How Strength Training Helped Heal My Shoulder

Bionic Body-4079

By Tonya Stumphauzer

Around September 2012, I started feeling some pain in my right shoulder when I was playing my favorite sport of beach volleyball.

Volleyball players are not immune to aches and pains, especially in the shoulders, so I ignored it for the longest time. Eventually it got to the point where each time I raised my arm, I felt a sharp pain. I knew I would have to stop playing until it felt better, which was a depressing thought for me. In the meantime, I decided to focus on beach running as a way to keep in shape.
In December I decided enough time had passed where I should have it checked out by a doctor. They took X-rays, but the only diagnosis they could come up with was frozen shoulder/impingement. This was a very frustrating diagnosis as there was nothing they could really do, except try giving me a Cortisone injection (which did absolutely nothing), and prescribe physical therapy and some exercises.

I did do a couple sessions of PT, but because I'm self-employed and my insurance isn't that great, I couldn't justify the $80 I was paying per 30 minute session and didn't even feel like I was getting much out of it. So I decided to just do the exercises on my own.

The exercises, although decent, felt a little wimpy. I guess they design them for the lowest common denominator of people with similar injuries. The fact is it didn't really seem to help. I even got an MRI (which I had to pay for out of pocket) to make sure there wasn't a tear. There wasn't, and that doctor said I just had to keep going to PT. Obviously he hasn't lived on a freelancer's budget, so I said, “thanks but no thanks.”

By spring of 2014, the same pain that was in my right shoulder moved to my left, so now it was in both.

Frustrated, I tried Active Release Therapy (ART) which felt good (in a painful, foam-rolling kind of way), and helped with a little flexibility, but the pain persisted.

By some miracle, my right shoulder seemed to heal itself enough in late spring where I could start playing beach volleyball again. The left shoulder though, continued to be painful from spring of 2013 to early 2014. I did the exercises sporadically, but must admit I was never fully consistent. That is until I joined Bionic Body in February.

Not only was I still dealing with my shoulder, but I also had incredibly painful shin splints on my left leg from the Surf City half marathon that I ran on February 2nd. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty broken.

When I started Bionic Body, I felt like I had to give a bunch of disclaimers to the trainers about my ailments. What's helpful is the classes are intimate enough where I felt comfortable asking for adjustments, to make sure I wasn't further injuring myself. I could do most of the exercises static, and the trainers paid close attention to my form so that I was using my muscles correctly.

With the type of problem I had, I was informed that increasing muscle in my shoulders and back, would pull everything back and reverse damage a lot of us face daily with sitting at our computers from hours on end, i.e. hunched over.

Slowly over the course of several months I started feeling stronger. After a couple of months the shin splints healed and I could put pressure on my left leg, and then lo and behold one day out of the blue I noticed my shoulder pain was all but gone.

I thought about all the time I could have maybe healed myself quicker if I just focused on some serious strength training. Now, there is no guarantee that strength training is what cured my pain, but at the very least, I'm glad I started taking it seriously just from the standpoint of feeling a lot healthier!

by Tonya Stumphauzer


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