Okay, so you’re a very active person and lift weights or exercise about 2-4x’s a week. You felt something go wrong in your shoulder and knew it wasn’t good. You went to the doctor and your worst thoughts became a reality. BOOM… it’s your rotator cuff. Now you can’t lift for a month and when you do get back to lifting you have to take it easy. Now you’re left wondering…

Can you get back to heavy lifting after a rotator cuff injury?

This blog is specifically designed for you if you’re wondering:

  • Does a rotator cuff injury require surgery?
  • Can I heal from a rotator cuff injury?
  • Will I be able to lift weights if my rotator cuff is hurt?

“It’s said that a wise person learns from his mistakes. A wiser one learns from others’ mistakes. But the wisest person of all learns from others’s successes.” – John C. Maxwell

We couldn’t have said it any better. That’s why we are going to introduce one of our past patients that was going through the same exact issue to give you the opportunity to learn from her success.

Meet Jamie

Jamie is a healthcare practitioner who loves to be active with lifting weights and skiing. She started having some pain in her right shoulder while she was lifting – it was a little sore for a few hours at first, then it gradually began to bother her not only during and after lifting, but also driving and sleeping. Over a few months, she noticed that it was harder to get heavy weights overhead. Her strength progress plateaued, and she began  to get nervous that something was really wrong with her shoulder. 

She avoided seeing any doctor as long as possible – what if they told her she had to stop lifting? Lifting helped her feel strong and capable. Losing that part of her life would be really isolating, and tough to fathom. 

The Problem

When we met, Jamie already had the results of her MRI showing a partial tear of the supraspinatus (one of the 4 rotator cuff muscles, highlighted in orange below). She had also seen a naturopathic doc who had done her 1st of 2 planned injections to help stimulate healing. She was a little unsure how all of this would work out, considering she had a tear – would it heal? Would it ever be the same? How much damage was too much to come back from?

The cool thing about meeting Jamie was how her passion for lifting was just so apparent – it was easy to see how impactful it was for her to work hard and feel strong. It was also evident how much her shoulder was interfering with her ability to feel that way. We helped her see that her body is resilient and adaptable, and with the right progressions, she would be able to return to lifting at a high level. 

The Plan

We collaborated on a plan to gradually get her shoulder motion and strength back over several months. It started with some movements and exercises that were pretty basic but manageable as her shoulder repaired and strengthened.

Throughout our several months working together, we celebrated small victories, like lifting a 5 pound weight overhead and doing a push-up – both things that were building blocks toward the ultimate goals of feeling strong and powerful again. We talked about everything from having good ribcage position to avoiding common training errors and improving shoulder mobility.

Now, Jamie is back to full strength, throwing heavy weights around and she truly feels like herself again.

Here are some good shoulder exercises, in our “Ease Shoulder Pain With 3 Exercises” blog, that will set you on the right path.

Torn Rotator Cuff

Alexis. Another proud proud past patient of DPT at her powerlifting competition last year!

If you’re experiencing pain or tightness, get it checked out immediately!  If you’ve had a recent shoulder injury and aren’t sure where to go or if you should keep lifting weights, request a Discovery Visit! We’d love to find out how we can help.

Images 1 and 2: Essential Anatomy Version 5.0.5

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