Client interview: HIIT enthusiast, Rachel, recounts her recovery from an agonising shoulder injury

In this article, we have a detailed Q&A with our long-term client Rachel, who recently started a new case with us for a frozen shoulder suffered during a HIIT class. She talks us through her injury, recovery journey, and recovery motivation: her long-term goal to go on a surfing holiday.

Hi Rachel, may you provide a bit of background about yourself?

I’m Rachel, and I’m the Head of Development at a property company. I am usually very active, doing personal training sessions, yoga and cycle to work – but quite often I hurt myself from pushing things a bit too hard or just from job stress. I rely on Mike to fix me, before I go off and damage myself again!

The problem: frozen shoulder injury

Why did you go to Technique?

In February 2020, I injured my right shoulder during a HIIT class. Despite having an MRI the problem itself couldn’t be identified, so I was urgently given a steroid injection before getting on a plane back to New Zealand. Three days after arriving back in the UK, the country went into lockdown and I never managed to have any Physio. About 6 months after the steroid injection, my arm and shoulder gradually became more and more painful and movement was eventually so limited, I could not raise my arm without intense pain.

I have been seeing Mike at Technique on and off for about 10 years whenever I find my exercise regime or lifestyle has led me to intense pain – like a pulled calf muscle from hill walking, neck mobility issues due to stress etc. So, it was obvious that when the problem with my shoulder reached a point where I could barely lift my arm without intense pain, that I would seek his help.

What health/fitness issue were you experiencing?

The lack of treatment during lockdown, meant the injury became a Frozen Shoulder and following an assessment, I had lost about 70% (I think) strength in my right arm. I could not lift my arm above my head, so I realised it would be impossible for me to lift weights or swim well enough to continue with my planned holiday to learn to surf.

How did this issue effect your life?

I was in so much pain, I was having difficulty sleeping and I had to give up my usual personal training sessions.

What fitness or life goals did it stop you from achieving?

I stopped attending personal training sessions, as it didn’t seem worth it when I could not lift weights. This was one of my favourite stress relievers.

Was the health/fitness issue painful?

Yes, it was incredibly painful if I reached out for anything quickly and otherwise, it was just a constant dull pain in my shoulder while I sit at my desk.

How did having your life goals put on hold or in jeopardy make you feel?

The realisation that it was so bad that I couldn’t swim and wouldn’t be able to have more surf lessons, spurred my on to get help. I hope I will be able to go on a surf holiday at the end of 2021.

The solution: shoulder strength and movement exercise plan

During your time with Technique what did they do to fix the problem?

They analysed the movement and strength in my arm and then devised an exercise plan to build the strength back up and improve mobility. This was interspersed with (painful) massage sessions.

How did you find working with your physio whilst recovering with Technique?

After the first week of doing my exercise routine, I notice a considerable improvement in both the mobility and reduction in pain.

The results: returned shoulder movement and strength

What evidence is there that proves the issue is fixed?

No intense pain anymore and mobility has improved. I still have a way to go before I am as flexible as previously but I can see improvement week on week.

How does it feel to be fit/fitter or healthy/healthier again after your physio?

Great. I am not waking in the middle of the night with intense pain and I can reach into kitchen cupboards. I haven’t attempted lifting weights or swimming yet – but due to COVID, that will be a little while away anyway.

Can you continue progressing to achieve your fitness/life goal now? How does it feel?

I hope to go on a surfing holiday at the end of the year.