View Full Version : Pep talk? Somewhat related to swim strokes post

January 9th, 2011, 04:55 PM
MAIN POINT OF THIS POST: How much should I listen to pain when swimming after labrum repair? (Long post...)

I am now at 21 weeks post-labrum repair. That's a little more than 5 months, using my little brain.

I am wondering what to expect. I have finished PT (4 months of it), am strong with all the exercises, yet it really hurts to swim.

Initially my surgeon just said to swim through all the pain, that that would be the only way to get "functional" movement back, specific to swimming. However, she also let me have 2 more months of PT, thankfully.

But new things have emerged after this surgery. My elbow starts to hurt so that I cannot swim at all after about 500 yards. The shoulder joint itself still is very sore. And for some reason I now have impingement somewhere when I rotate my arm (I did not have this pre-surgery). Also, I have new pain in my biceps/deltoid area that was not there before.

I do listen to my body and stop when it hurts way tooooo much, but otherwise I push myself to swim despite the pain, making sure that I don't experience more pain later. I both swim with fins and without. And I continue to do a lot of kicking. Breaststroke is least painful (because I am not very good at it); fly I haven't tried; backstroke I can do maybe 200 yards, and freestyle my limit is 500 yards. Speed of swimming doesn't make a difference in level of pain.

I still am regaining range of motion.

I know it is a long journey, possibly a year before I can really swim the way I want. I am not a patient person but am working on patience.

Anyone with history of labrum surgery have any advice about what pain to listen to, what to ignore?

Re stroke technique and wanting more posts on technique, I definitely noticed that when I was breathing to my right, I was pulling with my left arm (the one with the torn labrum) at the same time, essentially torquing my left arm every pull. So I am working very hard on not doing that.

I also enjoy the Website "GoSwimWeekly," which has a lot of things related to technique and efficiency.

And I continue to investigate the idea of "scapular swimming" (Kipp Dye and Milt Nelms (?)), looking at videos on YouTube of how Natalie Coughlin swims freestyle, where she uses her core and body strength to throw her arms forward, thus lessening stress on her shoulders. She talks about swimming as if walking. Thus no high elbows, no early vertical forearm, no long, extended arm pre-catch.

All a long learning curve.

The good news: no recent fires in my (new) toaster oven.

Michael Heather
January 9th, 2011, 05:31 PM
I'm not a doctor and haven't had labrum surgery, but do have a guideline that I go by for pain.

If it is simple muscle aches or even burning sensation, it is fine to swim through, although not at high intensity, A long (2000+ yards) warm up will do many things to get the muscles relaxed. This also helps with range of motion, but the focus is on warming up (as slowly as necessary), not speed. In the warm up, it is also helpful to have someone who can critique your stroke and for you to implement changes. Faulty stroke technique is a big culprit in shoulder damage, and Masters are real good at emphasizing the wrong stroke thousands of times if their coach is not on top of things.

Sharp pain anywhere in your joints or musculature is bad. Stop swimming. Sharp pains in the intestine is gas. you can swim with that if you can stand it.

January 9th, 2011, 06:36 PM
Sharp pain anywhere in your joints or musculature is bad. Stop swimming.

Generally, I agree, but nothing about this recovery has been without intense pain, especially regaining range of motion. So I have had to listen to doctors tell me to do the opposite of what I would usually do, which is not move my dang arm at all...

My PT was not, alas, a swimmer, and her understanding of why I hurt where I do was limited. She said I had to ignore the elbow/biceps pain or I wouldn't build strength. So I have.

I am going to go to a really good swim massage person for input from someone who knows swimmers and swimmers' muscles, because I don't want to injure stuff further.

I was just curious about others' recovery from labrum surgery--what it was like when you began swimming again, how soon you were able to swim without much or any pain, how much you swam, etc. I am feeling a little lost re what I should be aiming for.

Any input would be most appreciated.

January 13th, 2011, 08:18 AM
I didn't have surgery, but I did have a bad shoulder injury last summer. I couldn't move my arm for over a month.
What I had to do was slowly introduce arm stroke. First by riding over the arm, using rotation and my kick to bring the arm down.
I did a lot of breast because I could scoop long before I had full motion.
Right now, I am working on pull. My arm gets tired and I have muscle pain. When I get pain, I kick a few and try again.
Keep working. It will get better.

January 14th, 2011, 11:59 AM
UPDATE: Went to swim massage therapist yesterday; he is magic. He explained pain scale to me (if I am at initial "3" when I start to swim, then if I reach "6" while swimming, it's time to stop). He showed me how to massage pectoralis minor and strengthening exercises for wrist that should help with elbow pain.

He reassured me that if I LISTEN TO MY BODY and don't go above "6" that I should be OK swimming. He also agreed that doctors like to give cortisone shots and they are becoming controversial due to their tendency to rupture/weaken tendons, and the fact that they are for inflammation, and usually the pain swimmers feel is from frayed tendons due to overuse, rather than general inflammation.

Anyway, he only worked on my left arm and shoulder, I left feeling I had taken heroin (haven't ever, but how I imagine I would feel), and feel much encouraged.

He's in the Boston area, so if anyone wants his name, feel free to PM me.

Am feeling like happier camper, though, despite swim stuff in swim bag, am not en route to pool au present, perhaps because it looks so cold outside. Maybe later....