View Full Version : Post surgical shoulder rehab advice

May 21st, 2002, 10:53 PM
I am just returning to Master's swimming after an on and off 15 year layoff, partly due to bad shoulders. I just had my left shoulder "totally reconstructed", as the surgeon put it, for the second time this last October. This included a Bankart repair with anchors, a rotator rip repair, tightening of the capsule and multiple rips and tears sewn up. According to the surgeon, now that I'm 6mos past surgery and have full range of motion, I can do "anything".
Right now I'm swimming about 1,000 yds, or whatever I can do in 45 minutes 3-4 a week. I'm increasing 10 minutes a week. I'm also doing a few band exercises for strength, running/walking about 3 miles every other day, since I can't move fast enough in the water to get an aerobic workout yet.
My orthopedic surgeon has left me on my own to rehab as far as figuring out how to get strong enough to swim again. My coach isn't experienced in shoulder injuries of this magnitude. I am hopeless, pain is no guide as I was swimming 3,500 yds the week before I went in for the last surgery in October (hey, I'm a butterflier- we're immune to pain!).
If anyone has gone through even part of this, and has shoulder strengthening ideas, please, please help me. Right now I'm at a loss as to what sorts of exercises I should be doing- I've "out grown" those the physical therapist has given me.
Any workout advice (except fins- can't do those, they eat up my feet) as to what and how much to do, machines at the gym, free weights...I'd be eternally grateful. My goal is to get back to butterfly again, the surgeon doesn't think that's unreasonable, he just doesn't know how to get me there!

May 22nd, 2002, 12:18 AM
You might want to contact the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic (they do ALOT of shoulders) and see if you can get some information there. They might have a Physical Therapy department that is more used to dealing with athletes (they do do baseball players) and could give you some hand-outs of suggestions.
One personal suggestion--you might want to give up the butterfly stroke. Having been through a total of 6 shoulder surgeries (4 on just the left side) the LAST stroke any of my surgeons and/or doctors wanted me to do was butterfly. I too had a stretched out shoulder (I never did do butterfly) and it was "shrunk to fit" with a thermal assisted capsular shift about 4 years ago. The danger is STILL in stretching out the surgical repair if you go at it too hard. While you are 6-months into recovery--I think you're going to find with the amount of surgery done in one session on your shoulder---6 months is a bit early to be making a full comeback. Take it easy and just give it some time. BUT by all means--keep up with the exercises!!!!! I'm back in PT after falling and perhaps tearing some of the rotator cuff--the exercises are boring but you now have to make a life-long "habit" of doing them.