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isobel
October 9th, 2010, 12:37 PM
I had labrum surgery 8 weeks ago. I struggled with whether it was necessary. PT had minimized the pain, but still every time I swam I hurt, and I couldn't do stroke, thus making my ephemeral goal of a nonperformance art 400 IM elusive, plus I also like stroke.

Did I do the right thing? Too late to know now. I waited a year, and then decided in favor of the surgery because I feared that later in life (10 years from now), I would have wrecked my shoulder and not been able to have the surgery (too old). I want to swim forever.

The surgery itself was not painful (love that Percocet), nor were the 3 weeks post-surgery, except for the sling I had to wear (again, love that Percocet).

But the PT and daily life now are very challenging (I'm 8 weeks post-surgery). I had torn the labrum off the bone, plus torn the back of my labrum (Bankart tear), plus a few other things were ready to go, so everything was tightened and stitched down.

The good news is I will have 100% mobility once I am done with PT.

The hard news is I don't know when that will be, or when I will be able to swim again. I have just started kicking in the pool, and that feels very very good.

The cautionary part of this tale is that had I paid more attention to my technique and posture (I tend to slump), I don't think I would have needed this surgery. During my pre-surgery PT, I did tons of I's, T's, and Y's, prone on the floor, and tons of scapular strenghthening, so that pre-surgery I was swimming my fastest in years, albeit with pain. I wish I had done those scapular strengtheners all along (I can post a silly video of me doing the most important ones).

The other thing I paid attention to was when I pulled with my left arm (the one that had surgery). I noticed with horror that I was pulling with my left arm as I was rotating to the right to breathe. Hmm, that will tear my labrum up!

Leslie (the Fortress?) (someone on this board) is absolutely correct about using your core first and foremost! But what I find (and again, cautionary tale about masters swimming) is that I am very competitive, and want to go fast at practice no matter the price, so I was paying very little attention to technique and just zooming along.

Long posting, but wanted to share that labrum surgery recovery is incredibly painful. Getting stretched, doing the exercises, unbelievably painful. Hoping that next week I progress to above 90 degrees adduction (?) (out to side) and to using weights with PT. Trying not to get depressed when swimming is my main antidepressant as well as social world.

So, valiant masters swimmers, pay attention to your arm entry, how you rotate, and core strength. I wish I had paid more attention to strenghthening my back, especially my scapulae and all those little muscles that keep them moving properly.

Here's the video posting; it's silly, I know, but these exercises, while not for power, did give me a lot of strength when I swam. And the PT noticed this past week that I still have a lot of strength in my scapulae, which I hope will work for my benefit.

Hoping to be moving my arm in a full circle in, uh, 2 months?

Cheers. Isobel.

YouTube - Swimmer shoulder stability exercises, Part 1

Thrashing Slug
October 9th, 2010, 03:11 PM
Thanks for sharing this Isobel. It's a good reminder to all of us that we need to invest time in preventative strengthening exercises. Sometimes I slack off and neglect my rotator cuff exercises, but this has given me a new determination to be consistent.

It sucks that you have to go through such a painful rehab process. I sympathize with your need to swim. I pretty much go nuts when I am not able to get in the pool. Stick with the rehab, get strong, and let us know how it goes. We are rooting for you! You'll come back stronger than ever.

norascats
October 9th, 2010, 04:10 PM
Shoulder injuries are tough. I was pulled down by two Siberian Huskies chasing a rabbit. They went so fast I didn't have time to land on my knees. I also didn't let go of the leashes till after I hurt my shoulder.
I couldn't move my arm for a month. The bruise didn't fade for a month. I went to a chiropractor who helped unknot the injured muscles. I should have stayed in the practices and just kicked. I'm much better now and have been back to practicing (lost a month of outdoor practice time.
I am just now able to pour liquids without fear of dropping. I started with front scoops and was able to do some freestyle stroking by riding over the stroke. I'm now up to pulling, but I'm off some.
I know this is healing, but not soon enough for me.
Keep working on it and you'll get back.

gdanner
October 9th, 2010, 07:25 PM
Two of my younger friends had labrum surgery in college in the past 3 years and both went on to do personal bests in their main events...eventually. I remember them having to be patient during the recovery process. It will work out. Good luck!

Bobinator
October 9th, 2010, 11:42 PM
Good luck Isobel!!! I hope the healing goes well. Keep kicking; you will have the power of a motorboat before you know it and the arms can just go along for the ride!!

swimshark
October 10th, 2010, 07:53 AM
Isobel, one of the teens I swim with tore his labrum about a year ago. He was 16 when he tore it and he did it lifting weights. This is a kid with a 6-pack of abs and was in incredible shape, doing 30 min of dry land 6 days a week. He was also on the #1 ranked relay team in the state. So he was in great shape and a super fast swimmer. His tear had nothing to do with bad posture or technique. Sadly, I learned from him, it can happen to any one, any time.

He had the surgery in May. He started back in the water in Sept and is still kicking mostly but is working on his arms now.

I hope you are able to get your arms moving again soon and find yourself swimming faster than ever!

