From The Patient Perspective – Part 2

November 21, 2017

In my Last blog (Sept 2017) I wrote about my own experience of shoulder surgery and rehabilitation. It is almost 2 years now and I want to report that I’m still doing my PT exercises and still seeing gains in ROM, strength, and function. It may be discouraging to some that I’m still doing rehab exercises 2 years out, but I’m driven to recapture and even obtain a higher degree of fitness and function of both of my shoulders. I weight train at a fairly high level making my goals for my shoulders perhaps a bit higher than most.

I also had a second surgery in Dec. 2017 on my other shoulder to resect the nasty little bone spur that was proving to be a little pesky at times, causing some impingement in the left shoulder. This surgery and rehab were significantly shorter, costing me only a week off from work as compared to 8 weeks off the first time around.

One of the goals of physical therapy is to help our patients move more efficiently and in the case of the shoulder to be sure that the main joints of the shoulder maintain an on-axis position throughout motion. Stiffness and muscle tightness on one side of the joint will cause the shoulder joint to come off axis putting increased stress on the shoulder that may eventually lead to injury. In physical therapy, we attempt to be sure the forces crossing joints are balanced. We balance motion and the mobility of the join, but we also have to balance the strength of the muscle that cross the joint.

Although no one likes to be injured, it has been rewarding and educational for me as I seek to use my own shoulders as the laboratory for improved understanding and experience in how to improve the efficiency of my own shoulders. This experience has changed the way I train my shoulders which now includes a significant amount of flexibility as well as specific strengthening of the rotator cuff muscles.

The shoulder, in particular, has a high degree of mobility making it less stable compared to a weight-bearing hip joint which has a high degree of structural stability. Balancing the forces that cross the shoulder are a must for full optimum recovery as well as optimal performance in sport and athletics. Weight training if done improperly can lead to significant muscle imbalances causing increased stress in the shoulder joint. Training the shoulder or any area in the body should include not only strengthening for the weight training perspective but exercises to improve efficiency, decreasing time-consuming injuries as well as allowing for improved performance of the region being trained.

Hopefully, as we get older we continue to take care of our bodies. Regular exercise is an important component, but the way we exercise may need to change. I’m much less concerned with driving up a big bench press and more concerned with having an overall healthy body. Keep exercising, be smart and enjoy the journey.

Article written by Scott Bookhout, MsPT