/ Coming back after rotator cuff surgery-

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Richard Popp - on 10 Aug 2017
Hi, did my shoulder a couple of months ago, annoyingly messing around rather than whilst trying or training, a message in there I suppose. Anyway progressed through the NHS once it was clear that physio was not really going to help and saw the surgeon today, he has kindly put me on his urgent caseload.

I am aware of wads and professionals coming back stronger but was wondering whether any more mortal personages could give me some reassuring stories about how they have recovered and climbed harder than ever?

I am 55 and was hoping (and training) to continue to improve until I hit 60.


Dandan82 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:

Hi Rich, long story short- I had surgery on my labrum and I've never had an issue with it since, I'm climbing harder than ever 4 years later.
Just make sure you do those rehab exercises!
Richard Popp - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Dandan82:

Cheers Dan, think prognosis is good but devil is in the details, Rich
Goucho on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:

I had rotator cuff surgery a few weeks ago.

Too early to tell what the long term prognosis will be - at my age, I'm not expecting it to be the same as if I was 30 - but if I can get back to 85 - 90% of my form before, I'll consider that a result, and anything more a bonus.
tasp05 - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:

I've severely injured my rotator cuff twice, luckily not requiring surgery (yet). Each time I've managed to get back to and past previous strength.

Full recovery is possible. But it takes time! Don't get frustrated at slow progress, and carefully follow your doctor's AND physio's advice. Build up slowly and you'll get there!
johnbrown on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to tasp05:
Recovery from RC surgery is a hard road! The only way is to work on the prescribed physio exercises assiduously and not to be discouraged by seemingly slow progress. My shoulder recovered fully with no remaining problems and am able to climb without any restriction apart from advancing age. I am now nearly 80; I had the op 3 years ago and can still climb 6a/6a+ indoors. So go for it, work hard and you'll get there! JOHN BROWN
Richard Popp - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to johnbrown: cheers John, and evryonelse, seriously impressed, I would be chuffed to make to 80. And still be getting out.

HoffiDringo - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:


I had surgery in January. I didn't have rotator cuff, more a bone graft onto the front of the socket after slowly wearing it down with recurrent dislocations.
I've only just started climbing again, but so far so good, no problems yet.

Whilst I can't speak for the recovery too much as it's early days. I will say that it's worth getting surgery sooner rather than later. The worse the shoulder gets, the narrower your options become, it may eventually lead to a bigger operation with a longer recovery ( as i found out the hard way).

Fakey Rocks - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:
Hi Rich + all,

How did you progress through the nhs to surgery in only 2 months? = see nhs docs >referal to nhs physio waiting list (6 wks?) > see nhs physio + follow programme for at least 2 months normally?
What physio did you do, + how often, etc?

Did you get an MRI, nhs or private, if so which + when, in the time line? . Did the MRI suggest surgery needed, because the tear was obvious/ what kind of surgery? (presume that went private?)

I'm 49. Got back into climbing last May, after very long break (25yrs). Then had to pack in after 6 months with left shoulder issues. Rested for 4 months b4 seeing an nhs doc to get nhs physio appointment, which came 2 months later in Bristol.
Shoulder impingement syndrome + labrum ligament tears ruled out, but Rotator Cuff issues suggested as the problem. A private physio thought the same. (perhaps that could still include cuff tears? Not yet identified)
Nhs physio prescribed Theraband exercises, private physio the same, with some variation, + progression of I's Y's T's + tennis ball massages.
Both said climbing again in a couple of months from then could b ok, plus try any other lightish gym / exercise stuff that doesn't aggravate it, later, light press up variations (on wall / on knees) + light shoulder press's. Nhs said i wouldn't get an MRI scan for a while but might later if the exercises didn't fix me.
I was also told that i have loads of tightness in my shoulders + back, + muscle knots there. I do a lot of driving + also ride a motorbike which probably adds to those muscles being tight.

I did all the physio stuff fairly regularly, 3 to 5 times a week for 2 months, but it was hard to get it all in, + sometimes more Theraband than IYT, + vice versa. Didn't feel like much had changed, left shoulder still feeling tweaky, achey, prickly, sore, stressy, etc, different feelings from one week to next.
Dropped the IYT as possibly more aggravating. (Might try re-intoduce it, see how it goes, good for shoulder stability.)
So after 2 months of physio stuff, started climbing, outdoorsy, easyish stuff. Have built up to highish 6's sport.
Not much changed, it was still feeling weakened, only slightly better some days. Climbing 2 or 3 times a week.
Went back to nhs physio, said to increase frequency of theraband sets to almost daily, (perhaps 1 rest day each week), + i can only get an MRI scan ( which might not help...apparently hard to spot the problems + figure stuff out from) when i've stuck to that (daily) for 4 to 8 wks + seen no improvement.
The increased frequency has definitely helped, but there's still an achey feeling, sometimes it feels better, sometimes worse. Also doing 100 press ups a week, just in sets of 10/15/20, 50 1 day 50 another, + 60 12kg dumbell shoulder presses a week, ( normally i find 10x15kg hard for me) 30 one day, 30 another, often same day as push ups.