Medicine Woman
October 10th, 2010, 04:27 PM
Thanks for posting your story and best of luck with your recovery.

swimcat
October 12th, 2010, 10:11 AM
Isobel- I wish you the best of luck in your recovery. Don't push the swimming and when you do return, i would use long fins.
I had surgery in 05 for shoulder seperation and at same time, they sewed up torn labrum. maybe it was 2 tears. have to check scars.
It is so hard to do but listen to your body. :)

Allen Stark
October 12th, 2010, 02:15 PM
I am so sorry about your injury and painful recovery.Here are a couple of tips from my own experience with shoulder problems-first do NOT try to pull before you are OK'd to do so.I also would go easy on the one armed swimming as that is a good way to hurt your good arm(been there,done that.)When you are OK'd to pull I'd suggest you start fist swimming,dog paddle with fins and a snorkel.This will put minimal strain on your shoulder as you get started.I find swimming with the snorkel is much easier on my shoulders.Ease back into it and you will find you are going fast much sooner than if you push too hard and get hurt again(again,been there,done that.)

isobel
October 12th, 2010, 02:26 PM
Thanks for all your support. I haven't been approved to move my arm above 90 degrees yet, so pulling hasn't been tempting. I have gotten in and kicked three times; bliss! On my back, both arms at sides; relieves tension in the old neck and shoulder area, plus I feel no pressure to kick hard, just pleasure in being supported by the water.

The idea of fists and fins is excellent. And yes, pre-surgery, I did a lot of one-arm (good arm) swimming until I realized I was likely to blow it out, so I stopped.

My goal is to work very hard at being a plank with arms at sides, so that I am so strong through my center that I don't even have to turn my neck to breathe.

Uh, that's very hard for me to do... But that's a first goal.

Mostly, I don't want people to be like me and be so competitive that swimming as fast as I could became my mantra, to the detriment of observing my technique. Also, I really really wish I had known about those I, T, and Y exercises, done on the floor or bed or kitchen table with very little weight. They really made my back strong. (I had been doing all the internal/external rotation stuff; triceps, biceps, planks, lat pulls, but never these smaller-muscle exercises for my scapular muscles.)

Dang. I know I win the prize for longest poster. (Did that contest ever occur?)

Cheers, and thanks for all the support.

ElaineK
October 12th, 2010, 10:00 PM
Dang. I know I win the prize for longest poster. (Did that contest ever occur?)


Have you read some of my posts? I think you have some competition in the longest post department... :blush:

Good luck with your recovery, Isobel. Although I haven't been through labrum surgery, I did have a first rib resection for thoracic outlet syndrome (non-swimming related injury); a major 41/2 hour shoulder surgery. Listen to Allen's advice! And, listen to your physical therapist! Be patient, do exactly what is prescribed, and listen to your body. It will pay off in the long run. I never thought I would be able to swim again, after my surgery. Compete? Hah! But my surgeon assured me that if I did exactly what my PT told me to do, I would be able to swim again. And, he was right! :D

isobel
October 13th, 2010, 03:23 AM
At risk of sounding like a drug addict, for those who had labrum repair surgery, did you ever need Percocet or similar opiates for pain during PT?

I thought I was doing well re pain, but after seeing surgeon today, she said it was time to start stretching my arm behind my back.

Ha ha ha. I did it after I came home, just holding it with my good arm (she said to use a towel to pull it up to stretch).

Her attitude toward pain during the PT was to suck it up. I usually have liked her, but today I was trying to explain that the pain leaves me in tears, for one exercise I had been doing (adduction? out to side). And with this new level of range of motion, I woke up one hour after going to sleep thinking I needed to knock myself out by hitting my head on the wall (I am borrowing someone else's phrase for this image).

How can you listen to your body when it is so painful to move it, yet not moving it will mean (a) wimp, (b) no progress.

Just wondering if any of you had to use something stronger than Motrin during PT after your surgeries.

Hot water bottle has helped significantly since 1 a.m. (now 3:30 a.m.).

Sigh. Generally I have a high tolerance for pain but this is rather unbelievable level, the trying to stretch my arm behind my back.

Given it is middle of night, perhaps I will feel much better in a.m. and won't feel like such a drug addict. But am curious re others' experience with pain tolerance/management during PT.

Gracias. Swim some fly for me, please, everyone? I miss it.

jroddin
October 13th, 2010, 11:34 AM
I had surgery for a torn labrum in December 2003. It took over a year to swim decent, but it pretty much took 2 years to fully return to where I was before surgery. After 6 months normal life activities resume to normal, but if you are pushing yourself 100% (in a meet, for example) then I found it pretty much took 2 years to return.

Regarding PT and the stretching: umm, I can't compare it to child-birth for obvious reasons but it was something I never hope to have to go through again. It was some of the most pain I ever felt in my life. But I kept going back because everytime I walked out of PT I felt much better. But the actual stretching was excruciating. I was fully off the drugs by then - I never even thought of taking drugs to get through PT. I was happy to finally be off them after the surgery. I didn't start the PT until 6-8 weeks after the surgery.

Jeff

orca1946
October 14th, 2010, 05:45 PM
My son in law has a friend that did the same thing. Surgery took almost 1 year after to be able to swim a full practice.

