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Returning to Play

As someone in his 40s, I have experienced my share of injuries and know how hard it can be to wait to return to the sport you love. Some of the hardest conversations I have had with patients center around their expected recovery time.

Having gone through hip arthroscopy, I know what it is like to be limited for 6 months and I especially remember that feeling of being 3 months in and never feeling like I would get back. But I did get back to, and for golfers recovering from shoulder surgery the same can be expected in most cases.

Allow Yourself Time To Heal

Returning to golf or any sport after surgery is not just about being able to play again but being able to avoid further injury. Stay mindful of the fact that while it might not feel like it and seems initially counterintuitive, letting yourself rest is not time wasted. We have come to feel like our self-worth stems from our productivity, which is not the case. This shift in perspective is crucial for your recovery.

Dr. Patrick Denard and Friends
Dr. Patrick Denard and Friends

Rather than viewing the injury as a crisis, make it another health challenge. Your goals will now focus on recovery rather than performance; this will help keep you motivated.

Symptoms of Shoulder Healing Process

How soon you return to golf will be guided by the type of surgery and how you heal. You will have time when you are confined to a sling. This is because you need to give your soft tissues time to heal after the surgery.

Patients returning to the golf who underwent shoulder surgery may initially experience stiffness from healing. This typically resolves by six months after surgery. The physical therapy program will be directed toward slowly increasing shoulder range of motion.

Initially, patients should be careful to limit range of motion to what feels comfortable and stay within the safe zone based on your surgeon’s recommendations.

Guidelines for Returning to Play After Shoulder Surgery

Here are some precautions for golfers who have had shoulder surgery but are ready to return to the game.

My general guideline after rotator cuff repair or shoulder replacement is the following:
• Putting is allowed at 8-12 weeks after surgery
• Chipping is allowed at 16 weeks after surgery
• Full swings are allowed 6 months after surgery

Through the recovery process and even afterwards, always do warm-up exercises for the shoulder. Be sure to stretch prior to swinging. For a link to our library of rehab stretches, visit our YouTube Channel. Develop the habit of listening to your shoulder and if an activity feels pain free, then the chances are it is NOT doing you harm.

Dr. Patrick Denard has been voted one of the top 20 Shoulder Surgeons in North America and is the most widely published shoulder specialist in Oregon. Dr. Denard is committed to providing the highest level of Orthopedic care to his patients. Dr. Denard has advanced arthroscopy training and is able to perform the vast majority of shoulder procedures in a minimally invasive fashion, including all types of rotator cuff repairs and in-stability repair. These techniques allow him to repair tears that some consider “irreparable.” Providing every patient with advanced medicine and compassionate care each and every time.