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Shoulder Progress

Posted Apr 17 2013 4:06pm
For the first time in a while, it seems like I'm seeing some improvement with my injured left shoulder.

For a while now, I've been avoiding any overhead lifts.  I've also been avoiding some work that has me hanging from a bar, although I'm still doing band-assisted, wide-grip pull-ups and some chin-ups.

During the CrossFit Open, I did a few overhead reps, and that certainly didn't help things.  But, two weeks ago, on back to back days, both my chiropractor and a sports medicine orthopedist suggested a couple other lifts I should remove from my workouts.  Primarily, this meant cleans.  Even though cleans are not an overhead lift, they do result in me moving the bar from the ground to the racked position at my shoulder, and they were likely still causing some problems.

Both practitioners also suggested perhaps a bit more aerobic type of work and less CrossFit, at least until we can get the shoulder healthier.  I certainly complied last week, when I only worked out two total days.  I had some busy work days, some days dealing with stuff at home, and I spent the weekend fly fishing rather than exercising.  Given that I've done some sort of exercise approximately 5 days per week so far this year, a week with 5 rest days is certainly an easy week for me.

Monday night, I went to CrossFit.  The first part of the workout was heavy back squats and front squats.  Neither of them bother my shoulder and I did that part of the workout.  I haven't pushed hard on back squats through the winter, mostly because we usually do squats on Monday and I'm usually a bit tired from skiing.  This Monday, I got up to 325#, the heaviest I've gone since my 365# PR in October.  I could have lifted more, but I did enough hard reps that I didn't feel the need.  The second part of the workout involved rope jumping, ring dips and cleans.  I did push-ups rather than dips and deadlifts rather than cleans. This made the workout easier than planned, and I pushed hard to get maximum value out of it.

Last night, I changed some of my rehab exercises a bit during my warm-up.  For some of the rehab work I'm doing, I've been using resistance bands, especially when working on external rotation.  Last night, I switched to a light kettlebell for that work.  It was definitely harder, but didn't seem to bother the shoulder.

I completely skipped the planned warm-up at CF last night.  Even though it was done using light weights, there were lots of overhead movements.  Instead, I concentrated on shoulder rehab work.  The strength part of last night's workout was snatches and clean and jerks.  Those are both on my "no-go" list.  Instead, I did 5 rounds of 10- dumbbell bench presses paired with 20 sit-ups.  Then, I did 2x400m of running.  By then, everyone else was ready for the rest of the workout - 12 minutes of cleans and kettlebell swings, where the goal was to get as many KB swings per round as possible.  I opted to row 500m rather than doing 10 cleans.  In 12 minutes, I only managed to get through three rounds, and my KB swings per round were 20, 20 and 22, for a final score of 62.

And even after two nights in a row at CF for the first time in a month, my shoulder felt OK.  I was a little tired from the volume of work I did yesterday, especially the rehab work, but I was able to sleep with very little shoulder pain.  It has been close to six months since I've had a truly pain-free night of sleep, with the exception of two nights right after a cortisone injection.

So, working out less seems to help.  Doing some cardio/interval workouts rather than lifting seems to help.  Taking a "rest" weekend to go fishing seems to help.  Yet I'm in pretty good shape and I don't want to give up the fitness I currently have.  So, I'll continue to try to find that sweet spot that hopefully lets my shoulder heal while I do what I can to stay fit.  But, after months of very little progress, it's nice to see some changes over the past two weeks.

In another four weeks or so, I will have a decision to make.  I can decide to have a platelet rich plasma treatment on my shoulder.  That can be done in early June.  I could decided that I'm making progress and I want to defer the decision on the PRP treatment.  I could decide I'm not making progress but I don't want to spend almost $1,000 out of pocket for the treatment.  Or, maybe I'll be almost back to normal and decide I don't want the treatment at all.  That last option is, of course, the goal.
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