View Full Version : An unfortunate realization...

November 25th, 2008, 12:46 PM
that I'm probably not going to get too much faster or serious about my swimming return without surgery on my right shoulder. I get an inflamed and impinged tendon (the bicep tendon I believe) in my rotator cuff causing some discomfort, but more that I just lose all strength. I saw a sports doc a few years ago and had an MRI and he wanted to go in but I put it off as I'm 37, not competing or a PRO athlete, and can live with it. It only bugs me when I really start to push and train. Rehab/strengthening doesn't seem to work or help.

Between the shoulder and a back issue (Spondylolysis) I just can't train like I need or want to. I'll still swim, strive to be as good as possible, but it kind of sucks to just realize it. The fixes just are worth going under the knife. I just want to have fun with swimming nowadays anyway, try some open water for the first time, and be healthy. Anyway...sorry, just needed to vent a bit. Nobody likes to be limited!:cane:

November 25th, 2008, 01:22 PM
Jeff -

Do not get too depressed.

This is my story:

About a year ago, I thought my recently rekindled swimming career was over, too. I thought I had a torn rotator cuff, or any other of a series of problematic issues. I felt a twinge in my right shoulder during a race, probably slept on the shoulder at night, and woke up the next morning unable to lift my right arm over my head or across my chest. I gave it a few weeks of rest, to no avail. Went to an ortho surgeon, who performed all the usual tests - diagnosis: no torn RC, but rather probably acromio-clavicular joint (aka AC Joint) arthritis, and some impingement. Gave me a shot in the shoulder. Basically 100% relief after 3 days.

A few months later (March 2008), it felt like the same thing coming on in the LEFT shoulder. Back to the ortho surgeon. No shot this time. Advice: lay off the hand paddles. Careful with the weight-lifting exercises that strain the RC (bench press, etc). Careful with amount of freestyle swimming. Do the RC exercises periodically.

Fast-forward to August 2008. I strapped on a B70 and swam much better than expected.

My two cent's worth: focus on doing what doesn't hurt, consult a specialist, try RC exercises and correcting any muscle imbalances.

November 25th, 2008, 01:40 PM
If you love swimming and your shoulder is limiting you and you are depressed about the fact that your shoulder hurts and then you have to back off....get it fixed! I've had mine fixed 4x and am happy i did it every time (after the rehab is over).

November 25th, 2008, 03:37 PM
What really set it off was weights (before I got back into swimming) a few years back. Since I finished swimming in college I've always lifted weight pretty regularly and can lift pretty heavy at times. I've had a cortizone shot and it helped some, but was only temporary. Done rehab, helped some, but had to cut out weights. It certainly doesn't help that I like to sleep on my side and on the bad shoulder as well. Surgery is the last option and I really don't want to be down and out for 3 months, or whatever. Plus I'm fine until I really push it. I've pretty much completely cut out bench pressing and doing heavy shoulder exercises (once my forte in the weightroom).....going for less weight and more reps, but sometimes it still gets to me. It generally never really "hurts", but feels like that "pump" you get after lifting weights and then I just lose all strength in it and I'm toast. Even shaving my face and head in the shower (I'm bald!) with right arm over 5-10 minutes aggrivates it.

I guess I really need to talk to the doctor again and just decide what to do. In the end I'd probably be happy I had it done, but its tough to sit out of my many hobbies while I heal (swimming, weights, motorcycles).

Doug Adamavich
November 25th, 2008, 03:37 PM
I had a scare with my shoulder about a year ago, sharp pain when streamlining off the wall, pain whilst swimming freestyle (even at a moderate pace), and pain at random times throughout the day.

My season got off to a bad start because of it. The MRIs, X-rays, and the rest could not find any "definite tears" in my shoulder. Doc said it could be a bunch of things but recommended anti-inflammatory medication and rest. My trainer also did some tests on me and determined that my left shoulder was weaker than my right one.

Amped up my dry land as much as I dared, backed off swimming and took my medicine.

Did not start training seriously until May, my goal was LCM Nationals in Portland.

