T Nation

Training After Shoulder Surgery



I am a longtime lurker first time poster.

I have a few questions about diet for fat loss and muscle preservation during rehab from shoulder surgery.

I tore my rotator cuff and labrum in April and had the Surgery in May in the 5 months since the injury I have gone from 200lbs at six three and 14%bf to 250lbs 30%bf.

Now I know it is not rocket science how this happened I stopped working out completely my diet went to hell as I did not cook my meals I ate take out,pizza and microwave crap as well supplemented pain management with beer.

I was excused from duty for an entire month and may have even raised my estrogen levels with daytime television.

Who knew daytime television could be so intriguing when viewed on Oxy and Corona.

So here I am fat and out of shape working a desk with my uniform looking like a wetsuit.

Caloric demands during healing are higher but how much higher?

Do you think that 10% over maintenance calories for 200lbs would be sufficient to supplement healing?

Other then eating to reduce inflamation such a upping my Omega 3s what else would you do?

Doctor gave me the ok to workout as long as I do not do any upper body or stress the shoulder such as squats or deadlifts and no overhead movements which kills my normal workout.

Running is out as it makes my shoulder scream like a little girl at a beiber concert that and my stride is that of a hippo on drywall stilts funny to watch but you know it is going to end badly.

I was thinking of incline treadmill walks and stair climber for cardio to butn fat.

But what to do for resistance training?

I have never had to train around an injury before any advice clinical or from experience is great appreciated thank you.


Hi there,

I'm brand new here aswell, but earlier this year I lost 25lb before doing any weights work. That took me from 275 to 250 at 5'11

I did fasted incline treadmill walks as part of my programme, and that seemed to work well.
After I got a bit fitter I also started doing a bit of kettlebell work as a higher intensity cardio.

The circuit I did was:
1 minute two handed swings
30 seconds each hand, squat, clean and press
30 seconds each hand, one handed swings
30 seconds each hand, snatch
1 minute alternating hand swings
90 second rest, and repeat.

I would do this for about 20 minute (Three circuits). It really got the heart rate going.

I know your shoulder wont let you do something exactly like this, but could you do sets of swings with 1 hand??

The other thing I did with the treadmill was walking intervals. I always kept the speed the same, but would go from flat to incline. I timed the intervals by songs on my I-pod. 1 song flat, 1 song incline. Seemed to keep it more interesting for me, and that was the main thing for me. Keep it interesting.

I also went for walks during my lunch break. My motto was: 'keep fatty moving', and walking is easy enough that you dont ever really burn out on it. I tried to move around in some way for about an hour a day.

Can you swim with a kickboard and fins, or something like that??

The biggest thing though is to eat right. I can't do the whole ultra low carb thing, so I just ate 3 healthy meals a day, but no carbs (I define this as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes) after lunch.

I don't know about eating while healing, so can't help there.

Good luck, and keep us updated.


Thanks for the reply.

Thanks for the idea on the interval idea on the treadmill I like the idea of one song incline one flat.
Swimming with a kickboard is a good idea as well.

Like I said no mystery how I got this way, just got to bust ass and eat clean.


For recommendations regarding nutritional/caloric requirements during recovery, take a look at Berardi's article posted here: www.precisionnutrition.com/pn_injury.pdf



"Caloric demands during healing are higher but how much higher?"

Thats funny.
thanks for the laugh.


get off your ass.

i had an inch and a half sawed off my AC-joint 10 years ago (thats in your shoulder) from over use of the heavybag(use to box).
The doc said do nothing for 8 weeks. Not even jog because the jolts would cause problems.

So i'm on the internet and come across an article by Louie Simmons (if you don't know who he is do yourself a BIG favor and look it up). He broke his back oly lifting and the doc's told him he'd have to have it fused, and he'd never lift again. He said screw that and taught himself and fixed it himself. He IS Westside Barbell.

Back on point, Louie said no matter the injury, if you can.....walk. It keeps the blood flow goin, takin out the bad and bringin in the good. If you can't walk then yeah your seriously hurt. Have you ever noticed though in the hospital thats exactly what they do. They try to get you up on your feet ASAP and movin around after any kind of surgery.

