Today I will share my personal story of how I successfully found a way to live and work out with a shoulder injury.
I injured my shoulder 20 years ago; to be exact, I have torn my rotator cuff; to be more precise, I have torn my Teres Minor.
The Teres Minor is a small muscle that helps you rotate your arm and is one of the four muscles in the rotator cuff. It sits on the back of your shoulder.
Suppose you want to know firsthand how to work out with a shoulder injury. Keep on reading.
How to Exercise With Shoulder Pain?
If you have a shoulder injury, it can be difficult to exercise without causing further damage. To keep your shoulder safe while exercising, here are some tips: Start slowly. Don’t push yourself too hard. Start with lighter weights and gradually increase the intensity as you progress. Don’t do any exercises that require you to lift your arm above your head. This could put too much strain on your shoulder. Instead, focus on exercises that work the muscles around your shoulder, like rowing, chest presses, and lateral raises.
Make sure you use the correct form when performing exercises. Poor form can cause further injury. Take regular breaks throughout your workout and use ice to relieve any pain or discomfort. Finally, if you experience any pain while exercising, stop immediately and consult your doctor.
A BIT OF ANATOMY.
Shoulders do so many essential things that we all take for granted. It’s responsible for simple movements like opening a car door, combing your hair, throwing a ball, or picking up your kid, for that matter.
I will assure you that if one day you will injure your shoulder as I have, you will not take those simple movements for granted ever again.
All motions look easy but, from an anatomical point of view, are pretty complex. To put it in a way that we all understand: the shoulder makes simple movements look easy with the help of the rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff exists of muscles and tendons; it protects the shoulder joint and is responsible for being able to move your arms to the side and over your head.
A rotator cuff tear can be a result of daily wear and tear. For example, a painter, a carpenter, or a baseball player makes the same movement daily.
It can also happen suddenly in a car accident, lifting something heavy, or falling from your bike. Usually, you will have to seek physical therapy, and in the worse scene scenario, you’ll even need surgery.
MY SHOULDER INJURY EXPERIENCE.
I’d already gotten used to working out with a shoulder injury. Of course, there were times it hurt more and other times less, but in general, the feeling of soreness was always there. The best description is that it felt like a dull ache that comes and goes.
Sometimes when I made a ”wrong” sudden move, it would result in highly intense stinging pain. It would last for a minute or so, and it would slowly diminish again. After this, it could take a couple of days or even a week to recover. Unbearable.
My mistake was that I ignored my injury for years and didn’t take it too seriously. What a mistake that was. Fifteen years later, I decided to do something about it. I sought physical therapy, and I started to work out.
Many inquiries and tryouts later, I found a way to work out effectively without compromising my shoulder. This time I wouldn’t ignore the fact that I have a severe shoulder injury.
RECOVERY AND MAINTENANCE OF A SHOULDER INJURY
It’s recovery time. The good news is that you can recover from a shoulder injury or rotator cuff tear.
Ten sessions of physical therapy helped improve my shoulder injury a lot.
I still use the exercises I did for my shoulder injury recovery at the gym to warm up before a workout session. I have gotten used to doing the exercises daily and am happy to say that I have been working out without pain ever since.
I didn’t even think that would be possible. I accepted that I had to live with this annoying shoulder injury for the rest of my life. I am glad I was wrong!
Guys, it is possible to have a rotator cuff tear (shoulder injury) and have a quality workout! You can have great workout sessions and even build your shoulder muscles. The trick is to have the know-how to train smartly and responsibly.
EXPERT TIPS ON WORKING OUT WHEN RECOVERING FROM A SHOULDER INJURY.
The following tips made such a massive difference to me, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
I assume you have visited a doctor/specialist who told you that surgery is unnecessary and you can recover by exercising. You must stop your training immediately when you feel uncomfortable pain.
1- DO THIS EVERY TIME AS A WARM-UP BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT.
Please start warming up that shoulder /rotator cuff area with the following exercises. It would be best if you did a shoulder external rotation exercise.
For this, you only need a rubber band. Take the rubber band in your hand, elbow in, and tucked into your side. Keep your elbow tucked in and move your arm out to the side, feeling the resistance of the rubber band.
