workout my left side to stay in somewhat shape. one arm DB bench, biceps + triceps, squats on the machine, and basically anything I can do that wont involve my injured shoulder. Do you guys think it’s a bad thing to just workout my left side while my right side will basically be doing nothing for the next 5-6 months?

That’s not a bad idea at all. As long as it doesn’t affect your injured shoulder. For example, just getting into the position to perform a one-arm DB bench could be precarious for the other shoulder. Just be careful.

Probally would do more harm then good, it will just create a further imbalance thats allready being cause by your inability to use your bad shoulder. I would stick to training legs if you can, to at least getting some blood circulating the body.

I feel your pain, I’ve been out of the gym for 4 months now, currently overseas and there is nothing they can do for me until I get back to the states. Both shoulders are messed up so I still have a very long road ahead of me. Good luck man.

Been there done that with the labrum. I tended to use the leg machines. Actually did pretty decent maintaining some strength. Good luck.

[quote]atlninja82 wrote:
Hey guys,

I just had surgery due to a torn labrum in my right shoulder (for the second time). Theres nothing worse than not being able to workout for 5-6 months. I was thinking I could just workout my left side to stay in somewhat shape. one arm DB bench, biceps + triceps, squats on the machine, and basically anything I can do that wont involve my injured shoulder. Do you guys think it’s a bad thing to just workout my left side while my right side will basically be doing nothing for the next 5-6 months? [/quote]

I am 12 days out from a massive shoulder rebuild and will also be sidelined for months. I am doing nothing with the good arm for a couple of reasons.

  1. Everything on the unop side is now a rotator cuff exercise, like it or not, and just living is going to put it under a ton of strain. Adding a workout would probably up my risk of injury. What do I do if I run out of arms?

  2. Experience with long-term issues (knee and hip) shows that a strength imbalance is bad. The rule of thumb is that more than a 15% diff. 'twixt sides predisposes the weaker side to get injured by the strong one. I can vouch for that. If you aren’t careful you might be messing with the aftermath of “staying strong” for years. No fake. Took me nearly a decade to hammer out the difference between hips.

As for doing nothing, fuck that. I have a bunch of bands and Brett Contreras’s book on glute training. I plan on hammering the holy crap out of my posterior chain over the next 6 months. Various split squats (bulgarian, e.g.) should let me work most of the way up to pistols safely. I don’t quite have the knee flexion for a complete pistol, so those will have to do. At some point I will be able to use a safety squat once I am allowed to actually contract shoulder muscles. Oh and valslides too… Once I can use 2 arms again, I’ll be able yo get them back up to speed in a reasonably short period of time. Having 6 months of catching up for the weak arm means it would be years before thy balance right.

Oh an I’ve been doing this for years and busted damn near everything, so I’m also articulating what I’ve found to be the best approach to dealing with a serious long-term health issue.

Best of Luck,

–jj

“Do it right or do it twice” – my granddad

Had rotator cuff and labrum tear surgery some years back. I basically did low intensity cardio like walking on an incline and lower body on machines that use the pin system. Kept that fairly light too since I couldn’t brace myself when weight got heavier.

My opinion is to keep moving and keep blood flowing through your body rather than sitting around rotting away.
Not sure if this is true or not but I’ve read that only training one side of the body has some carry over to the other side that’s not trained. I even think Thibs mentioned that phenomenon.

I had that surgery and was not out that long. However, it did put me back to square 1 pressing. I just had a siezUre the other day and I may have torn my rotator cuff. If it is that I am taking a sabbatical from weights.

Been there done that too… Just work abs and lower body… Low impact cardio is great to keep fat off during healing… Im recovery from shoulder surgery myself just plenty of SS cardio, ab work, & legs… No reason to cause a imbalance and go back under the knife later

[quote]as wrote:
Had rotator cuff and labrum tear surgery some years back. I basically did low intensity cardio like walking on an incline and lower body on machines that use the pin system. Kept that fairly light too since I couldn’t brace myself when weight got heavier.

My opinion is to keep moving and keep blood flowing through your body rather than sitting around rotting away.
Not sure if this is true or not but I’ve read that only training one side of the body has some carry over to the other side that’s not trained. I even think Thibs mentioned that phenomenon.[/quote]

I had a labrum repair in my right shoulder a few years back. I was doing one-arm pushups with my left arm 4 weeks after surgery, and doing as much lower body work as I could handle, mostly lunges and other BW exercises for high reps. I can definitely say there was carryover in growth from training the opposite side. I did not develop any big muscle imbalances that hurt me later on.

OP,
Putting your body in an anabolic state will encourage healing. I was 35 at the time, so not young, but my body handled the recovery better this way. My PT “graduated” me at 13 weeks, more than a month ahead of schedule. I was doing two arm pushups off a wall at 10 weeks, off the floor at 12 weeks, and was pressing with a bar at 16 weeks. The one thing they told me to really wait on was pulldown/chinup motions. I took those very, very slowly, but at 30 weeks post surgery, I was doing band-assisted pullups, and 9 months out I was doing BW pullups for reps.

Start your rehab as soon as you are able, keep your protein intake above 1g per lb of BW, take your vitamin supps, and get enough rest. Push yourself, but let pain be your guide. If you let your PT know how much you understand with anatomy (assuming you know stuff since you are on T-Nation) then he/she will give you more than they typically give the average person.

One last bit of encouragement - 1 year post surgery I was back to doing olympic lifts, and within a year after that I was setting PRs in both Snatch and C&J, above my best lifts pre-surgery.