shoulder injuries

Chronic pain: Exercise can bring relief - part 2

A year and half ago I could not reach up and adjust my rear view mirror without shooting pain. I had trouble reaching out to close the car door. Often just laying in bed was painful. Now I do those things without a care in the world.  Exercise changed things dramatically.   

To avoid chronic pain such as arthritis those afflicted will avoid movements that cause them pain. Eventually that leads to a loss of strength, a decreased range of motion, and more pain – a vicious cycle.   Proper exercise will eliminate the pain, increase strength and range of motion, and create a positive cycle.

The right exercise will have the following components:

  • The ability to limit the range of motion to a pain-free range of motion. For some that may be just a few degrees. For most people that range will gradually increase over time. At Austin Personal Training and New Orleans Personal Training we use state-of-the-art MedX medical rehab equipment that is better tolerated by those with painful joint problems. One of the features of this equipment is the ability to limit the range of motion to just a few degrees if necessary.


  • Eliminate harmful forces associated with rapid acceleration. Use slow controlled movements. We use a protocol of controlled movements that was written up in the magazine, Arthritis Today. This protocol is highly effective, and it minimizes stress to the joints and connective tissue.


  • Eliminate certain pain-causing movements entirely. If possible perform similar movements at a different angle. One client with arthritic shoulders cannot perform an over-head press without pain, but he has been doing the bench press for years now with no difficulty.


  • Do just enough exercise to facilitate a positive change. The body, when exposed to more that it is used to handling, will make a positive adaption as a form of self-protection. The proper amount of exercise is the amount that stimulates that positive change. Anything more that is at best a waste of time and at worst, especially for those suffering chronic pain, counter-productive bringing on more pain and repetitive-use injuries.


Following these guideline we have helped several clients make profound improvements in their lives.

Chronic pain: Exercise can bring relief

Exercise can be a great way to ease chronic pain. There are risks associated with inactivity and benefits associated with movement.

When you're in pain, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind, but regular exercise can be a versatile weapon in the fight against chronic pain.

When you're inactive, your muscles — including your heart — lose strength and work less efficiently. Your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes increases. Inactivity can increase fatigue, stress and anxiety as well.

"Years ago, people who were in pain were told to rest," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. "But now we know the exact opposite is true. When you rest, you become deconditioned — which may actually contribute to chronic pain."

As tough as it may be to start an exercise program, your body will thank you. Exercise can:

  • Prompt your body to release endorphins. These chemicals block pain signals from reaching your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety and depression — conditions that can make chronic pain more difficult to control."Endorphins are the body's natural pain relievers," Dr. Laskowski says. "Endorphins have the potential to provide the pain-relieving power of strong pain medications, such as morphine."
  • Help you build strength. The stronger your muscles, the more force and load you'll take off your bones and cartilage — and the more relief you'll feel.
  • Increase your flexibility. Joints that can move through their full range of motion are less likely to be plagued with aches and pains.
  • Improve your sleep quality. Regular exercise can lower your stress hormones, resulting in better sleep.
  • Boost your energy level. Think huffing and puffing through a workout will leave you wiped out? Not likely. Regular exercise can actually give you more energy to cope with chronic pain.
  • Help you maintain a healthy weight. Exercise burns calories, which can help you drop excess pounds. This will reduce stress on your joints — another way to improve chronic pain.
  • Enhance your mood. Exercise improves blood and oxygen flow to your muscles and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Looking and feeling better can improve your confidence and self-image as well.
  • Protect your heart and blood vessels. Exercise decreases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.


For those with chronic pain consult your doctor to be cleared to exercise. It's natural to be worried about hurting yourself or making your pain worse, but with your doctor's reassurance and guidance, you can safely exercise with the knowledge that your pain isn't serving a useful protective purpose. Regular exercise actually eases chronic pain for many people.

Even if you recognize the benefits of exercise, staying motivated can be a challenge. "Remember to start slowly," Dr. Laskowski says. "Don't rush into a strenuous workout regimen before your body is ready. Consistency is more important than intensity — especially if you have severe pain." It's also helpful to build your exercise program around activities you enjoy. As your energy increases and your mood improves you may actually look forward to exercising.

Also it helps to have the very best equipment. At Austin Fitness Training and New Orleans Fitness Training we use MedX medical rehab equipment that is better tolerated by those with painful joint problems.

Exercise for those with shoulder injuries

This man (pictured here at this link toward the bottom) used to spend 12 hours a week in the gym.  By age 24 he'd already had two rotator cuff operations.   Because of his rotator cuff injuries he couldn't lift a 100 pound barbell over his head without aggravating his shoulders. He began training with us on our MedX rehabilitative exercise equipment.  With the MedX overhead press he did not aggravate his rotator cuff and his strength improved; he eventually was able to lift 316 pounds smoothly and safely using the MedX overhead press.  He reported that he was stronger than he'd ever been.

