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Lifting after surgery?
Old Wed, April 11th, 2012, 01:40 PM   #1
jeramieb
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Default Lifting after surgery?

Question on how I should proceed with my Starting Strength program.

Long story short... I had rotator cuff surgery in Sept '11 and my left shoulder is still weaker than my right (obviously). Here is where I stand strength/weight wise...

Deadlift 3x5x225lbs <- I feel that's pretty good IMO
Barbell Row 3x5x135lbs <- Also feel good about this one
Squats (smith) 3x5x215lbs <- that one can be raised I believe, still working the kinks out

Overhead Press (smith) 3x5x85lbs <- This one is really tough
Bench Press (smith) 3x5x135lbs <- Again the last set is tough

I've been using the smith machine for most of my 'push' workouts due to my weaker shoulder.

I am 5'8" 195 lb 40 yrs old. Given this information do I need to suspend this program and work solely on regaining my strength in my left shoulder? Thanks.
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Old Thu, April 12th, 2012, 11:22 AM   #2
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Wow, 50+ views and no replies. I guess no one wants to touch this one?
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Old Thu, April 12th, 2012, 02:10 PM   #3
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You should test your strength using unilateral exercises. For example, using a dumbbell shoulder press. You should be especially careful not to injure your shoulder since these exercises will require increased stabilization and put all the load on one side of the body. If you find you are much weaker using one arm than the other, then you might think about correcting the imbalance.

Your lower body exercises shouldn't really be affected.
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Old Thu, April 12th, 2012, 02:21 PM   #4
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That's a great idea... using dumbbell shoulder press to see how far off my strength actually is in that shoulder. I don't know why I haven't thought of something so simple sooner. After this week of SS I was going to take a week off. Maybe I'll use that time (or the next week) and work solely on checking my shoulder strength difference with dumbbells.

Thanks again for the tip!
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Old Wed, April 18th, 2012, 02:14 PM   #5
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Ok after doing some 'testing' with dumbbells this is what I've come up with...

(My left shoulder is the one I had surgery on in September.)


Lateral Raises:
Right: 20lbs Left: 15lbs

Front Raises:
Right: 30lbs Left: 20lbs

Shoulder Press:
Right: 40lbs Left: 30lbs

Cable Rear Deltoid Flys:
Right: 40lbs Left: 30lbs



Some of the exercises (shoulder press, front raise & cable fly) I might have been able to go a little heavier (maybe 5 more lbs) with my right shoulder but I don't think I could have added anything on my left shoulder. It felt pretty maxed out.

Given this information do you think I should be okay continuing with the Starting Strength program or do you think I should halt that and work on getting more strength built up in weak shoulder?

Thanks.
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Old Wed, April 18th, 2012, 06:57 PM   #6
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If I remember correctly, the original Starting Strength routine uses back squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead presses, and power cleans as its main exercises. For the majority of these exercises, your weak shoulder will not have a significant effect on the performance of the exercise, so you should do the routine as written. For bench press and overhead press, however, I'd suggest using the program's parameters, but working with dumbbells instead of barbells for the first 6-10 weeks. For these exercises, start with your weak side and do no more reps with your strong side than you did with your weak side. You'll need to grab some microloading magnetic plates or use anther method to ensure continued linear progression with the dumbbells, as your minimum increment is otherwise going to be 10 lbs, which may be a problem.
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Old Wed, April 18th, 2012, 07:32 PM   #7
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That makes sense and sounds like a good idea to allow my left shoulder to "catch up" to my right. I have access to a full gym with dumbbell sets that increment by 5lbs so I think I'll be good there.

Thanks again for all the help on this. I'll be so glad to get this 'weak' shoulder behind me but I don't want to force it too fast and re-injure it. 'Cause that would suck!

As far as the SS program that I am doing is as follows:

- Workout A -
3x5 Squats
3x5 Bench
3x5 Deadlift


- Workout B -
3x5 Squats
3x5 Shoulder Press
3x5 Barbell Row (instead of power cleans)


- Week 1 -
Monday Workout A
Wednesday Workout B
Friday Workout A

- Week 2 -
Monday Workout B
Wednesday Workout A
Friday Workout B
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Old Mon, April 23rd, 2012, 02:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeramieb View Post
Wow, 50+ views and no replies. I guess no one wants to touch this one?
The reason people don't want to chime in here is that you're in the process of recovering from a major surgery. Bad advice could cause you to regress or injure yourself.

With that said, the number 1 reason for poor rotator cuff surgery outcomes is lack of patient compliance with post operative care and rehabilitation. You really don't want to have shoulder problems the rest of your life. I'm going to assume that you've gone through the complete post-op care/rehab process. If you have, I'm going to make an additional recommendation. Find a physical therapist with a background in either biology or physiology. Work with that therapist to make sure that your body hasn't adopted different movement patterns to compensate for your injury/surgery.

Whenever a person is injured, the body automatically uses alternative muscles to remove stress from an injured area. The problem is that the body doesn't naturally start to use the injured area again when it is completely healed. It keeps on using the alternative movement pattern which can cause pain/damage overtime. You must reteach your body how to use the old/correct muscle pattern.

Generally, physical therapy does not accomplish this goal. It checks range of motion but not which muscles are causing that motion. Nor does it check for joint impingement. The only way that this can be checked is if your therapist is putting their hands on you to feel which muscles are activating and to give you verbal feedback/cues.

This is only a personal anecdote, but I suffered daily pain in my right shoulder for over a year after I had a major shoulder injury. After spending time with the correct physical therapist, I learned that I was activating my traps during certain motions which was causing the joint to be impinged during the movement. If I had allowed it to continue I would have destroyed the joint over time. Over time I learned how to deactivate my trap and use the correct muscles to stabilize the joint. I have not had pain since.

Best of luck during your recovery.
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Old Wed, April 25th, 2012, 03:01 AM   #9
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Some good advice above. Also, be careful with squats too, as they could create problems for your bad shoulder (particularly low bar position). If your gym has a safety bar, you might give it a try.
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Old Wed, April 25th, 2012, 10:40 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the advice! I'm glad I posted this question here.

When you mentioned this madamert "...I was activating my traps during certain motions..." I know exactly what you mean. I had noticed that at times I was doing the same thing. I have been working on (and continue to work on) correcting this. I make those movements throughout the day and make it a point to ensure that I do not activate my trap. Once I realized I was doing this and started correcting the movement my shoulder has felt a lot better.

JoeSchmo... I have been working on (slowly) getting more flexibility in my shoulder which has helped me greatly when doing squats. I am now able to do traditional barbell back squats (only in high-bar position for now) using a bar pad. The pad puts the bar up a little higher allowing my shoulder to reach back easier. As my range of motion improves I may try moving to a bare-bar when squatting... but that's down the road a-ways.

I have been improving slowly (much slower than I'd like) but I know going slow and allowing myself to do things correctly and not forcing my body [shoulder] to move beyond a point that it's not ready to go to yet is the only way to go so I don't injure/re-injure myself. So far I have been keeping my workout weights lower until I can perfect form and allow for added strength to return in my left shoulder. It's slow going but I can see major improvements in the last few months which is great.

Once again, thanks to everyone who has helped me here (on this post and others). I'm glad I found this form and decided to become a part of the community. I look forward to moving past this recovery and making great strides in my strength building.
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