I’ve been involved in sports all my life and this is the first time I’ve experienced a chronic injury, one that won’t go away, doesn’t seem to get better, but isn’t severe enough to lay me up and keep me out of the water…a torn rotator cuff injury. I did it last summer while i was, yes you guessed it, surfing. Stupid, stupid injury that happened on a small day doing something I’ve done a thousand times. I was longboarding with no leash, and as the wave closed out, I grabbed hold of the rail of the board to hold on to it so I wouldn’t lose the board. The wave took hold of the board and swung it out with me holding onto it, and rip – I felt a sharp tear at the back of my shoulder. Immediately, my arm went lame and I had to belly board it in to shore. I tore a muscle of some sort at the back of my shoulder blade.
For about a week, I didn’t surf, iced the shoulder, did some stretches and thought it was ok. I then got busy with summer surf lessons and kept teaching and surfing through the rest of the summer even though my shoulder was killing me. I only have lessons for about three months of the year, so I had to suck it up and teach because I knew by September, the demand for lessons would drop off, and I could take care of it then.
So September rolled around and I decided I needed to finally treat the injury. By this point, I not only had pain at the back of the shoulder where the initial tear occurred, but also at the front of the shoulder which I later learned is bicep tendanitis. I was also motivated to try to heal the injury now because I had a surf trip to Mexico planned (and paid for) in October and wanted to be able to paddle for long periods of time on this trip. So I started with deep tissue massage and accupuncture, and stopped surfing for three weeks. I suppose it felt a bit better because I was able to surf ok while in Mexico and push my time in the water to about four or five hours each day (double sessions). By the end of the trip, needless to say, my shoulder was f’ed and the pain was severe.
When I got back, I took time off, tried a couple of more accupunture appointments and a couple of chiropractic treatments, but the pain was still intense. I decided rather than mess around not knowing the extent of my injury, I would go ahead and see the orthopedic surgeon and get an MRI. I was loath to hear that I needed surgery, and delayed this decision for some time. When I finally did get the MRI done (which is another posting in and of itself), the good news was that it didn’t appear that surgery was necessary. I had scar tissue build up and severe bicep tendonitis that needed to be treated, but no surgery required.
Thus, I have now begun Physical Therapy, along with a heavy dosage of anti-inflammatories, and we’ll see. I still have alot of pain and weakness, but I am still surfing a bit. It’s so hard to give it up entirely. So I have had pain and surfed with pain for six months. The physical therapist is optimistic and said we should be able to reduce the inflamation and strengthen the muscles to help fix the problems. We’ll see.
Surfing with any injury sucks but surfing with a shoulder injury really sucks.