Dec 19, 2014

Surfing with a shoulder injury (or two)

It's not easy to accept that you can't surf.  Whether it's for a few days because you're sick or, even worse, a few months to years because of injury, being stuck out of the water is miserable.  In the last few years I have had a number of injuries that have kept me beached for more time than I was able to surf.

After two [only somewhat successful] SLAP repairs on both my shoulders, I'm finally getting back into the swing of things.  I was able to paddle around and stay out in overhead waves for almost an hour last weekend (see photos below).  Keep in mind, this is after almost a year of Physical Therapy (I hit my yearly insurance maximum of 65 visits), and countless doctor's appointments to discuss alternate treatments to an additional shoulder surgery.

I wanted to share what worked for me.  Firstly, find a GOOD physical therapist.  Make sure they (or, more likely, their aides) closely monitor your exercises and make sure you're using the correct muscles.  I spent months of physical therapy doing the correct motions with the wrong muscles.  I was sure physical therapy just couldn't help me until I went to a better practitioner who specialized in shoulders and had experience with surfers.  He was slowly able to ween back into more difficult paddling motions and strengthen the necessary muscles to maintain shoulder stability.

A less likely solution that I decided to try was a joint supplement called Animal Flex.  Yes, it sounds like an underground animal testing facility, but it seems to work.  It's a collection of 10+ joint supplements that supposedly increase joint functionality and resilience.  There are 3 categories of supplements called 'Joint Construction Complex', 'Joint Lubrication Complex', and 'Joint Support Complex'.  The names are somewhat self-explanatory and each complex consists of 3-6 individual supplements.  You take a pack of pills daily, and when you bust it out at lunch you look like you have a serious disease.  After just 3 weeks of taking the supplements, however, my shoulder feels much more mechanically sound.  Give it a try, and let me know what you think.



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