Breathe in as you move your arm out, and breathe out as you let your arm come back. Don’t flare your elbow during the movement; keep it tucked into your side at all times.
Do three sets of 15 reps, and you are ready for your workout. You can vary doing these exercises with two arms at a time with the rubber band or use the cable machine.
Do this, and you will notice that you will strengthen your rotator cuff muscles, will improve your posture, and you are warmed up and ready for your workout session. Here is a video that shows you exactly how to perform this exercise.
2- DO THIS EVERY TIME AFTER YOUR WORKOUT.
I want you to finish doing Face Pulls. We can perform this exercise with a cable or a rubber band. I prefer to perform it with a cable. Set the cable up high on the cable machine (above the level of your eyes), and what you want to do is pull the cable towards your forehead.
Make sure you are trying to point your thumbs backward while doing this. Keep your elbows down (below the shoulder) and approximately at the same level throughout the exercise. Again we’re getting an external rotation. Ten repetitions, and then we go straight into the Trap Raise.
Here you grab the cable and come straight overhead. Again, lead with your thumbs. Furthermore, concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in as you pull or come overhead, and breathe out as you lower or let the cable come back.
Three sets of 10 reps each, and you are done today, my friend. These exercises will improve your rotator cuff and shoulder strength so much, and they will also improve your posture immensely.
Use light weights and maximum concentration. Remember you don’t have to perform these exercises with much weight. Here is a video of one of my favorite fitness influencers, pro-athlete trainer Jeff Cavaliere, to show you exactly how to execute this.
Of course, there are more options, but the combination of these two tips has significantly changed my posture, rotator cuff strength (despite my rotator cuff tear), and my confidence in working out in general. That is why I decided to name this part “EXPERT TIPS.”
I’m happy to share this article with you guys. My shoulder issue is history because of these simple exercises. You need to try it out and be consistent.
I noticed the improvement right from the beginning and started to perform my workout sessions with much more confidence. I pick up the weights comfortably without constantly thinking about my shoulder injury.
SOME EXERCISES TO AVOID FOR NOW.
Now I know better. I banned the following exercises from my training routine for life!
They always felt uncomfortable to me, but everybody performs them, so I’ll do them as well.
These exercises put the shoulder in a delicate position. It will cause your shoulder joints to become unstable, which can lead to shoulder injury or worsen the injury you already have.
1- Lifting weights above your head.
2- Behind the neck, pull down.
3- Behind the neck press.
4- Bench dips.
5- Upright Row.
All the above exercises put too much strain on the shoulder, causing an unnatural internal or external shoulder rotation, and can damage the rotator cuff and worsen your shoulder injury. I’m even physically unable to perform these exercises comfortably, except maybe the upright row.
I even stopped doing the traditional squat. The problem is not so much the weight but the grabbing of the bar behind my neck while squatting, which caused a lot of discomfort in my shoulder because of my shoulder injury. The good news is that there are many alternative exercises to train the same muscle groups.
A shoulder injury and a rotator cuff tear are very annoying. It shouldn’t be a reason to stop working out, though. Of course, if the shoulder injury is severe enough, see a specialist and recover little by little.
Do physical therapy and give your shoulder injury some time to heal. I made the mistake of not finding out what was wrong with my shoulder for many years, and when I finally did, my life changed.
Not only could I work out again, but in general, that “numb soreness” that I constantly felt (even while sleeping) slowly disappeared.
I strengthened the muscles around the rotator cuff tear, which resulted in more ability to move my shoulder and arms without pain. For example, I can pick up my daughter again without worrying too much about my shoulder.
I accepted living with the constant sting in my shoulder. I remember being a little lost trying to find accurate information about this matter. I hope this article will guide you to recover well from your injury, continue working out in the gym, and do your daily chores more comfortably.
How ridiculous is that?! Please don’t act as I did in the past, and follow what I describe in this article. That way, you have a good chance of being back in the gym lifting those weights in no time!
Well, my friends, thank you so much for reading, and see you soon.
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Stay healthy and strong!