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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A weight lifter with seriously injured shoulders

Hi Garry
I saw Walking NZ magazine while waiting in physio waiting room and read your Cortisone injection article with a rapidly sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach!

I'm a 42 yr old female weightlifting athlete and have competed 6 times in 2007. I took up this sport after powerlifting for 4 years. I developed left shoulder pain and then right. Continued to weightlift and compete throughout. Things started to get really bad and I was diagnosed with supraspinatus impingement. I was injected with cortisone and carried on. The right shoulder started to play up and Xrays/arthrogram and MRI showed a 'Large full thickness tear through the superior half of subscapularis associated with up to 20mm of retraction. The tear has further intrasubstance extension into the musculotendinous junction over 3cm'. I had 2 cortisone injections within weeks of eachother as I had 2 major competitions to get through. No mention of the possibility of surgery to repair such a large tear.

Since my last contest in August, myshoulders have deteriorated to the point where I can no longer do ANY upper body lifting. I have been given exercises and stretches by the physio and just left to my own devices! I am in constant pain, ranging from a dull ache, throbbing, and stabbing type pains. I have now decided to see an orthopedic surgeon as I'm not responding to any treatments or rest and am unable to train!

Although I accept my weightlifting is over, I certainly wish to carry on weight training. This whole thing has been going on for over 12 months.

Your advice please. "S"


Gary Moller responds:

Dear S,
I am sorry to hear about your injuries. While they appear to be serious, take heart. The human body has a remarkable capacity to repair and to compensate for losses. While it is a shame that you have had these cortisone injections we can not turn the clock back, so let's look forward.

As a devoted disciple of Kung-Fu's Master Po, I do not believe in an after-life but I do believe in reincarnation. I am talking about reincarnation within one's lifetime. We live only once; we all are endowed multiple talents and it is our obligation to Life to express them as best we can. So, S, I think your body is telling you that you have lived your life as a weight-lifter. You did well. It is now time to reincarnate as another being. Take my sister Lorraine as an example: Once an Olympian - now a writer and, by all accounts, a very good one.

What are your talents that are lingering below the surface waiting to burst forth with fervent expression? What can you do with all of that physical and emotional energy that was previously directed into heaving the heaviest weights above your head? Are you a latent artist? A healer? A triathlete, or even a writer of great fiction or poetry? Who knows! You do.

I have competed in several different sports. I find I tend to go hard at one for about 4-6 years, do my best and then say; "That's enough of that!" Give up and switch to something else. That might have been running and the switch is to canoeing. Right now, it is mountain bike riding.

Reincarnation is healthy for mind and body. It breaks the rutted mindset many of us fall into. Think about it S. Your body is telling you it needs a change. Try an activity that does not hurt your shoulders anymore. Get out of the gym - you need a change of environment. It is a bit like an alcoholic getting away from the pub to put distance between themselves and temptation. It is that reincarnation idea at work. Got the idea S? Move on and live life over and over.

With regards to the shoulder pain, there are some things you might try to relieve the pain and dysfunction because chronic pain and dysfunction are not healthy:

  • Find an experienced sports massage therapist and get several massages on the neck, back and shoulders spread about every 4 days apart. If you are in Wellington, I can do this for you.
  • Take a mix of the following with food spread over the day for about three months to assist the body with making as full a recovery as possible (These are also natural anti-inflammatories that do no harm).
    • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) - take 2-6,000mg per day
    • Vitamin C (natural) - take 2,000 mg per day
    • You could add 1-3,000mg of natural vitamin E (These items are all available from my website store
  • Do weights for the arms and shoulders using only light weights and concentrating on re-establishing as near to full painless range of motion and good muscle tone (Take care not to add to the damage already done).
If you get back into heavy duty lifting, which I do not recommend, then find yourself a highly competent lifting coach. There are far too many injuries to lifters who take up competitive lifting as adults. Correct lifting is a highly skilled task that takes many years to master and best learned as a child. As an adult one's enthusiasm and strength can vastly exceed skill and there are few highly competent lighting coaches in NZ. The consequent combination is serious injuries to shoulders, backs and knees. If you are really serious about getting back into lifting, then start with a broomstick for 12 months and only begin loading up once your technique is biomechanically faultless.

Better still, pack your bags and go to Bulgaria for several years. They have the best lifting coaches on the planet!

Please keep us informed as to your progress. Wishing you good health S.

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