Old 06-12-2013, 12:46 PM
airhockey21 airhockey21 is offline
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Gaithersburg, MD
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Cool Making a comeback to DG after shoulder surgery

I had scheduled shoulder surgery in May for a torn rotator cuff on my throwing arm and am looking to return to playing disc golf as soon as I finish with PT and my doctor gives me clearance. I mostly throw discs that weigh between 171-175g. My only discs that are under 170 are a CE Panther and Star TL that both are 167g. Should I be starting out with throwing lighter discs when I get back on the course or can my arm take throwing the heavier weights. If anyone out there has been through this same ordeal please give me some input as to how to start over with playing my favorite hobby. Your feedback would be much appreciated.
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Old 06-12-2013, 02:55 PM
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justactnormal justactnormal is offline
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Okay airhockey, I'm going to give you advice through my experience. You probably won't like it, but here goes. Just so you know, I had surgery to repair torn ligaments and labrum on my shoulder b/c of multiple dislocations. Your exact situation may be quite different, but if you had enough damage to warrant repair through surgery then I would think that our situations are close enough that you shouldn't think that I'm just blowin' smoke, especially if your surgery was the result of an acute injury.

First, don't put a self imposed deadline when you'll start playing again. I'm sure you'll want to get back out there as soon as your PT is over, but just don't. From personal experience and from what others have told me, it takes a year or more before you feel "normal" again. You've likely been in a immobilizing brace for 6 weeks or more ( I was), and trust me, it's going to take a long while before you can do normal stuff like lift light weights overhead, much less something as strenuous as play DG. Disc weight is going to make no difference. Even when your doctor clears you to get back to normal activity, take it very slowly. Normal activity usually means very light lifting and things like typing, light cleaning or reaching for a can off of the top shelf and things like that. You're not even supposed to mow the grass or rake leaves for months following a torn cuff repair, and you certainly shouldn't even think about playing any sports until you can do stuff like that easily, with normal range of motion and no pain.

When you can do normal activities and your shoulder feels kind of normal again, then maybe start thinking about talking to your doctor about playing sports. But again, take it slowly and don't do anything that will stress your repair without specifically talking to your orthopedist first. Most people (doctors included) have no idea what it takes to play disc golf. They think when you say you want to play disc golf that you mean you want to toss a frisbee to your kids. The best thing I could tell you to ask them is something like "When can I play tennis again, with no limitations or risk of re-injury?" I know DG is not usually as stressful on your shoulder as tennis, but it's something that your doctor will understand with respect to what kind of strength and range of motion you should have before you even think about getting out there again.

It's going to be months post-surgery before you get there. Remember that even when you start to be able to move normally again, the repair is going to be quite weak and you don't want to do anything that might compromise the repair. Repairing a repair is 100 times harder on you and you might not ever get back normal range of motion if you have to go through that. This sounds scary, but it's true. You didn't go through all the pain and trouble of having this surgery b/c you just have a sore shoulder sometimes. If you had a cuff repair, then you had a serious tear that needed to be surgically repaired. Doctors can be pretty nonchalant about the whole thing b/c they see jacked up joints and do surgeries all the time, so it's no big deal for them. It is a big deal for you, though, and how you treat yourself post surgery is as big a factor in your long term prognosis as what your doctor did. Just sayin'.

When you are able to start doing normal things and your doctor says it's okay to play tennis, then start by trying to do things like throw a disc. You're going to be surprised at how weird it feels and you're not going to be able to go 100% or even 80% for a long while. But start slowly. Practice putting and then try a few throws when you're done and work up to throwing a little more and a little harder each time. Don't just think "oh my doctor said it's okay" and try to throw a Firebird 100%. It will hurt and you most likely will hurt yourself again.

I'm giving a lot of advice, I know, but again it's from experience. I personally can throw no overhead shots of any kind and I wouldn't recommend that you try anytime soon. Don't underestimate the amount of stress and torque that puts on your shoulder. Take it easy with forehand shots and big anhyzer/roller shots as well. They're tough on shoulders to begin with, not to mention surgically repaired ones. If it hurts, stop immediately.

Finally, I'll just say that I'm sure you want to get out and play right away but the risk is not worth it. You should plan on sitting out this whole season, maybe work on your putting and try to play again next year. Remember that you are not a pro athelete, with either the medical resources or pressure to "get back to work" that they have. It's not like you're a baseball player that won't get a paycheck if you aren't able to get out there and make a start, or your contract is riding on your performance. DG is a recreational hobby for most of us, so I couldn't stress enough how important it is to not risk your long term health to play.

Take it easy and take care, and you'll make it back on the course. Maybe in your down time you'll get to be a lights out putter. Then when you can really start ripping into it, you'll be tearing courses up left and right. Best of luck to ya.
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