T Nation

Rot. Cuff-Labrum Surgery Rehab


Hi. A month a go I had a few tears in my deltoid labrum repaired along with a torn rotator cuff (well there goes the baseball career...). I know that a few of you on here also went thru that. Phys therapy is okay with isometrics, stim, ultrasound and whatnot. I knwo to expect that i won't be able to lift for another month or so and that for the short term boxing and overhead movements are out. It stinks because my GF is into Oly lifting and I wanted to work with her as the workouts she does are interesting (watch for her in the 2008 Olympics).

So, for those of you who have went thru this, when were you able to lift again without pain, what, if any supps did you use and how long did your pain last?


I had a completely torn RC and a torn labrum as well that were both surgically repaired several years ago arthroscopically. My rehab was uneventful; lasted about 6 weeks. I set up a two year plan of rehab with about 12 levels. I continued on my own, progressing only to the next level when I felt I had mastered all the goals of that present level.

At this time, 2+ years post-surgery, I subjectively place myself at about 80-85% of my pre-injury status. I have no pain at all. My flexibility is slightly sub-par at the shoulder and elbow. My strength is 80-85% in all my lifts as compared to pre-injury levels.

I have not completed all the levels of my plan, nor do I think I will be able to. I think I was overly optimistic about my recovery. My surgeon felt I would be able to perform my duties as a Physical Education teacher and no more. I have surpassed his prognosis with plenty to spare; I have not attained what I thought I might be capable of. I still feel with some more time and training, that I will eventually hit 90-95% of my pre-injury strength levels. I have had 2 injuries that occurred within 9 months of each other and both required surgical intervention.

The cumulative effects of both have made my progress of late slower than I expected, but I still see some gains. Maybe my age is beginning to work against me as well; I will be 50 in May, 2006.

I hope you are satified with your recovery and that you set your sights high and attain all your goals. If you have any questions, please ask and I will be happy to answer them.



I like the whole idea of setting a few short-term goals at a time. Right now I want to get out of the pain period, my range of motion is good, though I am still swollen and living on Advil.

I just started on some bands for decompression movements and am using a T-Bar (not a lifting T-bar). Do you have your "rehab" from the past 2 years typed?


I do not have it...all my stuff was destroyed when my house burned to the ground just after surgery. I could tell you generally how it went.
The entire time I still did cardio on a recumbent bike while still in a brace/sling. I also hit the opposite side harder than ever; heard there may be some cross transfer of strength.
For the injured side, it looked something like this:
Month 1-2; Work on regaining flexibility in all planes of shoulder, as well as elbow/forearm. Some basic strengthening to get me through my daily activities as a Phys. Ed teacher.
I concentrated on ext. rot. as surgeon stressed this. I used a broomstick for flexiblity and to start re-learning the movement patterns for all the lifts I intended on keeping in my program.
Month 3-6. Cut back on flexibility and increased overall total body strength. I used the good arm to help the bad. I changed grip widths until I found what worked for me. I found what exercises I could do and those I couldn't do. I dropped the ones that were painful or had lots of clicking, popping, snapping in shoulder.
Month 6-12. Lots of dumbbell work on the exercises I kept. Toward the 10-12 month time, I added a mini band to the dumbbels. I still worked the good side with DB's to failure, either by going to a max single, or attemping PR's for reps.
Month 12-24. Weaned off DB's to BB's. Experimented more with grip width & finalized grips for squat, bench press, & behind the neck press. Started a progressive program in each to work toward pre-injury strength levels. Tried a bastardized WSB, wave, linear and non-linear periodization combo. I also added dips and pull-ups/chin-ups. Using BW at first, then adding BW+weights. For the deadlift I cycled the Finnish DL routine I have used for 15 years, with regular DL's from the floor or platforms of various heights.
I also tested my 1RM's in the gym every 12-16 weeks and in 2 PL contests where I competed raw. I have only recently begun to use suits, wraps, BP shirt. I have bought a very loose BP shirt to train in...loose enough that I can put it on myself with no assistance. I have to end now but will follow-up with the rest ASAP.
Good Luck with your rehab and life in general.


sucks that you got injured. I had the same injury last year(supraspinatous tear with SLAP lesion on labrum)I tore it re-racking on military press. I had surgery in April 2005. I wasn't as strict with my physical therapy and am still paying the price. I have given up on any overhead exercises and just started back in the gym about 8 weeks ago. I still have pain from time to time but my strength is returning slowly. My advice to you would be to do the PT religiously and give yourself at least a year to recover.
For the rest of you not yet injured oldies I would stay away from military presses.


My surgery injury was alittle different with a 2 tears in my rotator only a 2in and a 1 in.

Keep working the opposite side there is a cross transfer most definetly.I did quite a bit of research on this subject. I will say within 8 to 9 months you should be okay. and be at 80 to 90% I was 47 when I had the operation which was 5 yrs ago. I prefer DB on bench. That way I can do Push Press with the barbell If I use a barbell for bench my shoulder is then effected on the push press go figure?

Just keep up the rehab religiously and you will be lifting sooner than you think


I had a SLAP tear and tore the tendon of the long head of my biceps off its insertion - two surgeries for the repair within about a month. The injury was ~6 years ago and outside of popping and clicking in overhead movements, limited flexibility is my only real complaint. Its almost as if my shoulder never wants to loosen up - always feels tight. Rehab and continued flexibilty exercises have helped some but there hasn't been a gain in ROM in years. A shoulder icepack sleeve has been a great find for when the aches start - usually from overuse.


I just started to add some resistance - that famed band. It is a start, my flexibility is good, but sometimes the pain stops me from trying to progress.