View Full Version : Shoulder injury WOD ideas

Edward Conover
05-03-2005, 01:07 PM
Two weeks ago I had shoulder surgery on my right shoulder. The rotator cuff was torn through to the bone and was sutured. There was a good deal of torn cartilage and the doctor ground away some bone spurs.

Due to the rotator cuff repair and the slow rate of healing for tendons my right arm is out of the commission for a while. In light of Coach’s article in the last journal I have set two goals: an honest go goodness “pistol”, and a 17 Tabata air squat. Beyond that I had some questions:

- Would there be a downside to doing asymmetrical full body exercises: e.g.: one-armed KBS, one-armed pull-ups (on a Gravitron), one-armed cleans/presses/snatches/deads?
- Though not a functional exercise, would it be worthwhile to integrate leg presses either for SRM or in a circuit?
- Any other exercise or goal ideas would be appreciated.


Ed Conover

Ryan Atkins
05-04-2005, 08:44 AM
Hi Edward,

Welcome to CrossFit!

IMO, there are more benefits than disadvantages to doing the one-arm versions of the exercises you mentioned. The incorporation of as many muscle groups as possible for certain exercises, given your situation, will serve to increase the training benefit (i.e. NER, reduction of atrophy in the injured area, etc.) as opposed to taking the good limb out of the exercise equation.

I tried playing around with the leg press during my ACL rehab (on my good leg, heavy weight). Personally, I didn't care for it. After being exposed to a year of CrossFit exercises, I just didn't feel I was benefitting from the movement. When I used it in a circuit, it didn't tax me from a metabolic standpoint the same way other functional movements did - sure, the muscles were working, but it seemed like more of a rest when compared to the other movements.

The exercises you've listed so far are great! Some other options might include (obviously one-armed versions, where applicable):

Overhead lunge walking/pig on skates
Waiter's walk
Farmer's walk
Wall-ball (not the 20# dynamax, but a smaller, 10# med ball might work - probably be a good challenge for coordination, balance, etc.)
3 limb aerodyning (getting a rythm going is a little tough)
Tabata box jumps

The last three may not be an option immediately after surgery (I've been told that even a jarring action can negatively affect the shoulder at that point).

Please keep us posted on your progress, Ed. Good luck to a quick recovery.


Cheryl Cohen
05-05-2005, 05:14 PM
Hi Edward!

I'm a new member and came across your posting regarding your shoulder surgery. I'm scheduled to have one of my own at the end of May....but won't know the severity of the damage until I wake up. ;-) There may be some rotator cuff damage, but if so, it will be slight.

I am very interested in your rehab process and would like to know what exercises work for you as you progress (if that's okay). I would be happy to share info as well. I've already purchased a trainer for my roadbike......I can't actually be expected to sit still.

Anyway, I also like the idea of working on balance/stability exercises during recovery. One-legged stuff, not necessarily with a lot of weight. Even using a 45lb plate on top of an aero-disc makes a great wobble board. And of course core core core! A decline bench with a medicine ball in the good hand is awesome.

Thoughts? (And good luck!)


Edward Conover
05-05-2005, 11:17 PM
Ryan and Cheryl,

Thanks much for the advice.


I'll be happy to keep you posted. It wasn't till I woke that the full extent of the dammage was known. The pre-opp expectation and post-opp reality were quite diferent. Going in the doctor thought that there was only going to be some bone spurs to remove and a possible suture on a 6mm tear in the rotator cuff. Once inside he found torn cartiledge, a bicep tendon that was completely detatched, a 2-3cm tear thru the rotator cuff down to the bone, and the bone spurs.

Talking to my physical therapist today I've been cleared for running, farmers carry, one handed cleans/jerks/presses, rowing one handed, and one handed wall ball shots.

I'll keep you up to date.



Ryan Atkins
05-06-2005, 06:49 AM
Talking to my physical therapist today I've been cleared for running, farmers carry, one handed cleans/jerks/presses, rowing one handed, and one handed wall ball shots.

Ed, did he give any time restrictions for these exercises or are you cleared to do them right after surgery? I'm asking because one of my clients goes in for rotator cuff surgery next week Tuesday. She's going to ask for further clarification about allowable exercises, but the impression I'm getting so far from her doctor is that they're taking a far more (possibly over?) conservative view when it comes to activity for the first few weeks after surgery.

