T Nation

Shoulder Surgery

Looks like I am going to be getting an arthroscopy hopefully this week. I would like to hear from others that have had shoulder surgery and what they did/did not do (or woulda/coulda) to get back to speed as quick as possible. I have a meet in November that I don’t want to miss.



i had a half inch sawed off of my left AC joint as a result of over use and the resulting excess calcification. So this was a bit more intense than what is sounds like your facing. Anyways rehab.

  1. i was told not to even jog the first two weeks after surgery cause the jarring wasn’t good for the joint. So i walked. Everyday for more than an hour. I got that from reading Louis Simmons at Westside. He said if you can’t walk your are REALLY injured. If you can, then the circulation from walking will aid the recovery. It did.

  2. when you start back in the gym. STOP when it STARTS to hurt. This is NOT the time to be Billy Bad ASS. This is not the time to “push through the pain” And please don’t think, “i can’t stop with such a light weight, or only a couple of reps” everyone will think i’m a pussy,
    If you tear your shoulder after surgery you will have a real problem.

  3. stretch stretch stretch. i’ll guess and say you really didn’t take this seriously before. I didn’t. I do NOW. And it works. Go easy after surgery, but once things get back to normal, read up abit on Dante Trudel’s DoggCrapp training. One of his principles is to Extreme Stretch each muscle group right there in the gym after it is worked. His training is Powerbody-building not Powerlifting, but Extreme Stretchs he advocates are designed to aid recovery and prevent injury and that crosses over to powerlifting. They push some heavy weight as well.

The Extreme Stetching is a pain in the ass, it actually hurts. But since incorporating it into my workouts, my shoulder, my back and my knees have never felt better and my lifts have never been heavier.

4)let your shoulder decide how damn important November is. There are meets in December and January and March…

good luck.


Going to depend on exactly what they are doing in there. I had to get cut open. They had to cut away some scar tissue and other build up. They also had to reattach three (if I recall correctly) ligament on the front side of my shoulder. Your recovery should be a lot shorter than mine was but the same principles should apply.

Hopefully it’s not on your dominant side. If it is, wiping your ass will be quite the experiance. It feels like your ass is three times bigger on that side. Might want to start practicing now while your still able to do a clean-up wipe with your dominant hand.

Do the rehab, especially the stretching as mentioned before. I slacked on this and lost about 10deg range of motion.

Do your mobility work. They gave me a little rubber band to do abduction and adduction. I got bored and gave up on those. It cost me recovery time.

Thanks guys, I appreciate hearing from people who have survived going under the knife.

are y’all able to push things like you did before? My biggest fear is that I won’t be “the same” after as before and unable to push as hard as I like.

thanks again

I had a pretty major recontruction and I don’t really notice any difference other than the range of motion. I had issues in the past but I attribute that to poor training methodology. ie heavy bench and dips with now prehab or specific shoulder work.

Just dropping by to wish you the best with the pending surgery.

Get the recovery you need and bust ass when the give you the go ahead

Keep your head up, you’ll be ready for November


i was told by my doc to go easy for 6 months before going heavy again (he’s a lifter as well) and that by 9-to-12 months i should be “good as new”. Of course being stupid and feeling no pain with light stuff after 3 months i started goin heavy again and my shoulder basically screamed at me “What the hell are you doin, would you please let me recover” So i did. The doc was right.

Again my surgery may have been abit more extensive cause they couldn’t use a scope to get the damn saw in there.

Three years later i’m lifting heavier and pain free. And smarter. I stop when a feel a tweak. By now you know the difference between simple muscle pain (which is good)and joint/tendon pain which is scary. Listen to your body.

Last two things. One: religiously stretch when it DOESN’T HURT. Thats the thing most folks miss. When they tweak something they stretch. When it stops hurting they stop stretching. I find it extremely boring but even on off days i’ll stretch 30-45 minutes.

Two: switch up exercises frequently. Again a Louis Simmons principle. Its good for the muscles and i think it helps prevent injury. I have been really pushing sets of 120 lbs dumbell incline flys for the past 3 weeks. Last week on the last set pushin like hell, my shoulder said “your gettin sloppy and it hurts”. Next chest day i switched to barbell inclines, different angle, more focus on the technique cause i hadn’t done them in a while and the shoulder was very happy.

take the rehab serious and you can get back to where you were and then lift even better cause you’ll be smarter.


I had a torn labrum repaired on my dominant shoulder. Of course I didn’t follow all my instructions, lost the sling after 10 days, and started using it around the house. I went through all the rehab and could use all the weight the therapist asked of me but when I was given the green light to train again, I had pain trying to press a pair of 25 lb DBs. I could easily do reps with 200 lbs more prior to surgery. Went to see another doc and had to do it all over again. Second doc said the first surgery “failed.” Couldn’t say if it was because of the previous doc or me. The second time I weas religious about following all of the instructions and doing all the excercises.

It’s been about 2 years since my second surgery and I have just about full range motion (within a degree or two), am pressing more than I ever have and most importantly, I’m pain free. I make certain that I do a thorough warm-up before pressing, try to keep the rowing/pull-up/chin-up volume in line with the pressing volume and incorporate some pre-hab/mobilty work on my upper days.

The only issue that remains is that I am not comfortable throwing a ball. I got asked to play on a softball team last week and I had to tell them I could bat, drink beer and bullshit but I couldn’t throw. I’m sure I can do it if I approach it cautiosly, I’ve just been hesitant. The motion just doesn’t feel natural anymore.

There’s been some great advice offered up in the previous posts that I will second. Depending on the extent of your surgery, you may want to reconsider November. Being able to wipe your own ass with the hand of your choosing is a little more important, big picture wise anyway.

Like tcsimon, I had a torn labrum in my dominant shoulder as well. My doc told me not to do rehab and it turned out fine. I just gave it the necessary time to heal before I started doing anything that might cause me pain.

Instead of back squatting, I used the Draper Top Squat until the shoulder felt stable enough. I avoided prone grip overhead pressing in favor of neutral grip dumbells for about a year, but was eventually able to go back to the prone grip with a barbell.

Even 3 years later the shoulder give me trouble every 5-6 months or so. I tried to pitch a ping pong ball at a friend and the thing just popped out and slid back in. I landed on it wrong yesterday while grappling and it actually popped out and stayed out for a few minutes.

Benching seems to be fine, but I also use a ton of arch so the range of motion is pretty limited. I’m assuming that you’re a strongman guy from your picture, so I would really take it easy and let it heal up as best as possible. Absolutely do not do anything that causes pain and maybe introduce overhead work in with dumbells and a neutral grip when you feel ready.

Best of luck on the road to recovery.


I just wanted to thank everyone again for all the input. I had my surgery last week. They removed I think 5-6 bone spurs, shaved a bit of the bones down and did something with some allesions (or some shit like that).

I have a machine that I strap my arm in that moves it to keep range of motion. I return to the Dr next week and am supposed to be able to start slowly working it back up.

I already have quite a bit of ROM back and am very optimistic I can get back to speed quick.

thanks again