So i called up my doc a week after my surgery and said "hey is it OK to walk?" and he said yep.
i hung up the fn phone and went for a 5 miler. The next day 6, the next day 7.

Oh, i hate walkin, it sucks.

But it beats the hell out of gain 50 lbs of fat.

And are you serious about a diet? here is one for you.

The Green Face Diet
you can eat as much as you want anytime. Your just limited to any vegetable that is green and anything that had a face. Nice and simple. No calories to count, nothin to measure out, no fancy supplements to order online, no fancy blender crap.
Any vegetable thats green
Anything that had a face.
As much as you want. all day long. Try it.

"Caloric demands during healing are higher but how much higher?"

thats funny



A bit harsh but true. I had my rotator cuff pieced back together with five anchors and was on a spin bike three days after surgery. Sure, I was in pain. But the blood flow resulting from any movement (walking, spinning, step ups, etc.) speeds healing and decreased my pain.

Good luck to you in your recovery.


Thanks for the replies, I got no problem with harsh it is a harsh world and you do not get anywhere blowing sunshine up each others tailpipes.

Couple of things first I may have worded it poorly but read my post again the injury was in April and the surgery in late may was did not get the doctor to sign off on anything past the physical therapy till late august and by that time I was fat body status.

I am government property and cannot do anything the doctor wont put in writing I get hurt are even spotted by the wrong snitch doing something not on profile its my ass.

That being said I have been a lazy pile and I know it, for now it is all the NEPA I can get as well as Incline treadmill work.
I am going to try swimming with a kickboard and hope no one harpoons me.

I even got the doc to put in on my profile so I don't have to worry about the snitches

Also revamped the diet much like the green face diet mentioned above but I call it Blood and Dirt if it didn't grow in dirt or have blood don't eat it.

Again thank to all that responded so far any ideas to keep interesting as are always welcome even if you tell me I am being a speed bump.


I had a pretty extensive shoulder surgery...yes I took 3 months off...I actually lost weight (gained a little fat but lost a ton of muscle). I was a sling with about 52 straps to completely immobilize my arm for 6.5 weeks, but I was back in the gym within 8 weeks (very light weight and cardio.)

3 months before i lifted over 10 pounds on the injured side.

4 months I was deadlifting 135 again.

6 months everything was close to being normal except for benching...still can't bench for shit, probably never will be able to even get to 225 again.


Like others are saying...you have to move. Whether it is simply walking, stationary bike, or whatever. Extra blood flow to the shoulder is critical in order to promote healing and recovery.

I was diagnosed with Distal Clavicle Osteolysis and had shoulder surgery in December of 09. The Doc. performed a distal clavicle resection, which consisted of removing approx. 1 CM off of the end of my clavicle at the AC joint, a subacromial decompression (shaving the bone from the acromion to create more joint space). Once I was under the knife the Doc. also found that my labrum was frayed from impingement and that had to be repaired as well.

Anyway, the second day after surgery I began to rehab my shoulder three times a day, seven days a week. My wife is an occupational therapist, so I had the luxury of having a live in therapist at my disposal. I attribute my aggressive rehab as to how well I was able to recover from my surgery.

I too work for the government. The difference was, I didn't give a shit what they thought. It was my injury and I was going to rehab the way I thought was best. As a result I was back to full duty in 6 weeks, post surgery.

When I went to see the city doctor in order to get my release, he informed me that I was attempting to return to work way too early for the work that I had done and initially told me he was not going to sign my release. After some discussion he agreed to run me through his ridiculous battery of tests, which I passed with ease. He signed my slip.

At the 8 week mark I was rolling on the mats teaching defensive tactics. Mind you, I admit I was guarding my shoulder, but none the less I was rolling on the mats.

I agree that doing lower body stuff was a challenge, especially if you were doing squats or deads. I too could not support the bar on my back without significant pain to the shoulder. I used a dipping belt and resorted to single leg squats, supporting myself against the cage with my good arm. You have to get creative. Something is better than nothing.

Today my shoulder is stronger than what it was prior to my injury. My lifts are all up with the exception of my bench. My other shoulder gives me trouble on occasion and the BP makes it angry, so I am leery of pushing it.

Moral to the story. You have to move.