At New Orleans Personal Trainers and Austin Personal Trainers we use smooth controlled movement that minimize the ballistic forces that can cause injuries.  We also will use medical rehab equipment that can be used by those in a delicate condition and also by those in great shape.   The weights can be varied as little as two pound increments, and the weight stacks go up to 1000 pounds.   The range of motion can be adjusted to as little as just a few degrees depending on the limitations of the client.   Regardless of your physical state we can help you safely find out just how much exercise you need to produce positive change.

More article about the shoulder here

Shoulder pain and referred pain finally disappears

I was sitting in the dentist chair getting my teeth cleaned, and I began to moan. Not because of a recent Achilles operation, not because of my teeth, no it was because of pain in both my shoulders.  In addition to pain in my shoulders, for weeks I had been having referred pain running down my arms, and numbness in both my hands down to my fingertips. It was intolerable. Sleeping was horrible. My range of motion was increasingly becoming restricted, and the outlook looked worse if I did not do something. One shoulder was well on its way to becoming frozen.

My doctor gave me a couple Cortisone shots, and I went to physical therapy.  The pain dissipated and I was discharged.  I was still somewhat restricted in my use, and I could see the possibility of the pain flaring up again. I began strength training again. My trainer restricted my range of motion to a pain-free range. The range was very small at first, but it increased over time. Each week he had me lift a little more. Slowly my range of motion increased and the last remnants of pain disappeared.  I did not have to get into a special position to sleep.  I just slept hassle-free.

I had not been working out for some time before and long after my Achilles operation.  After this recent shoulder experience, I feel I can’t afford not to work out. I feel the pain will return. It feels so good after a workout. Old injuries will come back to haunt you unless you do something to keep them at bay.  For me the solution was strength training.  Not any old strength training, but lifting on MedX medical rehab equipment designed for those with limiting factors and also for those with sound bodies as well.   

At Austin Personal Training and New Orleans Fitness trainers we offer extensive lines of MedX strength and rehabilitative exercise equipment. One client who suffered from back pain called her improvement "a radical transformation"

The Price Of Inactivity

In the last 35 years I have had about a half dozen times where I got out of the habit of exercising as a result of injuries or life just getting in the way. When that happened I had a greater propensity to eat more comfort food. I would even get up in the middle of the night to eat. Of course I gained weight, sugar levels went up, bad cholesteral went up, and my blood pressure was a little harder to control. What was more striking was how badly I felt. Old injuries came back to haunt me.

Last year I tore my Achilles tendon right in two. The recovery was slow. I stopped all exercise for months. I woke up one day with a pain in my shoulder that’s lasted for days. I further injured it playing around with my daughter. The pain, numbness, and restricted movement lasted for months. Because I favored one shoulder I slept on the other shoulder, and it soon began to hurt as well.

The pain and numbness just would not go away. I couldn’t reach over my head, reach out to close the car door, and had trouble putting on a shirt. I couldn’t sleep; the pain was persistent. Each night was constant struggle to find a position that would not hurt or make my arms numb. I began therapy with positive results. Massage helped too. I eventually got a shot of cortisone, and the pain subsided enough that I began strength training again, slowly building up.

The pounds started coming off and the pain totally disappeared. I was motivated to eat better. If I was going to all this effort of exercising I did not want to sabotage it with bad eating habits. Eventually I could move my shoulders effortlessly without having to be conscious of every movement.

At New Orleans Fitness Trainers and at Austin Personal Training we have extensive lines of Medical rehab equipment that can be finely adjusted to accommodate those with physical limitations to get you back to effortlessly doing the things you want to do and increase your quality of life. The time, effort, and price of price of exercising far outweigh the price of not exercising.

Minutes a week to stay strong

One can live well without requiring hours each week engaged in monotonous exercise. Significant strength increases occur exercising as little as once or twice a week IF it's the right exercise program with the right trainer.

Such a workout can be very demanding, but people or any age or fitness level can do this and benefit from it. Clients slowly build up to a level they can handle. It is an attractive alternative for those who often don't have time for exercise.

From this Wall Street Journal article GE's Bob Wright Stays Strong By Lifting Weights Very Slowly:

“Workouts typically consist of one set of six to 12 exercises with little rest between sets…. trainers find a weight load that renders muscle fatigue in 60 to 90 seconds, and take clients through a full-body workout in approximately 30 minutes”.

