Dealing With My Biggest Injury To Date (A Rotator Cuff Injury)
It is now the beginning of December and my shoulder has finally returned back to 100%. Earlier this year I was riding full speed on my skateboard, holding my GoPro camera when my wheel got caught in a sewer grate. I was immediately thrown down on my side. Effectively ruining my rotator cuff for majority of a year.
The next few months would be filled with rest for my injured shoulder and worry that I may have damaged my shoulder beyond repair. I attempted to do simple workout movements I was accustomed to only to find out that my injury severely weakened me. That was when I was determined to fix my shoulder and began to do some research on ways to rehabilitate it.
Here Is My Story Of How I Fixed My Rotator Cuff Injury
One of the first things that I did was find a video by a YouTube Channel called “Alpha Destiny”. Alex, owner of the channel, suggests that a close grip overhead press with a slight shrug at the top of the movement will help alleviate pressure on your shoulder. I tried it and was surprised to find that it worked. I started off with just the bar and as time progressed I added a bit more weight as my shoulder began to heal.
An obvious choice when it comes to fitness recovery in general is the RICE method. This is the general protocol for any type of injury and it merely stands for Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation. I would highly recommend purchasing a heat pad as well as an ice pack. It will not only help you with your rotator cuff injury but almost any injury you find yourself in. Use the heat pad in conjunction with the ice pack to help alleviate the pain as well as promote healing.
One of the best pieces of advice for a rotator cuff injury is simply to avoid certain movements that hurt until you are fully healed. These include things like reaching for an object behind your back while sitting in the front seat of a car or sleeping on the injured shoulder. Also, one thing that I found is that if you sit with your shoulder internally rotated for an extended period of time you may experience some soreness. I found that relaxing with my shoulder externally rotated was much more favorable.
I found two different exercises which felt amazing (video below). One of which involved standing upright and placing the hand of the injured shoulder on the back of a chair. Simply walk backwards slowly while leaning forward and get a good stretch in your shoulder, then slowly walk forwards. This is an excellent movement which feels great even on an injured shoulder. You can do this movement quite frequently as well, about once an hour, and it will be a great tool in your arsenal on your path to rotator cuff rehabilitation.
The second exercise (video below) involved placing your back against a wall and and assuming the football referee field goal stance with your thumbs against the wall. Then you simply move your arms upwards until they are inline with your body (all while keeping your thumbs firmly against the wall) and come back down again. This one also feels amazing even on an injured shoulder and is highly recommended.
This may seem weird but one video that I found talked about doing a dead hang in order to free up some space in your shoulder to alleviate the impingement. What they suggest is to do an dead hang on a pull up bar with an overhand grip. Start off at about 15 seconds or less then over time attempt to do more and more time until you can do a minute. What they said is that this movement will help your tendon make a grove in the bone to free up some room. Apparently this movement should hurt a bit however, you won’t be doing any real damage to the structures in your shoulder despite the pain. Sounds weird however, I tried it during my recovery and think it probably helped. Check out the video below if you’re interested.
The One Rotator Cuff Injury Tip You Won’t Get Anywhere Else
Now, while most of the things I mentioned thus far were tips that I scrounged from other sources. I do have one tidbit of advice which I gained from personal experience. Earlier, I mentioned that a video led me to find out that I could still do overhead pressing even with a rotator cuff injury. This was awesome because it gave me the hope that I could still do other exercises as well. So I attempted to do a flat bench press and found that at the very bottom of the movement I felt a lot of pain and pinching.
That’s when I tried to do an incline bench press on a very high angle and found out that I could still do incline bench pressing even with the injury.
I also found out that I could do almost every movement that I used to do besides horizontal pressing, side lateral raises and certain isolation movements that put my shoulder in an uncomfortable position. However, what I did to keep up fitness in my chest was overhead pressing, dips, and incline benching on a high angle.
As time went on, I could lower the angle of the bench slowly but surely and my shoulder kept getting more stable and stronger. That was until about a month or two ago when I finally was able to do a full range of motion on a flat bench without any pain. This was an extremely happy moment for me as I realized that my rotator cuff injury was nearly 100% healed!
Basically to wrap things up, a rotator cuff injury can be pretty serious and take a long time to recover. Below are the “ClifsNotes” on how to deal with it.
- Avoid All Movements That Hurt Your Affected Shoulder
- Use The RICE Method To Speed Up Recovery & Promote Blood Flow
- Avoid Horizontal Pressing Movements Until You Can Do Them Without Discomfort
- Don’t Sleep On The Affected Shoulder
- Do Some Of The Physical Therapy Exercises Listed Above Frequently
That should just about cover it. I want to thank you for reading and if you’re currently dealing with a rotator cuff injury please let me know in the comments below!