Tag Archives: shoulder rehab

Shoulder Rehab – Work Conditioning

As some of my more loyal readers may know, I had rotator cuff repair surgery January 31. Shoulder rehab has been interesting, to say the least. I have tons of experience with rehabbing my knees but zero with shoulders.

The actual injury occurred November 23, and I had to do 6 weeks of regular physical therapy before I was able to convince the worker’s comp doctor to actually TAKE PICTURES of the injured areas. I was sent for an MRI on the shoulder after continued pain even after PT.


shoulder x ray

What a normal shoulder x-ray should look like

Guess what? Torn rotator cuff.Then it took from 12/31 until 1/31 to actually GET the surgery done. Memorial Day will be 6 months I have been off work – that is a very long time. I am eager to get back to work ASAP.

PT started me on “work conditioning” PT two weeks ago.What “work conditioning” means is basically working out HARD for 4 hours a day 3 days a week. I start with 15 minutes of cardio – either treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical or arm bike. Then I do about 45 minutes of stretching, followed by about 45 minutes of ab and core work. That is followed by the “target exercises” to rehab my shoulder and elbow.

physical therapy

Shoulder PT therapist doing passive range of motion exercises

Another 15 minute cardio session is next, and then I take a “calorie break” to eat an orange. Somewhat rejuvenated, I move into the workout of the day – today was legs, back and biceps, for instance. There are 3 options for the WotD. After the WotD is completed – and that usually takes 60-90 minutes, another 15 minutes of cardio.

Weight Lifting

Exercising and weight lifting

At last, I am hooked up to the e-Stim machine (heaven!), iced on the knee, shoulder and elbow and allowed to zone out for 10-15 minutes. Throughout the entire workout, I am maintaining my heart rate at least at 55% of maximum up to 85% of maximum – thoroughly in the fat burning and cardio zones, depending on the exercises. 3 to 3 1/2 hours at that rate is exhausting, to say the least.

The GOOD news is that my shoulder strength is improving fast, and I am burning 3+ hours worth of calories. I am also significantly increasing or regaining my endurance pretty rapidly.

The next doctor appointment is 5/8/2013. Hopefully I will have passed all three of the weight lifting tests required to return to work. I have already passed the 2-arm ones, and have to pass one more 1-arm test. If the doctor is happy, he can release me to work. If he thinks I need more PT, he can keep me out for however much more time.

It will be a close call. I anticipate being held out another 2 weeks for ongoing conditioning and PT, but being able to return with no limitations before Memorial Day. That is my goal, at least. I think I will be able to suck it up, do the lifts and whatever else is needed, and get off no-duty status. Then I get to be completely retrained at work, since so much has changed. That is something I will willingly do.