If you have been through a certain experience, you will undoubtedly have some practical advice to share with someone going through the same situation.

That experience allows you to speak with a voice that resonates greater than someone who lacks this experience.

Makes sense.

I work with people all the time that have injuries and associated pain and other symptoms. I have become very skilled at helping these people, even though, I have suffered only minor injuries to this point in my life.

If you truly want to understand someone's situation, walk a mile in their shoes, right?

shoulder dislocation empathy

Since I have been relatively healthy, I thought that I needed to have a big-time injury to help better understand those I intend to help.

Well, actually, that is how I became a patient for the first time. 


It was an overcast and cool Saturday. I was slated to run the Foam Fest 5k later in the morning. I had been training for the race by adding some runs prior to my workouts.

For anyone that knows me, you know that I despise running. I would rather take a stick to the eye or blunt object to my face than go for a run.

Nonetheless, I trained for the race and felt pretty confident about it prior to.

The race was a 5k with obstacles thrown in to make the running part not so awful. I have done a race like this before and I looked forward to the obstacles because it wasn't running.

The first couple were easy. Like a hot-knife-through-butter easy. 

Then came this POS (the slide not the girl. I don't even know her. I am sure she is nice):

All smiles. It's all fun and games until...

All smiles. It's all fun and games until...

Looks harmless enough. Basically it was a bouncy house slip and slide with a pool of dirty water at the bottom. That is right in my wheel house. I was going to dominate.

I watched people kinda get stuck and have to scooch down the slide. In my mind, I knew that would not be me. I was going to hit this thing like I was going for gold in the ice luge. Just without the sled and going on my stomach.

I got a running start and hit the slide on the fly. At the bottom was a small pool filled with brown water that was probably a 50/50 mix of mud and animal shit from the farm the event was held on. I assumed (never assume anything) that the water was deep enough that I did not want my face in it so I turned to my left a bit.

Turns out, the water was only about a foot deep and I hit the ground hard. So hard that I popped my left shoulder out of the socket. Once I got up from the ground it popped back in.

I won't repeat what I said but know it is was NSFW and not kid-friendly. 

I crawled out of my shallow, mud-shit pool and took a minute to assess the situation. Pain was not bad and I could move my arm.


On to the next obstacle. 

Running was ok, although by the end my left hand was clutching my shirt to keep the arm in a sling-position. 

Did I mention that the shoulder popped out 4 different times?

Here comes number two.

So I approach this rope ladder setup. I approach with a sense of calm and confidence. It is not up-and-over but shimmying across the side.


I am apprehensive but I start slow and have no pain.

I am moving one square at a time and continue to feel good. For some unknown reason, I take a big step (skipping multiple squares) and as I shift to the side, leave the left arm out to the side, it pops out violently. Worse than the first time.

I jump off the net and land in a 1/2 kneeling position. I am not sure if I just yelled or yelled profanity as one of the workers came over to ask if I am alright.

I say that I am and once the shoulder is back in again, we jog on. 

Jogging is starting to become more painful. My arm is starting to hurt more just in general, so I skip the next obstacle (which was crawling on the ground under some ropes).

I jog up a hill and come back to meet my foe again. Another 4-lane slide. The same type that started this whole situation.

Hmmmmm. What do I do? Walk around or try again?

I did mention that it popped out 4 times, right?

This time, I opt for a baseball slide instead of going head-first. Genius, right?

Seemed like sound logic as I approached. However, me landing on the slide and bouncing as I slid down was enough force to pop it out and in again.

I decide to skip a couple of the next obstacles as the pain was increasing and I did not want to use the arm for anything. 

I approached the lily pad obstacle feeling pretty good about my changes. You are basically running across some shallow water on what look like yoga mats.

I watched a bunch of people cross and only a couple fell. My confidence grows. So, I start my journey across. I get about three-quarters of the way and I slip, but don't fall. But, this loss of balance causes my left arm to swing up, popping it out and back in again.

I know for a fact that the F-word was mentioned. There was a guy sitting at the other side that asked if it was my shoulder. It was.


I did manage to finish the race but the lily pad was the last obstacle I tried. The pain was getting worse and I finally learned my lesson.

The rest of that day brought brief, but sharp episodes of pain that would drop my to my knees when it happened.

UPDATE 2/23/18

I am pleased to report that I have full range of motion in the injured shoulder and would say that I am at about 70-75% of strength prior to the injury.

Most exercises do not cause pain, just a lot of fatigue that accumulates rapidly. 

I no longer think about the arm when wrestling with the kids or when doing most activities.

Just for good measure, I have fallen a handful of times (a couple in the snow while sledding) and the shoulder did not pop out and did not hurt. Yay me! 

Make sure you grab your FREE guide to getting more out of less time in the gym by clicking here: Get more out of less time in the gym.

Until next time,

Dr. Tom 

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