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Old 11-07-2005, 06:23 PM   #1
LovesBassets's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Massachusetts
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S/C/G: 230/218/170

Height: 5'4"

Question My shoulders are disintegrating (a cry for help from a vet tech)

I'm hoping there's at least one weight-training vet tech or vet assistant out there who can help me out with this. And if you're not a tech, please help anyway...my shoulders are collapsing . It's a two-part question...

Dear Fellow Vet Techs,

I need help figuring out which weight training exercises are most beneficial to us. Meaning, those that help to increase the strength we need when lifting (and more importantly) restraining BIG dogs. It's obviously going to be a focus on shoulder, upper back, and bicep work, but does anyone have any specific exercises that they do that have helped with lifting and restraint? Is there a webpage or something out there that lists beneficial exercises for techs?


Dear Everyone Out There Who Lifts,

Here's one specific problem I've had lately -- and anyone who can give me help with this can have my first-born child or the first million $$ I make, whichever comes first .

Last Thursday, I was restraining a very strong Golden Retriever on the table as the vet drained a cyst on his belly. I was in the normal restraint position for a dog that needs to stay standing; meaning my left arm was up at a slightly-more-than-90-degree angle from my shoulder, bent at the elbow, and wrapped around the dog's chest. My right arm was under his belly and wrapped up around the other side of him (I hope that makes sense). The goals being: (1) don't let him fly forward and jump off the table, and (2) keep him standing up despite his desire to sit or lie down. This Golden was 95 lbs if he was an ounce. And I was in that position for 45 minutes. And as you can imagine, he was struggling for a good portion of that time -- after all, who wouldn't struggle if some guy was poking at them with a needle for 3/4 of an hour? Plus, I think he was getting really very bored. I know I was .

Anyway, I got home and could barely use my left shoulder (or my right wrist, for that matter) for about 24 hours... Now, I've been weight training for 3 years, so I'm no weakling. But what MORE can I do to strengthen (particularly) my shoulders? IS there an exercise that can improve one's ability to hold their arm out at a slightly-more-than-90-degree angle?

And just to make this all a bit more interesting...I tore my rotator cuff about 10 years ago. And didn't know it. And then a year or so later, the pain was so bad that I finally went to a doctor who shrugged and said, "Just don't use that arm anymore" (nice). Needless to say, it didn't heal properly... .

Any tips before I start cruising the internet to find a doctor who'll perform a bionic shoulder transplant?


First Goal: 200 lbs by Namibia trip (May 26, 2013).

Last edited by LovesBassets; 11-07-2005 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:37 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 35


Hi! First, I wanted to tell you I love your posts -- you're always SO funny

Hopefully I can help you out.
Since you're dealing with big dogs (45+ lbs), here's what I'd recommend to strengthen your shoulders. As with any weight training exercise, take your time on working up to the heavier/heaviest weight you can, otherwise you'll risk really screwing up your shoulders.

Lateral Arm Raises - (a) Stand up, and keep your arms at your side. With a barbell in each hand (try starting with 5 lbs or so), raise your arm - keeping it straight - directly in front of you. Try to do three-four sets of 10-12 reps.
(b) same as (a), except bring your arms to the side -- so that when your arm is up, it is at a right-angle from your body (you'll look like an upside-down "L", if that's any help ) -- also, do three-four sets of 10-12 reps.

Military Dumbell Press - Sit on a weight bench, with a barbell in each hand. Raise them up, over your head, with both arms at the same time. I usually tap the weights together over my head. As usual, 3-4 sets, 10-12 reps.

Dumbell Fly-Aways - Lay on a weight bench on your back, barbells in each hand. Bring them down to your side (your hand should be closed, palm facing you) down, and up -- it's similar to a bench press.

-- Also, you might want to think about bench pressing and doing shrugs with weights to help build up a little more muscle in your neck/pecs/etc...

If you need any help, just PM me -- I hope this was useful to you!! Also, if my descriptions weren't too hot (which they likely weren't, haha... ) you can either ask more to me, or google the exercises.

Good luck!!

stg1: 155 (25 bmi) -> april 10
stg2: 146
stg3: 137
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:48 PM   #3
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Location: West Chester, PA
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Sorry to disagree with the previous poster, but I think bench presses are about the worst thing you can do for your shoulders, especially if they are already damaged. The rest of the lifts should be fine, but I expect that you are already doing them.

If you are in pain now or if lifting is painful, I think you should work on rehab before you tackle strength. Start with internal and external rotator cuff exercises with light weights. Three to five pounds are usually about right. Here's a link showing rotator cuff exercises.

I'd suggest one more: Farmer's walk with progressively heavier dumbbells. Just grab the heaviest you can hold for 45 seconds, and walk around.

Avoid behind the neck military presses or any behind the neck work (lat pulldowns). Avoid "Arnolds" where you twist the dumbbells while doing an overhead press. They are murder on sore shoulders and damaged rotator cuffs. Also, uprights rows can be hard on rotator cuffs, depending on where the damage is. Bench dips can be really painful and injurious depending on where your problems are.

OK, now for what you can do! Work on back and chest and rear delts as well as just shoulders, so that you can use your whole body and not just rely on the notoriously unstable shoulder joint.

Find a chiropractor or massage therapist who does "active release therapy". I thought it was voodoo at first, but my previously torn rotator cuff that was full of painful scar tissue is normal now, and I have full range of motion after not having it for 10 years.

Stay away from barbells and machines! they force you into a hand position which may not be friendly to your shoulders or wrists. Dumbbell chest presses are wonderful; barbell bench presses destroy shoulders! Machine overhead presses can damage your shoulders as well as strengthen them- use dumbbells.

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