T Nation

Rotator Cuff Surgery


I am a 44-year-old female who is a competitive powerlifter. I'm scheduled for arthroscopic surgery this week for a full-thickness rotator cuff tear (supraspinatus). If any of you have had this, I'd appreciate hearing about your rehab and return to lifting. I'm sure I've had some cuff degeneration for awhile but tore through the muscle in my last meet in March. Am wondering if it's realistic to ever return to max benching. I should mention I'm very tiny (110 lb.) and am only looking for a bodyweight bench.

Thanks for any response.


kpsnap, I have had surgery for a labral tear, and just found out I have another one. recovery took about 6 months until I could lift again, then just started really light. I did feel like I was getting stronger and then rushed into it again and set myself back by going too far too fast.

there is tons of info out there, Eric Cressey has a shoulder 4 DVD set which I just picked up it is great.

Good luck


Is it possible to return to max benching? Yes. Will be it anytime soon? No. It is very possible though. It will be a very long recovery. Make sure to listen to your ortho and follow your rehab properly. Do not rush things at all. I worked with a football player who was medically DQ'd due to a severely injured shoulder followed up by an intensive surgery (biceps tendon relocation, labral repair, subcapularis partial tear, supraspinatus full tear). I didn't start working with him until he was already DQ'd and was about 6-8 months post-op and he still had severe limitation in shoulder ROM (couldn't even reach his arm fully overhead to get something out of a cupboard). At that point, he was past the basic rehab stage, so in addition to the advanced rehab, we focused a lot on improving tissue quality and did a lot of soft tissue work on his pec, lat, and subscap to help with ROM (ART, trigger point work). Within another 2-3 months, he was reaching overhead, starting some OH presses and light bench work. That was about 1 1/2 years ago and he has been training hard for a while now, doing basically a normal workout.

Points of my rambling would be:
1) Take your time with rehab and expect it to be fairly lengthy. It may not be the same length as my example, as his was a very significant injury, but it will still take time.
2) Make sure that ROM and soft tissue quality are not ignored. I would ask your doctors about when they would find it appropriate to begin more aggressive soft tissue work (ART, Graston, etc).
3) Find what limitations you had that caused some of the injury to begin with and make sure to address those, so you will not have a recurrent injury.
4) Stay positive. This probably relates to expecting a lengthy rehab, but try and stay positive. You will become frustrated with things, but just remember you are in it for the long haul and you will be better off doing the rehab right and not rushing.

Best of luck!