Q: I had a crash on my rollerskis in mid-May which resulted in dislocated shoulder and significant rotator cuff damage. I’m now 7 weeks post- surgical repair, and was told no upper body work for another ~6 weeks. So I’ve lost a good 3 months of my planned training for next season (I typically do ~450 hours with the usual increase in volume and interval work getting closer to winter). What do you recommend in the situation when someone loses a large chunk of time through illness or injury? What’s the best plan to try and get in shape for the coming season?
A: Sorry to hear about your shoulder, rotator cuff injuries are notorious for taking a long time to heal, so it is critical that you continue to follow the 6-week recommendation. The main priority is that the injury completely heals to avoid any reinjures.
When it comes to reinstating in a training plan after sickness or injury, it is important for the athlete to take caution to come back into the training program slowly.
You can continue the training program without using the upper body. You can also continue to rollerski just using one arm with one pole, this can work especially well with V1 skating. If you have already taken a large portion of time completely off, you are going to want to start with Level 1 distance training to rebuild your aerobic system. Running and rollerskiing are great options.
After 3 weeks of consistent Level 1 training, you can begin to add in Level 3 training, and find strength exercises you can complete without use of the injured shoulder. Continue with Level 1, Level 3 and strength training until 4-weeks before your first big ski race event. When you reach the 4-week mark, begin to add Level 4 training to the mix, shifting from Level 3 to more Level 4 intervals. This will help prime your body anaerobically in an appropriate time frame for your big race.
Overall, when it comes to injury or illnesses taking care of the little things is exponentially important. Recovery tactics such as hydrating, healthy nutrients, balanced energy consumption, sleep and keeping inflammation low is critical to your training progress.
Pay attention to your body, don’t overload it, and best of luck!