Bob Wright is a very busy man. He serves as vice chairman and executive officer of General Electric Co. He injured his shoulder playing golf. To avoid surgery he began lifting weights to stabilize his shoulder. He got great results. Others with shoulder injuries have too.

The fitness trainers at Austin Personal Training and the fitness trainers atNew Orleans Personal Training can guide you through a similar personal training program that will enable you to get more out of less time exercising.

What clients are saying - "amazing and remarkable”

Number nine in a series about what clients have to say about their workouts. A recent email from a client:



I just got back from my appointment with the ortho surgeon. The last time I saw him was about 6 weeks before we started in September. His response to the movement in my arm was "amazing and remarkable". He thought I'd be doing well if I could just reach the top of my head. I gave him your name and will take a couple of cards by his office if you'd like. Thank you!!! See you on Wednesday.


Tom severely injured his shoulder, and as a result he has prosthetic parts in his reconstructed shoulder. He was out for six months before he could resume exercising. When he first started back he would routinely use his good hand to position his bad arm into place to do certain exercises. He could not lift his arm up to shoulder level. After his last workout, I asked him to reach up and touch the chin-up bar overhead. He did it with ease.

Another client who comes in the same day has just started back as well. He broke his arm in nine places and has metal in his arm. I did even know you could break a bone in nine places without being in a motorcycle accident. He is very happy with his results. His wife informed him that he “could never stop doing this” – doing this meaning strength training.

We use MedX rehabilitation exercise equipment at both our locations - at Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Personal Trainers. The unique patented design of our equipment allows us to safely address problem areas like the back and shoulders. The equipment can be finely adjusted to any condition, weak or strong – the weight stacks go up to 1000 pounds. Weight changes can be made with increments as small 1/20 of those of most other equipment, and adjustments for range of motion can be made for those with limited mobility. People of any age or condition can benefit for this exercise program. Our oldest client is 92 years old. The best part is that it doesn’t require endless hours in the gym.

We are convinced that strength training is essential for a higher quality of life as we age. It is our good fortune to be able to play a small part in helping people make positive changes in their lives, and we appreciate their kind words. Seeing clients make positive changes is what makes our jobs worthwhile.

Previous blog entries in the series What Clients Are Saying:
1. @#%& incredible
2. Seems too good to be true, but it actually is that good
3. After each session, I always felt better on all levels.
4. This would not have happened to me if I had a personal trainer
5. This affects all aspects of my life.
6. I saw a remarkable change in my body
7. A Radical Transformation
8. I don’t think I would be alive today

Strength Training for Those Who Have Had Rotator Cuff Injuries and Back Problems

The overhead press can be a very productive exercise. Like any exercise, if it performed with improper form or to excess injuries may result. For those who have shoulder or back problems it might be best to avoid this exercise altogether.

To perform the overhead press with a barbell the bar has to pass in front of your face. It has to pass sufficiently close to your face in order to keep your center of gravity directly above your feet; otherwise you will fall forward. To keep your center of gravity above your feet it is necessary to arch your back. It also requires you to move your arms through a range of motion that could potentially cause a rotator cuff injury. In the finished locked out position the back is arched and exposed to vertebral compression from the weight baring down over head.

For those who have experienced shoulder and back injuries there is an alternative. One could use exercise equipment designed to support the back, and one that requires a motion that is more easily tolerated by the shoulders. At Austin  Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers  we use MedX rehabilitative exercise equipment. The equipment is designed to follow the natural arching movements of the body.

The subject below has back support and in the finished or locked out position the weight will be out in front of him and not directly overhead thus eliminating significant vertebral compression. The arms move in front of him in a natural arching motion and the machine movement arm follows the same path. The end result is an exercise that has the desired affect of putting more stress on the muscles around the shoulder, and it is far less stressful to the rotator cuff and the back.

This subject had had two rotator cuff surgeries by age 24 – one on each shoulder. The countless hours in the gym had taken their toll on his shoulders. He cannot lift weights overhead in the conventional manner without causing pain to his shoulder. Using the MedX overhead press he is able to workout with significant weight – 316 pounds – with no aggravation to his shoulders. His training regime consists of one full body workout a week. He reports that he is stronger now than when he was spending hours in the gym, and his shoulders are pain-free.

For those who have had injuries they often do little or no exercise. This creates weakness and a greater likelihood of re-injury and chronic pain. It is important to remain strong to avoid re-injury. The catch 22 is that the exercise necessary to increase strength might also cause injury. The equipment we use more effectively stresses the muscles and is more easily tolerated by the joints thereby lessening the change for injury. We have worked with many who have had shoulder problems. After a few months they forget they even had a problem. Their range of motion increases, their strength increases, and most importantly, they acquire a measure of protection from additional injury that they did not have before.