My First 5 Weeks
Read about my week-to-week progress as I successfully treated my rotator cuff injury without painkillers, anti-inflammatories or cortisone shots
On the previous page I described why I chose Brad Walker’s 7-Step Rotator Cuff Treatment System as a means to recovering from a partial rotator cuff tear.
Before I reveal my week-by-week progress, see how I can now raise both arms equally high even though I have a 50% partial rotator cuff tear in my left shoulder:
Due to the advanced age of my injury (3 months at diagnosis) I skipped step 1 and started my rotator cuff treatment at step 2. If you’re diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff within 72 hours of injury, you’ll start at step 1.
I cannot divulge the actual details of the exercise program as I would be violating the copyright terms, but based on my progress you can decide whether this is the right system for you.
Step 2 is all about preparing your shoulder for the exercises that are to follow, so I didn’t expect any improvement in my range of motion. But I took photos nonetheless and discovered that I did improve a little in one week.
The photo below demonstrates how high I could raise my left arm after my injury (0), and my improvement one week into the 7-step program (1).
Step 2 of the 7-step program is very easy. It can last from seven days to three weeks depending on your progress. It is important to stay on step 2 until you feel ready to move on to step 3, and you must be patient.
Part of the program involves frequent shoulder rubs or massages. It really helps to have someone do this for you. I didn’t, so I did it myself. For the massage I used inexpensive Jojoba Oil from Trader Joe’s, but any massage oil will do.
During this step of your rotator cuff injury treatment, a topical anti-inflammatory and pain-relief cream is recommended. I used this homeopathic one suggested by Brad in his 7-step program.
I also introduced a natural, edible anti-inflammatory
In addition to starting the program, I also researched foods that are natural anti-inflammatories. Click here to read how I used ginger and turmeric to reduce inflammation.
Although week 1 produced very little improvement in my range of motion, I was not disappointed as this step is really about preparation.
As I didn’t feel quite ready to move on to step 3, I continued with step 2 for one more week.
Four days into week 2 I felt ready to move on to step 3 of the 7-Step Rotator Cuff Treatment System. The exercises in step 3 don’t specifically target your rotator cuff or shoulder. Rather, they are intended to get all the muscles in your body ‘talking’ to one another again.
I did all the step 3 exercises on the first morning of week 2 even though the instructions warn you to take it easy and to only move onto the next exercise once you’re comfortable with the previous one. Apparently I overdid it…I woke up the next morning with a sore arm. The exercises seemed very basic but they are really quite potent in their effect.
Lesson learned: do as you’re told, don’t be a smart-ass, and be patient.
But more about step 3 in a minute…first have a look at my progress after just two weeks on the program:
More about step 3. When you’ve been protecting a shoulder injury for months, the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments can become compromised too. This leads to a lack of control of the muscles and tendons, and can also effect the stability of the shoulder joint.
The exercises in step 3 help more with balance, co-ordination and muscle control and less with range of motion.
But step 3 forms a vital part of the recovery from a rotator cuff injury, and it’s the part that many other treatment plans leave out.
The instructions in step 3 make it perfectly clear that the exercises are progressive and that you should not feel pressured to move on to the next exercise until you can do the previous one without pain.
It also warns that the exercises may seem ‘childish’, and indeed, on paper they did look a tad trivial. But I paid the price for poo-pooing them and quickly realized that I should ‘back off’ , as the program suggests, when the exercises get a little uncomfortable.
The exercise that floored me the most was one of the simplest ones: stand on one leg with your hands at your side and your eyes closed for 30 seconds. To my total amazement I flunked this one badly. I started falling over after about 5 seconds!
I’ve taken a natural anti-inflammatory—a quarter teaspoon of turmeric—every day, and no anti-inflammatory pills at all. I took one Tylenol the day after I pushed my luck with the easy-looking exercises, but to date that’s the only pain killer I’ve taken.
- Pay attention to the instructions and work progressively, and back off when you feel any discomfort.
- Don’t do any activity that causes pain.
- Be patient. In my hurry to regain the use of my arm I moved forward too fast and had to back off.
Three weeks into the program – and look at this:
In week 3 I overcame the ‘frozen shoulder’ part of my problem and started to feel that I really did have a chance of sorting out my rotator cuff injury without steriods, injections, or anti-inflammatory medication.
I did the exercises twice a day, and heated and massaged my shoulder each time. I did about 90% of the shoulder massages myself, and frankly I found it a bit tiresome. It’s just not that easy to massage your own shoulder, so it often turned out to be more of a rub that a real massage. But it worked pretty well.
My range of motion behind my back did not improve much, but the step 3 exercises don’t address backward movement so I wasn’t expecting more than this.
Have a look:
In week 4 I started step 4 of the 7-Step Rotator Cuff Treatment System and kept doing some of the most beneficial exercises from step 3 as well. I missed two days of exercising in week 4, and I had difficulty with a couple of the exercises. But in spite of that…I managed to achieve this:
Bending my arm behind my back is still very difficult, but I’m progressing by an inch or two a week:
I realize that this is slow, specially compared to the progress I might have made if I was getting traditional rotator cuff therapy, but I knew from the start that recovering from a torn rotator cuff would take longer if I did it without pain-killers, steroids or anti-inflammatory medication—and I’m more than happy to accept the tradeoff.
The step 4 exercises are not at all complicated, but two of them are particularly challenging for my injured arm. All you need in order to complete the step 4 exercises is a chair and a wall.
The two exercises I had difficulty with involved placing my arm on the wall extending in a backwards direction from my body, and my arm did not want to do that. In fact, my arm felt like it was attached to my body with tightly fastened nuts and bolts.
All of week 4 I continued to include some of my favorite exercises from step 3 along with the step 4 exercises. The exercises took 30 to 40 minutes to complete.
- Identify the exercises from step 3 that still challenge you, and keep doing them.
- Introduce the step 4 exercises slowly if you can’t manage them all at first.
- Don’t force your arm into positions it doesn’t want to go into. Push it to the point just before it hurts, and hold it for the full minute.
I was definitely not ready to move on the step 5 during the fifth week, so I continued with the step 4 exercises for another week.
Week 5 was simple – I simply continued the step 4 exercises for one more week until I felt that I had mastered them and they were being effective. My progress was great!
Check out the photo:
My backward-reaching progress at the end of week 5 was minimal, as with previous weeks—I still could not reach very high behind my back, but I was having a lot less trouble doing things like blow drying my hair. Plus, the awful pain I had in the 3 months after my rotator cuff injury reduced by about 70%.
And my balance improved tremendously from doing the stand-on-one-leg exercise. I can now stand on one leg with my eyes closed indefinitely.
Lesson learned: if your progress doesn’t seem spectacular don’t feel despondent and don’t be impatient. Just keep pushing on. And remember, if you have questions or need help Brad has first class customer support. He’ll help you along.
At the end of week 5 I felt that the preparation stage of my treatment was done and I was ready to start with more advanced exercises.
Legal and Health Disclaimer:
The information on this website is for information purposes only. It reflects my personal experience using The 7-step Rotator Cuff Treatment System for guidance through rotator cuff exercises. It is not intended to replace the medical advice from a licensed physician or medical practitioner. Before considering ANY procedure, exercise or general advice please consult with a doctor.