Rehab Round 2

Second pop, second shot of pain, second shoulder.

On Saturday February 20th, I subluxed my right shoulder during a half lengths workout here in Penrith. The experience was a déjà vu, a potential end to my 2015 season, and most importantly, a reality check.

A déjà vu of course from my dislocation ten months ago on the very same whitewater course while competing in the U23 World Championships. The feeling of having my shoulder “pop” and pain shoot up my arm was all too familiar. The trip to the hospital, ice bags, X-rays and sitting down one bed from ten months ago simply made the experience scarily similar. The Penrith course and I clearly have issues; However, It is far too much fun to paddle this course and as the prime winter training site for the national team there is no avoiding it. I think I’ve had enough injuries here and I’ll be paddling with great care in the future.

A potential end to my season was clearly on the table as I was first helped out of the water clutching my shoulder. Full dislocation in my right shoulder would have pushed me to make a hard decision: do I keep going? In that scenario I think the answer would have been no, I should stop. The end of my 2015 season would have come much too soon. With a sublux instead of a dislocation I am happy to sit in a grey area where I don’t have to make that decision yet. With a quick recovery and more proactive rehab than ever, I think that I can continue to compete competitively.

A reality check: this injury has made me look over my plan for the next year again and again. The biggest change I have to make for this season is my goal setting. Given the instability in my right shoulder to go with my left, my most important goal for 2015 is to put on muscle mass. Putting a few races on the sideline in order to log more time in the gym and focus on my nutrition is a compromise I am happy with. With my goals set on protecting my shoulders, results are no longer the priority. Performance is always desired, but at the end of the season if I can say I’ve improved the stability of my shoulders then I will have to be happy with achieving that goal.

Recover flatwater paddle 4 days post sublux

Recover flatwater paddle 4 days post sublux

The difference between a sublux and dislocation is a fine line. This was a close call that is making me see the next year from a different perspective. My rehab from the last year I believe helped make for a best case scenario and I’m taking that away as a positive.

As a last note: Thank you to Charles Correa & Anderson Oliveira for hopping out of their boat at a moments notice to help me out! Thank you to Eimear Cradock for helping me get back on flat water in four days. Thank you to my coach for remaining 100% optimistic. Thank you to Adrian Cole being a phenomenal teammate, and sticking it out in that hospital with me.

Paddle safe,

– L

author: Liam Smedley

Loves photography, outdoors tripping, crafting coffee & brewing kombucha. Frequently found in his hammock by the river.


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