Everything worked, no injections and no surgery! The whole episode hurt my training but I still did really well at Portland. I wonder what would have happened if I would have had all of April and half of May to train hard...

Should has been hurting lately so no Long Beach SCM meet and I have backed-off my training. Will spend the next few weeks riding my mountain bike and resting my body.

My advice, listen to your body and to qualified professionals. Your body has a self-preservation instinct, you just need to listen to it when I it trying to tell you something important.

November 25th, 2008, 03:53 PM
Thanks Doug! Yeah, all my x-rays, MRI's showed no tears. Back when I was visiting the Doc, about 2 years ago, it WOULD ache and really bother me in the middle of the day when I was just sitting at work. Typing on the keyboard would aggrivate it too back then. It was bad back then, not quite like that now. I'm certainly not over training (at least to my knowledge), so I don't think its that. I'm not a big one for drugs, but in this instance I believe that anti-inflamatory drugs might really help and I'll need to talk to the Doc about that possibly....but again they may also only be a temp cure.

I am also a freestyler, almost exclusively, so I can't really drop that stroke. My next best is back so... I also love pulling with paddles, strap, buoy (or any combination).

The doc I see is a Sports Med doc so I trust his opinion, I just need to get back in there after these few years for a discusion and check up on it and go from there. Who knows? This is all new to me as I never had any health issues while swimming when younger....:cane: creeping up I suppose?!

November 25th, 2008, 05:30 PM
Bummer. I hope you find a solution soon. I'd just say at this point, don't give up.

Getting older sucks, doesn't it? :censor:

November 25th, 2008, 11:50 PM
I lifted heavy, but since swimming I stopped lifting all together due to shoulders. Especially benching, dips and presses. Any pulling is not a problem such as pull ups. I don't think for me the weights are necessary, the strength is there.

Try eliminating weights all together for a while. Also, do strokes that don't over stress it. Do alot of kicking.

Don't despair.

November 26th, 2008, 01:24 PM
I had tendonitis/bursitis in my left shoulder last year. Sports medicine doc convinced me to get a shot. It helped me, but it doesn't help everyone. Hated to be out of the water, so I spent the next three months doing kicking only workouts. I don't really like kicking but was able to devise great workouts that went 2500+ yards. Did repeats, sprints, negative splits etc. Began to enjoy the challenge of kicking. Tried to kick a better time at 50, 100, 200 etc. Iced the shoulder everyday after swimming and for 15 minutes at night. Also took anti-inflammatory.

After 3 months of kicking I very gingerly started to swim. This all started in January and by the first week in April I was beginning to swim harder. I should also mention that I swam with fins on occasion to lesson the strain on the shoulder. Went to Austin in May and with only 4 weeks of good training did not do any lifetime bests. However, I swam the best 50 free I had in years, but as the distances got longer up to 500, the conditioning just wasn't there. I still occasionally, like this Monday, feel a slight tweak in the shoulder. I did a kicking workout yesterday and today just to rest the shoulder as I am getting ready for SCM championships in Long Beach next week. No pain and the rest is good. After Long Beach, I plan to take a month off to rest the shoulder and get back into training in January for the SCY season. BTW, the sports doc asked me if I ever take any time off. I told him no since I have always been afraid to stop, thinking that it will never come back. He convinced me that I should take time off, thus the month off after Long Beach. I still do the shoulder exercises 2x's a week.

Did I mention that I am 59 and am doing lifetime bests in the 500 free? My bests swims are still ahead of me! Don't despair, and don't give up, but throw away those paddles!!!!!

Allen Stark
November 26th, 2008, 08:18 PM
Everyone who has swum for very long has had shoulder problems at some time.I was pretty well messed up for 6 mo last year.Seeing a really good physical therapist helped me.I had physical therapy before but this guy was much better and that made a big difference.I kept kicking the whole time,plus some one arm work.Then some slow fist swimming BR and dog paddle with fins(it looks dumb but it is easy on the shoulder and helps ROM and even EVF.)Then fist swimming free with fins before working up to full hand with fins.Now is a good time to work on it as you have time to get better and still build up to the OW season.Stay away from paddles.