Stitch

3 Years of Shoulder Bursitis Healed with Strength Training

What is your story about?
In my mid-20s I injured my shoulder and developed shoulder bursitis. After 3 years and countless treatment approaches, I finally made progress by incorporating strength training and gradually increasing intensity. Ultimately, I was able to do movements like pushups and pullups without pain.
Can you describe your shoulder injury?
I was always very active, football as a kid (soccer if you like) then swimming, then water polo for 6 years. In my adult life I did mostly swimming or gym. My shoulders were fine when I was swimming/playing waterpolo, the waterpolo part was probably a mistake since I'm prone to have joint problems but at the time I didn't know that. At any rate, about 6 years ago, when I was 26/27, I had a shoulder injury. It hurt a lot and I only tried to treat it about a month after because the pain didn't completely go away, bad move. The injury, apparently was nothing special — just swelling of the bursa ...(more)
What treatment approaches did you try?
During all these years I tried so many different treatments and saw 5 different specialists. I spent so much money on treatments! t I tried electrostimulation, acupuncture, massage combined with heat and cold gels, anti-inflammatory medication, etc. I saw the top orthopedist in my area, some professionals specialized in recovery from sport injuries, one osteopath, did ultrasounds, got an MRI, tried pretty much everything people suggested. But all they managed to accomplish was to take the pain away while resting, not help me return to active training. Every time I touched a bit of weight (eve ...(more)
How did strength training as a treatment approach work for you?
In February of 2017, I slowly tried to use some dumbbells at the end of the cardio just to activate the muscles, like 2 kgs. Eventually I progressed a bit without pain and tried to do some machine exercises for chest and back, very light as well. After doing that for a month I asked one of the teachers for help and he planned a workout for me to try and gain muscle with very specific exercises to work around my limitations. About one month of that and I was doing those light exercises almost pain free. In April of 2017, he changed my exercises to start gradually increasing the weights. By the ...(more)
Can you describe in detail your training progression to become pain free?
At first I did only cardio, often 50 minutes on the bike, and did a circuit of 4 exercises at the end — usually some variation of abs and squats and repeated 3/4 times. Then I decided to include in the final part of the training (in the circuit part) some biceps and triceps just to activate the muscles, something very light (2/3 kgs tops). So it would be abs, biceps, squats, triceps, repeat 3/4 times. Then I increased to 5 kgs dumbbells. Since I wasn't feeling any pain I decided to substitute the biceps/triceps part to bigger muscle groups and included a seated chest machine with 20 kgs or s ...(more)
Have you adjusted your training approach to prevent re-injury?
Yeah, I do a very careful warm up before doing any strength work. Especially pull ups which for now are the exercise I'm currently doing that I feel more on my shoulders (not so much the chin ups those I can do ok). No only do I stretch beforehand, but I also do one set of 12 with 35 kgs and one set of 6 with 45 kgs, both very slowly, on the lat pull down to properly warm up. Then I spend some seconds just hanging from the bar, rest a bit and only then start the push ups.
Is there anything you wish you'd done differently throughout this process?
Well, yeah, looking back I wish I started doing stretches and working on my form/posture as soon as I finished the treatments for the pain rather then trying to train with some weight, fail, wait a couple of weeks, do it again, fail, repeat until I eventually stopped trying at all. I watched a lot of videos about posture and correct form during this process to recovery, which helped a lot.
What advice would you give others with your condition?
Just don't give up, I know too well what it's like to feel like the pain will never get any better and to feel like an old person because you can't train but there's probably an answer to your limitation somewhere somehow.