How I have been training around my shoulder injury | The Cloudfoot Diaries #81

Training around my shoulder injury

Last episode I harped on about the importance of embodying the principles of adaptation and awareness. So what kind of training have I been doing around my shoulder injury?

Week 1 of Injury – Just surviving and resting where possible. Survival was a workout, in and of itself and it’s not too sensible to start training when you’re in serious pain.
I had tickets to a thrash metal concert just 3 days post-injury and it was terrifying for the first 30 minutes. People everywhere, none of them giving a fuck who they bumped in to. An admirable quality if you’re in full health and ready to headbang but it was a real lesson in intra-personal navigation and space occupancy for me! I did well. Only one person gripped my injured shoulder as to gesture ‘Let me by,’ and he pretty much dropped me to floor. Closely followed by a half-pissed apology when he caught a glimpse of my sling under the flash of a spotlight.

Learning how to use the legs to change my level was important. Man, I’m so grateful I have been putting in time learning how to squat. For example, I had to adapt various sexy lunge and squat patterns in order to get in and out of my car, without aggrovating my shoulder. This would not have been a favourable time to discover my legs were weak as piss. Fortunately, they’re quite strong.

Week 2 of Injury – Strength and Conditioning on Legs, Hips, Upper Body Left Side and exploration of what’s possible in the Yoga and Inversion worlds.

Keeping the mantra “I will seize this opportunity!” in mind, this was the perfect time to continue training my leg strength, however possible. I have worked hard to come back from my knee injuries so I was reluctant to slack off and let those gains fade away.
Posterior chain work and some isolated leg extension were within my zone of pain tolerance / comfort. Single Leg RDLs were fine as long as I made an effort to pin my right elbow into my ribs to prevent gravity from taking it for a ride.
Then for the upper body, contralateral work is pretty much the name of the game. The theory being two fold; the left side is the only side I can actually train right now, and there might even be some carry over to the injured side from training the healthy side. Single Arm Shoulder Press with a Dumbbell, some elbow flexion work in the form of the good ol’ bicep curl, and some single arm hanging for grip work, all felt great.

As an added bonus, the endorphin buzz from completing a workout was a great pain-relief and mental stimulator.

Week 3 of Injury
– Beginning of shoulder rehab plus S&C for the rest of the body. The shoulder rehab theory at this stage was basic; mobilise the rest of the body, especially thoracic spine, so that when the right shoulder returns it is not prevented from moving by a jacked up, immobile T-spine. To mobilise the T-spine, extension and flexion, along with rotation. Simple but difficult when performed strictly.
Continuing the same train of thought; stretching out the lats and obliques, and then some pendulum work to get some movement into the right arm without aggrovating it.

To me it seems logical to train around the injured area. I want my body to be triggered into a state of protein synthesis and tissue regeneration, not only to repair the damage I’ll inevitably do in training but to also assist in healing my injury. Sitting on my ass, dormant and complaining would have been one of the worst things to have done.

For the most part, I have been utilising Strength and Hypertrophy set and rep ranges. My left side on the upper body has always been weaker, so I have been strengthening it up and building some muscle there, too. My right bicep is now officially smaller than my left, possibly for the first time ever. My right deltoid and bicep have definitely atrophied but I have made a point to keep the grip stimulated on the right hand by using a barbell collar as a gripper in my rest periods.

I find ‘Bodybuilding’-type training to be a bit of a novelty, so I was strategic in choosing more hypertophy rep-ranges for cerebral entertainment as much as corporal. When depression is a big threat during periods of injury, I like to set myself up for success by implementing training methods that are as much fun as they are contributing towards my body’s recovery, in order to keep negative thoughts and feelings at bay as much as possible.

Getting an accurate and correct diagnosis is a really powerful and important stage towards taming your brain during a time of injury. Knowing exactly what is wrong and what damage has occurred due to being injured sets you up for creating a pathway for returning back to health.
As soon as I get a diagnosis when I’m injured, I research the shit out of the condition. I need to see imagery; detailed anatomical graphics, usually, that show me exactly where the problem lies and what it looks like.
This allows me to then associate what I’m feeling (body awareness) with what I’m seeing.

The next stage is simple. Now that I know what my injury looks like, picturing the opposite should produce an image of full health.
In this instance, I sought out imagery of a separated AC joint, and then produced a mental image of a fully healthy AC joint.
I know from my Physio that I need a certain amount of scar tissue to hold my AC joint back together. Therefore, I’ve been spending every spare unit of brain power that I have on visualising fibres knitting themselves back together into a lattice that is gradually pulling my AC joint back to where it should be. Whenever I have a gap in my thoughts, I’m picturing this healing process taking place in the exact location it should be.

That’s how simple using visualisation can be to assist in the healing process. Just picture your body working to rebuild the injured area into a picture of health.

5 weeks left before I should be fully healed. I’m looking forward to getting back on the mats for week 4 as I start to drill basic grappling movements again. Or at least that’s the plan.

Thanks goes out to Momentum Physio for assisting me with my injury and providing rehab exercises.

Follow Harry


Harry Cloudfoot is a writer and explorer of movement and mind. You can check his social media if you want but you'd be better off going and doing something, instead.
Follow Harry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *