Paddling with rotator cuff injury

2 weeks 3 days ago #40619 by Epicpaddler
I tore my rotator cuff back in 2019. I decided at the time to avoid surgery unless it was absolutely necessary. I’ve been paddling successfully ever since without too much pain. Lately, my shoulder has been acting up more than usual. I know there are stretches and tricks to keep myself functional.

Any paddlers have/had a shoulder injury and what did you do?

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2 weeks 3 days ago - 2 weeks 3 days ago #40620 by mrcharly
Also would like to know.
PT says mine is not a rotator cuff injury (well, part of a tree fell on it, so no surprise).
CT scan showed a lot of inflammation and blood around tendon of the long bicep, but I don't have pain when curling . . . PT just confused.
This looks to be a useful site, I'll try some of it myself:

Posting this link for my benefit
Last edit: 2 weeks 3 days ago by mrcharly.

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1 week 4 days ago #40627 by benmlee
My experience is rotator cuff injury can only be fixed with time off especially if you are over 50. I hurt it once with bad technique, then it got better and kept paddling for a year with a little pain on and off. Hurt it again on a beach break. It became painful to even lift my arm to hang up a shirt. Only thing that helped was stop paddling for a year. It will take another year of slowly ramping up in paddling. I use Oscar Chalupsky's technique of elbow always down now. Move the body rather than the arms.

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1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #40629 by [email protected]
That is a horrific story... A year off paddling! Aaaargh!
I did my rotator cuff at around 45 and it took about 3 months and 100% rest to heal. I ended up going to the local Sports Science Institute where they referred me for a cortisone shot in the joint. All very well, but there was no advice/after care at all. I couldn't believe it - their attitude was, "you've had the shot, go forth..."
So I took another month of slow, gentle paddling on a lake - and worked on technique - before venturing back onto the sea. I was left dubious about the efficacy of the cortisone shot, but the upside was that I was back on the water.
The injury was caused by my holding my paddle above my head while going out through big surf. I still have the image seared into my brain of being literally smashed backwards over the tail of the ski... My introduction to Durban surf many years ago, the day before the Scottburgh to Brighton race. I did the race, but a week later, my rotator cuff was in agony.
So - "good luck, and take it slowly" to anyone with this horrible injury!


Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
Last edit: 1 week 4 days ago by [email protected].

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1 week 1 day ago #40632 by qmento
I'm 65, paddle 4 - 5 times a week, hour+ most sessions. Got a wonky right shoulder from weight lifting in my 20s and 30s. What helps me the most, and keeps me on the water, is keeping my shoulders down and my elbows lower than my shoulders through the stroke. Hope it works for you.

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4 days 13 hours ago #40643 by DrA5
I have had five shoulder surgeries over a 9-year time frame, three on one side, two on the other. Been through a lot of rehab. Clavicle fracture and repair, rotator cuff, SLAP tear, debridement, biceps tenodesis........

I find theraband/theratubing work, Bodyblade work outs and just general mobility work is the key. You want to keep as much Range of motion as possible, so you don't have adaptive movement patterns that predispose you to additional or future issues.

I find that a shoulder complex of band pulls, internal and external rotation of the shoulder, and working the surrounding muscles of the shoulders really helps. Ivan Lawler had some good band workout videos he made during COVID lockdowns in England that he posted on his YouTube page. Message me if you want more specific info. I am a sports chiropractor and work with athletes.

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17 hours 42 minutes ago #40651 by Watto
Hi five DrA5 - oops low five that! Same for me, three reconstructions left shoulder, two on the right from 17yo to now 72 mishaps skateboarding, rugby, motorbikes, cycling and general abuse swimming (long distance) and paddling. Throw in twelve months ago a bout of arm wresting with a 25yo after a few beers (did not end well). Same as you DrA5 have managed with a similar range of rehab activities and constant focus on swimming and paddling technique.

My last miscalculation however has resulted in ultrasounds, X-rays and after The Doctor and Worlds this year in Perth (if everything holds together in the meantime) an MRI (about $400!) and potential surgery again. Regardless of this injury which definitely causes discomfort with some shoulder movements here's the irony. If I don't paddle it gets worse!

My hand around the blade always across my face in front of me around chin level and always parallel with horizon (use a GoPro mounted front of your boat and replay slo-mo). Exceptions to this is forward stroke recovery high brace style when getting slapped occasionally in clapotis (refracted side-chop), but that is pain free with arm up high, right angle at elbow out front, if that makes any sense.

My focus is always twisting from the waist arm straight (maybe a tiny bend for leverage sometimes but aim is always to keep straight) and as per Lawler and other videos, paddling away from the boat and getting that blade out of the water at hips.

A final point re Rob's post; had two cortisone injections last 12 months, first very carefully and thoughtfully managed (two SKG female professionals) which worked for about a 70% recovery then a second scheduled pretty cursory injection (male SKG professional) which didn't help one iota. Without crapping on too much spent a few weeks in hospital at year's end 2022 diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis (!) and as part of the program for about 6 weeks onto prednisone big time, slowly getting weaned off. During this time my shoulder pains and discomfort basically disappeared!! My point, other than an injury through a tear which needs time to heal, subsequent inflammation will exacerbate joint movement so minimising inflammation through nsaids, effective movement/proper technique and strengthening surrounding muscles and attachments will really help.

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