my 9/13/2010 surgery

My upcoming shoulder surgery is not related to weight lifting. I feel this is important to point out because one point I repeat time and time again is that good form is essential for preventing injury. It would look mighty stupid if I got an injury from lifting weights! I have lifted 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year since 1983 without a single weight lifting injury or accident. A very common injury from using bad form at the gym is a torn rotator cuff – I do NOT have that. People screw up their rotator cuff all the time from:

  • letting their elbows go behind the plane of their back (bench, mil prs, lat pulldowns, etc)
  • using too much weight on shoulder exercises (these are really small muscles)
  • using ballistic pushes at the bottom of the range of motion
  • doing reps too fast
  • bouncing
  • jerking
Again, I do not have a rotator cuff injury, you dont want one either. A full rotator cuff tear will not heal by itself and requires surgery (expensive) and 6 months of rehab before you get your life back. Lift carefully, do not destroy your shoulder with bad form!
What I have is chronic shoulder tendonitis caused by impingement. I have two bone spurs (bumps on my bones) that poke into the shoulder joint at inconvenient locations narrowing the space where the tendons are supposed to be. Every time I move my shoulder, the tendons have to squish by those bumps and each crunch/brush causes the tendon to get more inflamed. Not only does the inflammation cause pain but it causes swelling that makes it even harder (and more painful) for the tendons to slide around. What the surgery involves is grinding off those bone spurs which I am told is not as painful as it sounds. The recovery should be significantly faster than for a rotator cuff tear but will still keep me away from heavy weights at least for 3 months. I will be a good patient and follow my surgeons recommendations to the tee, and even more important, I will listen to my physical therapist!
You can read more about injuries and how to prevent them if you want.

22 thoughts on “my 9/13/2010 surgery”

  1. hey scooby. do you think you would still be able to do arm workouts that dont involve your shoulder, such as reverse curls? the weight is really light and the shoulder doesnt rotate doing them.

    i've never had a shoulder injury so i can't understand what the mobility in your arm is like. just a suggestion from me to you since you have given me so many good ones

  2. Good luck with the surgery Scooby. I had a hernia repair back in June and know exactly how frustrating the idea of a long rehab is. It's worth it in the end though to get it done so hang in there coz there's always something you can train.
    Whenever I have something like that I always think of that scene in The Untouchables when Sean Connery says to Eliot Ness something like "So your shoulder gets hit, you hit your legs harder, so your legs get hit, you go after your abs, so your abs get wasted, you hit your forearms with all you've got, that's the hardcore way, that's the way you keep in shape. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?"
    Works every time.

  3. Before going under the knife you should seriously talk to Eric Cressey, the renowned strength coach and former powerlifter. He's known as the "shoulder guy"; he works with a lot of professional baseball players (Kevin Youklis, Curt Schilling, and many many minor leaguers).

    I went to visit him in Boston for a 1 time consultation back in July because my shoulders were acting up (I've dislocated both). He designed a program based on a 3:1 pulling to pushing ratio. Long story short, I'm not in pain any more, I'm setting PR's on both weighted pull-ups and bench press, and my posture has improved.

    Scooby, I LOVE the fact that you preach good form, but a shoulder injury can be so much more complex than just using poor form. Too many of us end up with a kyphotic posture and internally rotated humeri from just sitting at a desk all day. When you go into the gym and just bench press and do pullups all you're doing is strengthening the internal rotators even more, leading to eventual impingement. Therefore, a balanced workout routine on paper may actually be doing you a whole lot of harm. Impingement syndrome can definitely be healed up without surgery. Cressey has helped many many people lift without pain. Yes I paid a lot of money for his "programming", but it was certainly cheaper than surgery and definitely worth not sitting around depressed because I can't workout my entire upper body. I came to a point where I realized: I just don't know enough about anatomy to intelligently design my own programs.

    Some of his best (free) articles are (Just google the names):
    1. Shoulder Savers (3 part series)
    2. Neanderthal No More (4 part series aimed at improving posture)
    3. Feel Better for 10 bucks (talks about Self-Myofascial Release aka foam rolling…this improves soft tissue quality)

    I also HIGHLY recommend:
    1.Push-ups, face-pulls, and shrugs by Mike Robertson

    check out

  4. Where did you get a diagnosis Scooby… have seen so many poeple (MD and all) to help me get relief from my 5 years old shoulder injury…. no succes. Even with 2 MRI…. I ready to fly the world to get answers.

  5. Scooby,

    What do you expect to happen to the muscle surrounding the surgery and will you be able to perform any exercise to compensate for the loss of true workouts?

  6. Hi Scooby. First of all I would like to say that I like your videos and your are no.1 on youtube concerning bodybuilding. Another thing, how exactly old you were when you started bodybuilding? 21 or 22? I am now 20 and six months old, but I have always been afraid of starting lifting weights because of my joint issues[they crack – spine, wrists, knees, elbows, neck, hip – on every sudden move]. Have you ever had any problem like this? If you did, how did you get over it 'cause it's killing me mentally and physically. I hope you'll be back on top as soon as possible! Please answer my questions! And cheers from Romania!

  7. In Britain Scooby you can watch them do that operation on a monitor placed in front of you while you are under your regional (not full) anaesthetic.

    Apparently the grinding away of those bone spurs is like the dentist's drill, but without the smell…

    Nice! :-)

  8. I feel for ya scoob. I had two bouts of rotator cuff problems years back (due to bad technique – behind the neck press and chins behind the neck). I have rectified those mistakes and have remained injury-free ever since. It's so frustrating when you can't train. I have been out for a month due to a bad chest infection and I have lost inches all over the place. And at 6'4" I'm starting to feel like big stick insect. Anyway just had to get that off my chest with people who can appreciate these kind of dilemmas. Anyway mate, good luck with the surgery and your recovery.

  9. Goodluck Scooby from Thomas Canada hope to hear from you once your done and keep up the good work
    Thanks. How long do u think your surgery will last in terms of actual hours

  10. So, a question about surgery. If they have to cut through muscle, will that muscle ever be able to heal fully or will there always be muscle loss at that point?

    I've tried researching this on the internet and have yet to find an answer.

  11. Good luck with your surgery Scooby, you do great informative videos its cool you have this blog now as well keep up the great work and have a good recovery following surgery =)

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