Recently, I had rotator cuff surgery. It has been just over two months. The recovery is going well, but it will still be months before my shoulder is completely back to near normal. Lengthy recoveries can be challenging and I wrote a few tips that helped me get through to this point of my recovery. I was lucky that I had some time to prep for my surgery. For some of you, you may have a sudden injury and no time to prep. That’s OK, much of this can still apply.
Of course, what works for you may be completely different. And this isn’t medical advice. That is best left for your doctor!
Sure, you know you need to have a positive attitude so I could just leave this out. But sometimes it is important to state the obvious. It is also good to recognize that you won’t always have a positive attitude. You may get frustrated, disappointed, even angry. That’s OK — just have a plan on how you will deal with it. For me, I had daily reminders set to keep me focused on my goal. I also planned with friends that I could reach out to when I felt like my recovery wasn’t going well. But I also just let myself have some “bad days.” Some days it was OK just to feel frustrated and know that tomorrow would be better.
Nutrition is always important in your health and well being, but when you are injured you should give extra attention to what you eat. The first couple of days, I let myself have about anything that sounded good since I really didn’t have an appetite while on the painkillers.
After that, i got right back to trying to eat clean. It helped me feel better and I knew I was supplying my body with healthy nutrients essential for recovery. Of course, you can prepare for this by making sure your pantry is stocked with healthy foods at all times.
I believe it is important to keep up your routines. I was instructed not to do anything in the gym but ride a stationary bike — and even that was to be done lightly. Early on, I decided to keep up my routine. I still got up early, put on gym clothes, and went to the gym. It felt silly to go hop on the stationary bike at 5:30 in the morning when others were lifting heavy weights and sprinting through cardio workouts. But, keeping up the routine was helpful in a couple of ways.
First, if I got out of this routine, when I was cleared to finally get back to the gym it would be even more difficult if I had gotten into the habit of sleeping in. By keeping my routine, it meant that I didn’t have to get used to the early hours again when I started working out again.
Second, it was good for my emotional state to see friends and have encouragement when I was recovering. They wanted to know how I was doing and when I would be “back to normal.” The noises, sights, and overall atmosphere just seemed to be uplifting.
Finally, it gave me a different perspective on working out. When you are trying to practice Olympic lifts or other movements, it is very eye opening to be forced to watch week after week. I was watching and learning by seeing other people do it right — and wrong. For example, watching my friends do squats, I could better understand what it looked like when they let their back curve slightly at the bottom of the squat.
Before I went in for surgery, I met with one of the coaches at the gym to prepare. We discussed what I could do during my recovery. We figured out options that worked for me at different phases of recovery and updated those options as we learned more.
Beyond the gym, I found alternatives as well. For example, squeezing shower gel with one hand into the other hand was not going to be possible. So, before surgery, I bought shower gel that had a pump. A trip to the grocery store was doable, but was going to be a pain with one arm in a sling. This was a perfect time to try grocery delivery.
As with moth challenges in life, it pays to have a good support system. This includes everyone around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In my first days of recovery, my fiancee was there to assist me. Once she returned to work, I put a call out to friends for stuff as simple as picking me up for lunch. It was good to get out and catch up with friends.
I was also very lucky because my work let me telecommute. The first week and a half, that is all I did. After that, they gave me the option to still telecommute on days I had PT or other issues. Check and see if your work will allow any flexibility.
You will get through the recovery. Just keep a positive attitude and do whatever you think will make it better for you. Afterwards, you will hopefully have many years of an active wonderful life!