Thrashing Slug
November 29th, 2010, 12:42 PM
How's the recovery coming along, isobel?

I found a new favorite shoulder stability exercise. You take a kettlebell, raise it above your head with one hand, and walk the length of a long room or hallway. Back and forth, then switch hands. Or if you're confined to a small space, just pace slowly with the weight above your head like a caged, deranged animal. Letting your hand sway back and forth slightly causes more shoulder involvement.

Depending on the weight of the kettlebell, you can either hold it pointing straight up with the weight above the handle, or let the weight drape over the back of your hand. The former involves the wrist and forearm muscles, whereas the latter allows for heavier weight and more load on the shoulder and core muscles.

Rich Abrahams
November 29th, 2010, 02:13 PM
I found a new favorite shoulder stability exercise. You take a kettlebell, raise it above your head with one hand, and walk the length of a long room or hallway. Back and forth, then switch hands. Or if you're confined to a small space, just pace slowly with the weight above your head like a caged, deranged animal. Letting your hand sway back and forth slightly causes more shoulder involvement.

Depending on the weight of the kettlebell, you can either hold it pointing straight up with the weight above the handle, or let the weight drape over the back of your hand. The former involves the wrist and forearm muscles, whereas the latter allows for heavier weight and more load on the shoulder and core muscles.

This exercise is called the "waiter" and is primarily used for core stability. A great complementary exercise is the "suitcase" where you try to walk with perfect posture with a heavy kettlebell (for me 62 lbs.) in one hand. keep the other arm relaxed and at your side. It is great for spine stability while your legs are moving. Good for grip strength as well. I like it better than the side plank for you obliques because it is more dynamic.

Rich

isobel
December 3rd, 2010, 02:40 PM
How's the recovery coming along, isobel?

I found a new favorite shoulder stability exercise. You take a kettlebell, raise it above your head with one hand, and walk the length of a long room or hallway. Back and forth, then switch hands. Or if you're confined to a small space, just pace slowly with the weight above your head like a caged, deranged animal. Letting your hand sway back and forth slightly causes more shoulder involvement.


Oh my gosh! I am nowhere near that exercise you suggest! Sigh! I am doing very very light repetitions of seven Theraband exercises every day at home, very light rows, internal/external rotation, some sort of straight arm downward pulls, all still very hard for me, and doing the "harder" stuff at PT (2 pound weights for flys on my stomach for example, with great difficulty).

I have been okayed to swim freestyle, and to swim anything (I'm passing on fly for now) as long as it doesn't increase my pain; my surgeon is big on "functional movement" and not so much PT. So I can swim 200 yards of freestyle now nonstop, at a very slow pace.

Trying not to get discouraged, and REALLY struggling with depression (just spent Thanksgiving in hospital because I was so depressed). Swimming truly is my antidepressant. Drugs don't work. I swam yesterday but today am "stuck." Also, hospital offered "gentle" yoga class which I foolishly took but totally screwed up my back so am hobbling around apartment feeling incredibly crippled.

Thanksgiving dinner at hospital: instant mashed potatoes, peas, some sort of pureed butternut squash. For some reason it was delicious (there was meat but I am vegan). There were also six pies but I didn't eat any pie until the latest of the night, fearing I would eat all six.

Home. Quiet here. Need that water. Heal, back! It will heal quickly. Heal, shoulder! Must practice patience. Not a strength.

Hope you all have had good holidays. I plan to kick the one-hour swim. I'm guessing 600 to 1000 yards because I plan to have my counter give me M&Ms and chat with me and not make it serious, but just participate.

Uh, the real truth is, I get tired. This is where the contrast between the dedicated swimmers and me shows up. I don't like to kick, though I make myself kick. And even when I kick hard I don't seem to get faster, my legs just get tired. Also I get bored. I think that's why I never made the Olympic team.

O la. Hum di dum.

Isobel-o-la

Bobinator
December 3rd, 2010, 03:37 PM
:fish2:Do you use fins when you kick Isobel?
I hate kicking too......and I am a horrible kicker.
I always thought fins were a cop-out but since I started using them for kick sets I am starting to like them.
Just a thought that might work for you.
Hang in there girl!

isobel
December 3rd, 2010, 07:32 PM
:fish2:Do you use fins when you kick Isobel?
I hate kicking too......and I am a horrible kicker.
I always thought fins were a cop-out but since I started using them for kick sets I am starting to like them.
Just a thought that might work for you.
Hang in there girl!

Thanks. Yes, I do use fins when I kick, mostly for dolphin kick, because I can do no-arm dolphin and get very aerobically tired. But since I had hurt my back with the "gentle yoga" class, yesterday I just swam a little.

At the same time, I feel like I am cheating when I use fins. Or, to put it another way, I sure wish my body position were as aligned and high in the water without fins as it is with fins, if that makes sense.

Usually I do a combo of both, and challenge myself to 25-yard kick sprints on :45 (sigh) without fins, usually coming in on :40, eight times in a row. That also gets my heart rate up. It's better than when I first got back in the water and was doing them on 1:00.

Gotta look for the progress. Always.

Again, la di da, Isobel-o-la