T Nation

Planning My Training After Shoulder Surgery


Hi out there!

I am undergoing a shoulder athroscopy in September and I am trying plan my strength training for the time after it. As i wont be able to load my left arm/shoulder for 6 months (thats what the doctor says), i think i my routines will consist of Leg and Core Training plus Sprint Training. Do you have any suggestions or are there people that where in a similar situation?

btw: if i work now more on shoulder mobilisation now, will it help after the surgery?


i was in a similar situation last year. I did modified version of the 20 rep squats and milk program. However i could deadlift and do pulling motions with my shoulder. My best advice would be to find your weak points and use this time to correct those.


You'll need a saftey squat bar.


I had an arthroscopic shoulder decompression last year, and no way did it take 6 months!! I was cleared to begin light/rehab work within 2 weeks. During that 2 weeks I still worked the other side of my body full speed and pretty much became a monster on the leg extensions and curls haha.

The 6 weeks after that I was told to start training at 25% of what I would normally train and increase the load 25% every 10 days (I still kept hammering the "off" side of my body). So pretty much within 2 months I was back to getting after it, obviously being wary of the shoulder and not pushing if anything felt wrong or off.

I definitely second the safety squat bar recommendation.


I'm currently doing PT hoping to avoid surgery for a torn labrum and frayed supraspinatus ligament, and was told that if I had surgery, I would not be medically cleared to drive a car for 6 weeks, and would be "100%" in 6 months. When I pushed to find out what "100%" meant, the surgeon told me I would be able to put my t-shirts on without any pain or stiffness.

I think it all depends on exactly what type of surgery you're looking at. I'll third the safety squat bar suggestion though. I can barely grab my regular bar now, and I haven't even had surgery.


my labrum needs to be repaired.the doctor said, after 6 month i would be able to play football again.

@matt: didnt you had a big disbalnce after training only one side 100%? i was told that i wouldnt be able to rotate my arm out, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVN6JdkBR1M
do you made still have the routine written down?


Toto, no I had no problems with imbalances. With having my left out of commission, my biggest concern was not losing strength in the good arm.

After talking with my doc for a while, he decided to let me handle my rehab on my own. I didn't follow a routine, but I can give you an idea of what I did from my log entries. Basically a bunch of machine stuff and trying to very gingerly moving my left arm without causing pain, but get it moving

Tuesday June 17 I had my surgery on my left shoulder.

Saturday June 21 was my first day in the gym. I did the following:
hammer strength bench press
right arm - 1plx10x3

seated Chest supported row
right arm - 2plx10x2, 2pl/25x10x2
left arm - no weightx8x3

hammer strength pulldown
right arm - 50x10, 75x10

pushdowns with D handle
right arm - 50x10x3
left arm - 20x10x2

leg extensions

leg curls

Did pretty much the same workout again on that Tuesday (7 days post surgery), then nothing till Sunday and squatted with the safety squat bar up to 3 plates and then shut it down. I lifted conservatively, but also not being a pussy.

2 weeks and a day after my surgery is the day the Dr told me I could resume training, but anything that put pressure on my shoulder (pretty much everything haha) had to be at 25% for 10 days increasing every 10 days.

That is what I did, but like that other dude said we probably had different surgeries - I'm no Dr I just play one on tv. Take it slow and easy, and if you don't like what the doc tells you get a second opinion also.

Good luck


Hey guys, I'm new here and was reading about the shoulder surgeries. On July 4th I took a bad fall while running and landed hard on my left shoulder. The pop was loud and I knew I was in trouble.

I had a Grade III AC Separation and a fractured Coracoid. On July 10th surgery was done where they placed 2 steel pins into my clavicle to provide fixation. They also re-joined the torn ligaments in the ac joint.

It's going on 5 weeks now and the pins will come out at 6 weeks post op. Dealing with these pins in my shoulder has been the hardest part.

Can't wait to get into PT and start moving this shoulder again. Weight training has almost come to a hault, except for leg presses, extentions, and calves. I've done some one armed stuff, but it's not the same.

My body is starving for the pump, and I look forward to getting back to my routine.

Has anyone here experienced a similar injury?


Toto 86, a decompression (lke Matt had) and a labrum repair are night and day as to what you can complete. The decompression is nothing more than going in and shaving down the ends or the acromion and clavicle to provide more clearance for the supraspinatus tendon. Since Matt's was done arthroscopically there is virtually no down time. You can usually start moving the arm throughout tolerated ROM the same day, both passively and actively.

The labrum is a whole other story. You have to have a miniscule amount of tissue tacked back down to bone (the rim of the glenoid fossa). Motion past neutral external rotation in the first few weeks will pull the repaired labrum away from the rim of the glenoid fossa and you are screwed. The labrum is so thin that you don't get repeated attempts at reconnecting the same section back to the glenoid. Think about a steak, there is only so many time you can sew a steak back together before it becomes ground beef. In the case of the labrum that is usually once or twice if you are lucky.

Also, depending upon where the labral tear is located will also determine the type of exercises you are allowed to complete. If it is a SLAP (superior labrum anterior posterior) tear and repair you will not be able to do any resisted biceps exercises for about 6 weeks. If it was me, I would also avoid any heavy rowing or pulldown type motions as these also call upon the biceps for assistance. The long head of the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum superiorly at the glenoid fossa and you would literally tear the labrum right off rim of the glenoid fossa (see ground beef reference above).


now, thats a great answear (not for me, but for the contained information;)
as it seems like you know what you are talking about, how could my rehab look like? if i only cant work my arm for 6 weeks, i take it.


Toto theres a million sites on the internet for rehab exercises. My advice to you would be to worry about the FULLY rehabing that shoulder, and maybe some isometric leg exercises. You have a whole year until next football season, you will be much stronger if you let your shoulder heal then lift a hundred percent then lifting 65% for the next year.


It's not that you can't work your arm for 6 weeks it's that the work must be done in protected ranges of motion. Initally, you will doing mostly passive ROM and assisted ROM progressing to isometrics rather quickly. Again, avoiding motions such as external rotation past neutral and biceps curls. You will soon start rowing motions with theraband, external rotations to neutral with theraband and sidelying with light DBs, all while continuing to progress your end ROM. You won't be able to complete pressing exercises (bench, shoulder) for about 4-6 months. Usually can start modified ROM pushups (wall pushups, counter pushups, etc around 2 months). Most all of the rehab will concetrate initially on restoring ROM and strengthening rotator cuff and scap stabilizer muscles. All of this is dependent upon the amount of surgical intervention required to correct your problem.

Right now, I would concentrate on external rotations with either theraband or DBs. Scapular retraction exercises, band pull aparts not past neutal, neutral grip presses (if not painful), avoid heavy biceps exercises and especially avoid preacher curls.