Cheryl - Welcome to CrossFit! Good points about the core. Your recovery period could be an excellent oppurtunity for you two to become specialists in glute-ham sit-ups and hip/back extenstions.

If you both could keep me updated about your progress/rehab I'd appreciate the info. Good luck.


Jeff Martin
05-06-2005, 08:32 AM
Ed and Cheryl,
I'm going to have My wife Mikki look at this thread. She had shoulder surgery last year. Became a little frustrated with her progress doing tradtional therapy. She started doing CrossFit and the shoulder came back strong. I think she is up to 12 pull ups and is doing HSPU's as well. We are a little busy this weekend so she will probably get to it Monday.

Cheryl Cohen
05-06-2005, 09:17 AM

What was your level of functioning prior to surgery? My doc seems to think that I have far too much strength to have a true rotator cuff tear. I'm really hoping that he's right. I know there's a bone spur to remove and I'm getting resection for 'distal clavicle osteolysis'. If that's it, then I'm told that I'll be back to full capacity in 3 mo. Add any rotator cuff....and it can double.

Jeff.....please do talk to your wife. I'd be really interested to find out what worked for her. Thanks!!! (p.s. HSPU's?)

Ryan....thanks for the support and ideas. Could you let me know what your client finds out as well? The more info the better.....


William Hunter
05-06-2005, 10:20 AM
HSPU=handstand pushups

Edward Conover
05-06-2005, 11:19 PM

I was able to do 24 pull ups, c&j 170lbs for single rep max, and Helen in 10:28 just prior to surgery (grade school numbers in the Crossfit world but Rock Star status where I work). The areas I had steadily increasing problems were in the presses: I went from 12 ring dips to zero and 140lb bench to zero over a several month period.

Both the surgon and the physical therapist feel very bullish that I will be back on track and surpasing those PRs within the year.


I spoke with the surgon today and he stated that I should wait until six weeks post-op before starting the exercises listed due to the tendon reatachment. The tendon is pined to the bone which is roughed up prior to attachment to help the tendon reatach itself. Due to the slow nature of this type of healing he stated that even doing the exercices asymetricly there is a good chance that an involuntary reaction and movement from the afected arm could tear the repair loose. His recomendation was a combination of interval sprints and longer timed rides on a statonary bike.

I am confused, frustrated and a bit scared. Probably, all things, being equal, I'll stick to what he says.


From what I've read about the rotator cuff repairs and rehab the limiting factor in attaining and then surpasing old PRs is almost entierly dependent on the patients willingness to work through the discomfort once the rotator cuff is healed.... if you're doing the WOD then you are well accostomed to discomfort :happy:

Not to be the bearer of bad news though: based on the MRI , physical examination, and the X-rays my doc thought that I might have a 6mm tear in the rotator cuff and he would just have to trim it. Once inside he found the detached tendon and a 2-3cm tear....

I'll keep you posted


Edward Conover
05-16-2005, 03:55 PM
Ok, all cleared by the doc... first post op workout today:
Affected arm in sling and strapped to body.

Three rounds for time:
20 one handed thrusters (25lbs)
400m one handed row (Concept2)


Good to be back


Ernest Ellender
05-31-2005, 02:08 PM
Glad to see things are going well for you, Edward. I had shoulder surgery 6 months ago. I had a 9mm tear in my left labrum that was repaired with laproscopic surgery. I did two weeks of sitting on my butt before getting into one-arm exercises.

I have been VERY pleased with my recovery rate since. I think it was optimized by being in such good shape before the surgery. After two months, I was feeling quite active. After three, I was really putting the muscle back on. About 96% flexibility was there by month four, and now, at 6 months, I barely feel the scar tissue and am able to do full CF WODs. Good luck!!

Brandon Thomas
06-12-2005, 12:53 PM
I had surgery in Feb. of 2004 on my right shoulder to repair a almost global (nearly completely off) tear in my labrum. This also included repairing a torn biceps tendon. The post-op pain and rehab time were a little more than I had expected. About a year after surgery I came across Crossfit.com and after doing the WOD for a while, I realized that my ROM and strength still needed a lot of work.

I had been doing most of my rehab with more tradtional exercises that were based on more of a bodybuilding mentality. Perhaps some of the same exercises that lead to my injury in the first place. Life after Crossfit has lead me in the direction of more functional movements and exercises. I have focused on handstands and handstand push ups, overhead squats, kettlebell swings, and farmers walks. So far I have been amazed with the results.