rotator cuff

anyone out paddling after having shoulder surgery, if so what kind of time frame am I looking at to get back to it

had arthro
on shoulder…not a tear in the cuff but had part of the clavicle cut away…4 weeks from cut to kayak and 6 before i put any real stress on the joint.

there are tears and there are tears
If you have had surgery, or you are anticipating surgery, I would strongly advise you to ask your surgeon that question. Your surgeon was there, or will be.

Second what pblanc said

– Last Updated: May-06-09 2:43 PM EST –

Your surgeon will know better than any stranger on pnet. Be sure to find a MD that specializes in shoulders as it is a difficult joint to repair well. The full extent of the problem is not fully known until the surgery takes place. Additional damage could be reveled in surgery.

My 18 week recovery was a "worse case" because I had to have the joint capsule repaired in addition to other internal repairs. Four weeks in a sling before PT could start. You're recovery time is likely to be a fraction of mine, but the MD's best guess will be after surgery.

The surgery was worth it as I have been enjoying paddling for five years after recovery.


Very critical question

– Last Updated: May-07-09 12:09 AM EST –

Former colleague of mine was specialist in these injuries. He taught me that the shoulder was a unique joint and that you risk terrible consequences by improper diagnosis treatment and recovery.

He would say get the best specialist and beware anyone else. Once it it treated incorrectly u can be at risk of permanent loss of function. The upside is if either treated correctly or carefully rested may be fine!!! Yes evidently sometimes it should not be operated on.

In a sling for 8 weeks now
and still a couple of weeks till next Drs appt. I supposedly had a lot of damage large tears and a detached bicep muscle. Just kind of trying to get an idea if the summer is going to be shot.

Biceps tear/repair
I have to again state that you will get a more accurate picture from the surgeon and PT than from some of us commenting from afar. I assume from your second post that you have had the surgery. What did the surgeon project as the recovery time? Have you started PT? What did the PT project as length of therapy? (if your PT doesn’t communicate well with you or doesn’t tailor your program to your stated wish to resume paddling in the future, change PTs-the PT is critical to your full recovery-mine was superb)

My injury was from slipping on ice while hiking and sticking out my arm to break the fall. The biceps tendon was split into thirds, with two of them detached from the bone. The joint capsule was ruptured. After surgery, I was in the sling for four weeks to allow the joint capsule repair to heal. Then I had 18 weeks of PT twice a week, done in 4 week phases. Each phase had a different focus with increased intensity. Surgery was Oct 2, 04 and I went back to pool sessions in early February 05 to practice kayak rolling. At that time I was still finishing up PT, working on range of motion. I started rolling practice after discussions with my PT. She didn’t give “permission” but agreed that I would be ok if I swept the paddle by trunk rotation, keeping the shoulder nearly locked, with my elbow at my side. I was cautious in rolling practice and recover was completed with excellent outcome.

Since you’re asking, from my experience I would guess that the best you can expect is possibly some paddling at the very end of summer. Don’t re injure yourself by starting too soon. The shoulder is a weak joint, let it heal fully. Repeating myself to the point of becoming obnoxious, get your time estimates from those working on your recovery, not strangers.

Best wishes for a full recovery and many more years of paddling,


2" tear in rotator cuff
had it repaired at Mayo Clinic this time. Twice before the local “SawBones” did repair. What a joke! Go to the best you can find! Mayo did the repair this past January. Told me to take it easy till October. I bought a “Feather”, Onno Paddles. (smaller blade) and started paddling flat easy water a week ago. Only 2 or 3 miles at a stretch. Being very careful! Probably have other shoulder fixed this fall at Mayo.

Bottom line— do exactly what surgeon ant PT tell you to do!

I only had a bone spur removed
in late Decemeber and am still recovering.Be very patient and do exactly what the pros tell you.

Rotator cuff
Had rotator cuff surgery 5 years ago for a complete tear. Partially due to my advanced age [53 at the time} I had 6 months of therapy two to three times a week. Full recovery was a year. Good news is it feels fine when paddling. I use a low paddle stroke. Bad news is what the surgeon told me when he released me. " Don’t do it again. If you think the first surgery was bad, it"ll be a walk in the park compared to the second one".

Best of luck to you.

for the help, had a good dr. and you are telling me about what therapist says pretty much the summer is shot,age doesn’t help (58) have to wait till next weeks dr. appt to get any other news.

age affecting recovery
While us older folks don’t heal like teenagers, age shouldn’t affect the ultimate outcome. I was 58 at the time of my surgery.

If you had a shoulder specialist do the surgery and you follow the PT program, working hard and avoiding over doing it, you should have an excellent outcome.

Happy paddling in the future,


There’s no pat answer.
I had a bone spur removed last year. Arthroscopically. I’m 59. I was back paddling flatwater for a couple miles three weeks after getting surgery. Talk to the PT. Do what they tell you to do. But don’t be a wussy, either.

don’t be a wussy?
sure, be a man and forge ahead and reinjure yourself, probably worse than the first time.

:sarcasm off:

Somawas, I was down w. your post til you said that. I’d like to assume you meant it kiddingly in a supportive way from one paddler to another.

If you did, no harm, no foul. So the rest of this is not specifically directed at you.


Rehab is not a machismo test. Man or woman, whatever age, it’s smart to listen to your body and know what pain is telling you. Set goals & gradually work towards them, yes. There will be pain enough in that.

It’s not a contest as to who gets out on the water soonest. A bone spur is not a shoulder impingement is not a sciatic nerve inflammation is not carpal tunnel, etc.

There are so many variables in body type, fitness level, age, activities, extent of injury, and many other factors that anonymous people on the net can never know or judge how hard someone else should push their rehab.

Peter, I wish you the best in your recovery. Take it at your pace. Accept the process and build on small victories. Hope is awesome and fruitful. Denial of the body’s lessons is not.

PT is critical
Ditto on following doctor’s orders. PT is what brings you back. Don’t backslide on that or you’re just where you started.

Rotator Cuff and Bicep tendon surgery
The essentials of this surgery are the best, experienced shoulder surgeon you can find; the best physical therapists (they are not all created equal)and you have to like working with them; willing to do exactly as they say (and if you like them you will); and very strong determination to return to full range of motion. It takes work and patience but it IS possible. The big thing is not to have any trauma on the healing shoulder (It was six months for me). It was worth it!

Varies a lot
Someone I know was told at least 4 months. He had a lot of work done on that shoulder. Ditto for someone else with multiple old injuries on his.

Mine was simpler, and after religiously doing PT and home exercises, I was back paddling for the first time 3 months later. And I took it easy, doing fewer miles than a normal first-of-the-season paddle.

I had managed care, so after my doc
and I agreed that an MRI might be helpful to find the nature and extent of the rotator cuff damage, he told me that he could not order the MRI until I had first gone to a PT for an impression and some weeks of treatment.

I asked whether there were cases where the damage might PRECLUDE PT treatment. He agreed there were, but the PT would probably exercise due diligence and that then we could get the MRI.

This all puzzled me because I knew that even if a radiologist got involved, the MRI would likely be cheaper than the PT.

Anyway, even though the pain was bad and prevented me from sleeping on that shoulder, I found that I could still paddle, and even execute cross sweeps and cross draws. I was just lucky as to the nature of the damage.

After about 6 months of no PT and no MRI, there is no indication of residual damage, though I’ll bet it isn’t what it once was.