Friday, May 11, 2012

Shouldering the Load

In January, I was diagnosed with an inflamed tendon in my shoulder. Nothing major, it just hurt when I moved it in certain directions. At the beginning, it hurt all the time – when I answered the phone, typed, read, slept, breathed… That was a problem. But the doctor said it was fine – no tears, nothing major – I just needed to do some exercises and avoid lifting anything heavy. At the gym he suggested concentrating on reps and not weight.

I found this frustrating, but I managed it. The trainer I saw at the time (I do one upper and one lower body program with a trainer every month) was very cautious. He gave me rotator cuff strengthening exercises, but anything that caused so much as a pang of discomfort in my shoulder was off limits. I know it’s how things needed to be, but I wasn’t a fan of my new workouts. I went to the gym less and I found excuses easier.
But recently my shoulder has started to feel a lot better. I’ve been going to the gym regularly and have taken on increasingly more difficult programs. It’s still important that I avoid re-injuring my shoulder and the reality is that it will always have issues, but working out harder seems to be helping me feel better. I’m strengthening my shoulder and I think that’s really going to help avoid re-injury in the long run. My current trainers think that my slower-paced program probably did help me in the long run – it gave my body time to rest and heal - but now I’m ready to go. I just need to make sure I’m  more aware of what my body is telling me.

Listening to my body isn’t always easy. When I originally injured my shoulder (and to be honest, I’m not even sure how that injury occurred), I knew I was hurting during my workouts. I would hop on the gravitron and pain would shoot through my shoulder. But I didn’t want to miss a workout. By not listening to what my body was telling me (‘hello, that’ hurts – stop it’), I probably made things worse and my recovery a longer one. Now I’m not afraid to speak up when the trainer gives me something new and it aggravates my shoulder. I know that I need to share that information with them so that they can create a plan that will help me get better.

And even though I'm bored to tears doing rotator cuff exercises with little or no weight every time I’m at the gym, I understand that I’m doing what I need to do. I miss my toned arms and baby guns and I know that if I want to get them back, I need to take the slow and steady approach. It’ll happen.

Have you ever had to recover from an injury? How did it affect your workouts?

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