T Nation

Shoulder Surgery, Longest Recovery Ever

I’m a competitive bodybuilder who literally just started competing in 2017 with only two shows under my belt. I was always overweight kid and I made it my goal to lose weight and blah blah blah. I learned how to lift on my own. I had a few people who showed me a few things along the way. Someone decided they wanted to train me for a show. From the gym to the nutrition. It was a free coach. Long story short… He pushed me to widen my grip on bench press and go to heavy to quick. I already had instability in both shoulders. It doesn’t seem like it if you look at me but I do. Before long I made it a habit as he spotted me to widen my grip and slam the bar on my chest. My left shoulder popped out of socket during a dumbbell overhead press. I drop the weight and pushed my arm back in.

As time went my right shoulder took on the stress my left shoulder couldn’t lift. My form got ugly and I didn’t pay any attention and neither did he. Eventually I went in for an MRI because I couldn’t stand the pain. Torn labrum. They call it the 6 and 8 tear. It doesn’t seem big but it had to be fixed because it was so painful. I was literally stuck doing isometrics and stretching on my shoulder everyday before surgery. Jan 2 was my surgery. My doctor had me on complete lock down and still does. I was released from my bionic arm aka sling on Feb 21. I’m still not at my bank teller job. I’m not allowed to do legs or cardio at the gym.

Point blank he says he doesn’t trust me. He doesn’t understand why I haven’t got full ROM. I’m just wondering how long has anyone been out with this similar surgery. It was arthoscopic. So nothing crazy. I go to PT twice a week and do all the required stretches and isometric at home. I just want to be back in the gym soon. I wasted two preps last year and I’m losing a whole year this year. I was told competing was out of the question. I wouldn’t be able to build my muscle back. I have lost a lot of muscle. It’s depressing.

What does your PT say? If they clear it then your doc should be ok too. If you’re recovering well with ROM coming back and such I don’t see why not. Just promise them you’ll stop doing stupid risky movements/form in the gym?

I asked my PT how long before lifting and he gave me an appx. of June or july. I should be able to resume to normal cardio in about two weeks. He said I could resume to normal cardio once complete ROM has returned to normal. But wouldn’t that clear someone for lifting too? Or I have to wait for the 6 months of actual healing time. I know that the labrum is a really small tendon and you only have but so many chances to repair it. Haha I definitely learned my lesson from doing risky nonsense in the gym.

Machines and exercise bikes!

I had a more significant surgery than that in college and I was out of commission for three months but I didn’t stop training everything. If your PT won’t let you ride a recumbent bike then find a new PT. That’s ridiculous.

You should be able to train legs on machines and upper body if you’re careful. I would stick to single arm cable movements.

I’m probably having surgery in May/June to re-anchor my biceps tendon and I will definitely be doing the things I just listed with my healthy limbs.

I had rotator cuff surgery on Jan 25. Was immobilized for 6 weeks doing passive only PT. I’m gradually progressing. My ROM is 175 now and I start strength training at PT in about 2 weeks.

I did cardio almost immediately and I began single arm exercises soon after. Personally I think your PT isn’t doing their job. Is he manipulating your shoulder at PT?

BTW, this is my third RC surgery. They’ve all gone about the same

Healing and rehabbing occurs in a stage by stage process. Early on tissues are not ready and you do nothing. Then they are a little better and you restore ROM. Then they are a little better still and you can resume light activity. See where this is going? Maybe there’s a time a place for a certain level of loading/intensity but that’ll be the health professionals job to assess where your healing is at and what your tissues can tolerate. I guess also it’s up to us to stick to their plan/advice and give them feedback like if it’s going real well or faster than expected

From what I understand in the process of coming back from injury ROM is usually first on the check list because it’s the attribute that you lose quick and that you need full ROM first before you start lifting or training at lower weights/intensity and gradually build back into it. If you go heavy again without restoring ROM you’ll fuck yourself up good or should I say worse than in the first place.

Cardio is relatively low loading and mostly lower body dominant so it makes sense that it’s the early stage of return to activity. Improves healing IIRC and maybe more important you’re doing some exercise to keep you sane. Probably not at the stage where you can go benching just yet. Even lower body movements such as safety bar squats need one to reach up to stabilise the bar and put pressure on the shoulder girdle. IMO I don’t think lying ham curls or quad extension machines would be risky at all but maybe they are wary of you stepping foot in the gym and turning on beast mode or something and hurting yourself again lol. You know yourself best so if you know you can be plenty conservative and disciplined then try expressing this to your healthcare providers.

I expect you’ll be advised to gradually return to activity but tendon and connective tissue stuff is usually longer to recover from than muscle injury.

Do what you can to stay sane. Maybe perfect your diet and sleep to hold onto max muscle and recover faster. Maybe take some time to reflect on how the injury happened in the first place so that injuries can be avoided in future: Aside from not doing risky movements in the gym or listening to knobhead trainers lol. Stuff like knowing your body better, knowing when to go hard and push things to the max and when not to, understanding of the role of AAS/other drugs in building/risking tissue integrity etc.

If it makes you feel any better muscle memory is real (sounds a bit bro science lol). So if you’ve made the gains in the first place coming back from time off strength and muscle will come back faster and easier than the first time you built up to that.

In the meantime you just gotta stay sane lol

Shoulders are the most difficult joint to fix, and medical science has by far the worst success with shoulder reconstruction than any other joint.

Every major injury and major surgery is different and everyone responds and recovers differently. I healed freakishly quick from broken bones, knee surgeries, and muscle tears. Yet it took me 6 months to even think out picking up a weight when I had my labrum and shoulder capsule repaired.

That said, stationary bike is an excellent tool to aid recovery from about day 2-3 on. Steady state, zero impact cardio to keep your heart in shape and immune system firing is what you want.

If you feel like you need to switch PTs, by all means, do it. Feel free to question and ask them to explain in detail their methodologies and reasoning. If they don’t or can’t, or you don’t feel satisfied with the answer, might be time to move on.