What concerns me as well, is that even though i'm doing all the physio stuff, my right shoulder, is also occasionally now feeling like something is tweaking it in an injurous way, so these exercises help, but you will still be vulnerable to some shoulder injuries as a climber . I suppose that's obvious.

2 weeks ago the left was feeling worse, + i wanted to find out what to do next, but the last week i've been on a steepish 7a+ that i think i can do, and almost done a steepish 7a yesterday, + my shoulders just feels a bit achey, but in some ways feels no worse, + some prickly stingy tweakiness is even less, or cleared.

Perhaps it is slowly starting to be ok, we'll see. I still haven't stuck with daily therabands sets, work day is sometimes too long to feel upto it, but tbf, the full set both arms internal / extetnal/ abduction/ prone type rotation only takes 15mins, + the external rotations alone 5mins, which are the ones that seem to matter most for me, so will try make it fit again.
If it continues to be weak / no more improvement, + i can fit in climbing to the onset of autumn, then look at surgery / lay off over winter, that would be ideal.

I wonder if i might have some bone spurrs that could do with a shave... Scans show these?

But i doubt i can afford private (yet)
It would be fab if i could afford sports massage to my shoulders + back weekly too!

( Worth pointing out... Would like to be able to do some hang boarding, bought one, + pull up training, but steering clear so far, to avoid unnecessary shoulder stresses, climbing has been my main / only training.
Finger strength not yet an issue, main problem is getting pumped too soon.)
Post edited at 13:32
Si dH - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Rock to Fakey:
Be careful with press ups, they were a big aggravating factor in my rotator cuff injury. In fact, 19-20 months after the original onset of pain, I've now been climbing at full strength again for over a year, but I still can't do more than 10 pressups without the familiar pain returning.
Basically this is because they overtrain and tighten some of the same muscles in your chest and back that climbing does. Other exercises are much better.

Beat of luck Rich!
Post edited at 16:37
Fakey Rocks - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Si dH:

Which other exercises do you find to be better, for shoulder stability antagonistic exercises ?
Si dH - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Rock to Fakey:
I find reverse flies and IYWs on the TRX to be good, as per the recent lattice training video from a month or two back. However while I was still actually in pain I focused just on theraband and very lightweight rotator cuff strengthening exercises with a 2kg dumbbell - it was more important to build up the smaller supporting muscles rather than the antagonist ones. Things like lower traps, although everyone's problem is subtly different. This is what all the usual theraband exercises are for (usually recommended along with stretches to target the muscles that get big but tight, often pectorals.)
Post edited at 17:26
BigLob - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:

Hi Rich, I'm 53 and had a rotator cuff repair, bicep tendon cut and reattached and the end of my collar bone trimmed off at the end of March. I had heard all sorts of stories about long recovery periods. From my experience, the NHS physio will give you the basics to get you mobile again but I went to see a private physio who was much more hands on and receptive to what I wanted to achieve. I was back at the wall after 4 months, albeit climbing within my limits and only doing routes that didn't stress where I could still feel some discomfort, mainly not mantleshelfing or weight bearing by pushing down. I'm managing 5s and 5+ and the occasional 6a. Ive been outside a couple of times as well but rock as you know is a totally different thing but ive managed 4-5 routes on top rope up to 4c. I'm hoping that I will progress as long as I'm careful and be back to full fitness in another 2-3 months.
I think the thing is, it will be different for everyone. Do the exercises you are given. Its a pain in the backside but you need to do the work to get the benefits. And see a private physio if you can afford one. Even one session could give you enough advice to help in your recovery. Good luck!
PaulW - on 15 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:

Aged 62, rotator cuff surgery 18 months ago. 2 months of nothing at all and 4 months of gentle exercises. Ended up with a frozen shoulder which delayed regaining mobility. Rehab and exercises are key, do them through the pain.

Now left with slight impingement of mobility, nothing to impact on ordinary life and only a minor issue when climbing. In fact climbing helped the stretching of the joint, I was just super careful not to do anything that would shock load the shoulder if I fell.

I did pay for private physio though.

Richard Popp - on 16 Aug 2017
In reply to Richard Popp:
Thanks for all the replies, encouraging stuff.

I had a phone call yesterday and operation scheduled for 5th September, exactly four calendar months from the injury. One of the reasons for the speed Fakey is the nature of the pain and the appearance of a small 'hole' in my muscle (infraspinatus) aprox two-four weeks after the initial injury. I am obviously very pleased with this, as well as a bit surprised.

I had previously really knackered the same shoulder by not warming up on a very cold day at Cheddar whist climbing at my limit-yes another avoidable injury. This i sorted with input from chiropractor and the light weights Simon describes-shoulder press, straight arm raise, row and inverted row. I did get private scan to make sure no tears. These I did every day without fail, very low levels of weight, 1kg for rows probably. At the same time I was doing the theraband stuff plus stretches from Dave Mclouds book twice a day without fail. My February I was training and at the time of this accident was probably physically stronger than I ever have been, which is a double piss off.

So get the op and get into the rhythm of the rehab and with a bit of luck by this time next year....will be game on once more-just in time for a lovely autumn season in the south west. Happy days.

Post edited at 10:47

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