Read how Physio Dave helped an Open Water Swimmer recover from shoulder surgery


Earlier this autumn, Physio Dave Burnett interviewed one of his clients about his recovery from shoulder surgery. Read on to learn of his challenges and triumphs!



Dave: Hi Matt, tell us a bit about yourself and what sport & exercise you do?

Matt: Hi Dave. I’m a 36 year old Australian Structural Engineer. I have been living in the Barnes and Mortlake area for nearly 10 years and I have a pretty hectic lifestyle, trying to balance work travel commitments with a young, active family.

Between work and family, I manage to squeeze in some time to play a good variety of sports including rugby, surfing, tennis, squash and swimming. Over the past few years I have tended to focus on Open Water Swimming. This means training at least 2-3 time per week for distances of between 1 -3 km.

Sourced from Adventure - how stuff works

Sourced from Adventure – how stuff works

Dave: Can you tell us how and when your shoulder problem started?

Matt: I have historically had a weak shoulder from playing rugby. I’ve found swimming a great help to keeping fit but last year I began to notice some pain in my arm below the shoulder joint after training. This progressively became more painful to a stage where I was struggling to lift my arm above my head.

Dave: Please tell us about the operation you underwent?

Matt: I was fortunate enough to have a Physio-focused surgeon who encouraged me to investigate all avenues before surgery was undertaken. But in the end I had a Subacromial Decompression procedure.

As you explained to me, this is an operation to make more space under the bony arch above the shoulder joint where important tendons pass. Before the operation there was not enough space under this arch and the bones and tendons were rubbing against each other. The tendon was overloaded and in time became thickened and weakened.

I believe it’s a condition that can typically come one with a lot of repetitive overhead movements like in swimming.

Dave: In what ways did you find the  Physiotherapy  helped you recover after the operation?

Matt: Dave was a great help in aiding my speedy recovery by helping me to set realistic strengthening goals and not overload me too early with too many exercises.

Ultimately, I also appreciated the time he took to focus on what Physiotherapy exercises would specifically help improve strength for my long distance swimming in the longer term.

Dave: How are you getting on now and have you achieved your goals?

Matt: I had my operation in late January 2016 and I was back swimming competitively in summer 2016 – about 8 months of hard work, carefully guided by Dave!


Sourced from Amphibian open water challenge

Sourced from Amphibian open water challenge

Dave: Do you feel confident you can keep your shoulder fit for the future?

Matt: I am significantly more confident with my shoulder strength now – to a stage where I don’t think twice to do an activity which I previously might have thought would strain it.

I will continue to see Dave and the physio team on a quarterly basis to ensure that my recovery is maintained.


If you are suffering with a shoulder injury or facing shoulder surgery and would like to book a Physiotherapy appointment click here or call us on 020 8876 5690.