Old shoulder dislocation + new strength training = ?
February 22, 2013 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Now that I'm lifting heavier weights, how should I tailor my strength training regimen given that I have a four year-old shoulder dislocation?

I dislocated my shoulder four years ago by falling on a straight arm. It popped back in after 30 seconds, and I went to physical therapy, followed it (mostly) and regained nearly full mobility in a year, and now have full mobility back. Never had a recurrence (knock on wood!).

In the last six months I started a serious strength training regimen, and I'm getting to a point where I'm lifting significant weight (at least for me, a 5'7" 130 lb woman). I have two questions:

1. How do I avoid a re-dislocation during workouts? I've read about a lot of people having a dislocation during a shoulder or military press; should I avoid adding more weight to those workouts? Obviously I don't want to work up one area while neglecting another.

2. Are there specific exercises to build up my shoulder to prevent a dislocation?
posted by MaddyRex to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
When I dislocated my shoulder, my doctor told me that I should start swimming laps, specifically breaststroke, as a way to strengthen the muscles that help hold the shoulder joint in place. I've been swimming for the last three years now pretty regularly, and my shoulder has been a lot steadier than it was the first two years when I didn't swim at all and just did physical therapy.
posted by colfax at 5:58 AM on February 22, 2013

Work with your physical therapist to determine the right course. The shoulder is a really complex and fragile area, and excessive strain could cause permanent damage. It's at least worth a phone call. Each situation is fairly unique.
posted by 0110 at 6:01 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you been doing prehab strengthening work? You need a LOT of prehab strengthening work. Turkish get-ups are a good place to start, though depending on your weakness you may want to start with them empty-handed. You also want to do IYTWs. Looking up "shoulder stability exercises" on Google will give a lot of results, but the get-ups and IYTWs are a must.
posted by schroedinger at 6:08 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Swimming is definitely a great form of low impact exercise.

Do you work with a physical therapist who specializes in recuperation from injuries/surgery? That would be the best type of person to work with regarding exercises. I would caution against speaking to a doctor, as doctors are not exercise specialists or physiologists, and so are not really equipped to tell you how to avoid injury or strengthen a previously injured part of your body.
posted by dfriedman at 6:17 AM on February 22, 2013

I would recommend seeing an orthopaedic shoulder specialist to see if you have any instability. I can't disagree with your assessment of a dislocation four years ago but I have never heard of a true shoulder dislocation spontaneously reducing by itself- unless you have generalized laxity. Could have been a subluxation (partial dislocation) or a torn labrum. Only way to know for sure would be to see a doctor.
posted by karlos at 6:28 AM on February 22, 2013

I've had shoulder injuries and I lift, though I've never had a dislocation. My knowledge in both areas is limited.

I second physical therapy to ensure you're really ready to start pushing things, as well as YWTLs (related to/same as IYTWs) and Turkish get-ups. My pre-hab/re-hab includes those two exercises plus Cuban presses, band pull-aparts, and a very thorough warm-up before lifting, which includes several sets of arm rotations forward and backward. I try to keep things balanced between pulling motions (rows, pull-ups, chin-ups) and pushing motions (dips, push-ups, bench and overhead press) in each direction. I sometimes find MobilityWOD material (Kelly Starrett) to be helpful.

It would be a good idea to get a form check on shoulder lifts (pull-ups, overhead and bench presses) to make sure you're retracting your scapulae correctly, have sufficient mobility, and so on.
posted by daveliepmann at 7:18 AM on February 22, 2013

I work with a trainer to avoid further damaging my torn rotator cuff while weight training. You might ask at your gym for someone who is specifically up on working with injuries. Certainly your PT would be a great place to start.
posted by leslies at 10:12 AM on February 22, 2013

« Older We Need to Talk About Kevin   |   Advice for a (probably) pinched nerve? Good... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.