Daily Cardio Workouts for Shoulder Rehab

My daily routine during shoulder rehabilitation is shockingly different from the one I’ve followed for over 40 years as a self-employed artist. Before shoulder surgery I used to get up around 6:00AM and go to the gym for 45minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights, then be at work in my home office by 9:00AM checking email, taking care of correspondence, and cleaning up the desk. Mid-morning usually found me at the drafting table or easel depending on the project, where I painted, sketched or compiled research until lunch at noon. After lunch I continued my studio work until late afternoon when I’d return to the desk to take care of correspondence and new requests until dinner time around 6:00PM.

When I was much younger, I would work in the studio after dinner sometimes late into the night. During the last few years I’ve not had the energy or stamina to work long hours anymore, and have enjoyed relaxing in my home in the evening, watching a movie or reading. One day a week I spend reviewing completed artwork, print inventory, framing selections and generally attending to the business of marketing and selling. Three weeks ago my life changed abruptly.

My time is now spent in rehabilitation of my painting shoulder from rotator cuff surgery. I can’t paint, can barely write, and am pretty much a klutz doing anything very well with my left hand. I sleep very restless in the living room recliner chair at night and wake up cranky, tired and stiff. It takes me several hours to do my morning physical therapy exercises, eat, shower, and get dressed. I try to check email and desk by mid-morning before we drive to the gym for my mandatory daily cardio workout that began for 20 minutes with a goal to reach an hour long. Back home in time for lunch and another physical therapy session. By now I’m getting tired, so I take a break and read a bit. Before dinner I do my last physical therapy for the day, and afterward I collapse into the recliner that also serves as my bed. Day in and day out. I must admit that adding cardio workouts at the gym has improved my attitude and given me a chance to see other people, a nice break in the day. Overall my routine is boring, tedious, with slow progress hard to measure.

But, it will all be worth the effort if I can gain full use of my shoulder again.

Gail Niebrugge, Alaska artist

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