After recovering from knee surgery, I spent 2017 feeling like I was really working toward big progress in the gym. I felt strong. I felt like I looked strong. I felt like my lifts were increasing in weight, but also that I had good form and was doing well overall.
People were complimenting my form, my lifts, the way I looked–and (even though I shouldn’t) I felt a great deal of satisfaction. Not only because people noticed I was doing well, but because people noticed I was doing well after coming back from such a serious injury.
It meant a lot to me that I was seeing progress (and so were others) after I’d been set back by so much. And, I really felt comfortable in my own skin.
I was following a 3rd party program that was going through a lifting cycle. They had elite programming for Games-bound athletes, and then regular people programming, which was just an easier version of the elite.
Going from mostly Crossfit to the heavy lifting program felt really great, actually. My body responded really well. I could take the volume (in terms of lifting endurance and building muscle), and I felt really strong. My overall endurance suffered a little. I got a little slower, but it was at the cost of getting stronger, so I felt like it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
Until I tore my labrum…
As someone who’s sustained only leg injuries, my shoulders hurting was completely new to me. One of the coaches I’ve spoken to, whom I mentioned in my last post, said that you can tear your labrum doing anything–pull ups, burpees, snatches, clean & jerks, etc. So, I can’t really pinpoint an exact time when I *suddenly* knew my shoulder was injured.
For me, it seemed more like a gradual thing that kept getting worse the more I did.
One week, I was noticing a lot of pain in my shoulder when I caught the bar at the top of the clean. Something about that movement sent a shooting pain through the top of my arm. So, I went to the chiropractor and asked him to pay extra attention to that shoulder.
The next week, I was having the same problems and it felt like it was getting a little worse–not better–so I went to a friend’s dad who does ART (Active Release Technique) to help if it was a muscle issue. It felt like it was all in my muscles at the time–my traps and delts and lats. Everything just felt tight, like there were knots all in my neck and shoulders.
When things still felt painful after that, I dropped my training elements that were painful for me. I figured out that it wasn’t going away. So, no more cleans or jerks during this time. I switched them out for less painful movements like Russian KBS and ring rows for pull ups–and lots of back squats.
I still thought it was a muscle problem, though, and decided to make a massage appointment to have my sports massage therapist (whom I love) try to work out the knots and tightness in my shoulders and neck.
When that didn’t work, I made an appointment with my orthopedic doctor. She pretty much called it in the first few minutes, and we worked on some non-surgical options. She knew I didn’t want to go through another surgery and was willing to work to get things as close to normal as possible. She gave me a cortisone shot and a prescription for physical therapy.
When I broke my leg and when I tore my ACL two years later, it was a sort of instant injury. You hear and feel your bone snap, and you hear and feel your knee pop. While it’s hard to come to sudden terms with your injury (there’s a lot of emotion involved), you know for sure what you have to do. There’s no debating whether or not to get a cast or to have reconstruction surgery.
With this shoulder injury, there was no “moment” of injury. It sort of crept up on me and eventually got to the point where normal things don’t feel good (writing a journal at my desk, typing on my computer) and normal workouts don’t feel good either.
I think that (along with the mixed advice I’m getting from so many sources) is why deciding what to do next has been so difficult.
As the surgery date approaches, I’ll make sure to keep you updated (if anyone is actually still reading this, lol) and my thought processes. Maybe this will help someone else going through something similar.