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Shoulder Surgery Recovery: Becoming ME Again

November 30th I went into out-patient surgery Downtown, Chicago. Under the care of Dr. Mark Bowen I was given a chance to fix my torn up and beat down shoulder. That shoulder endured a year of torment. Every few weeks there would be a series of races I showed up for, usually they came in spurts. The range of events included Spartan Race, GoRuck, S.E.R.E., Gladiator Assault Challenge and of course the Death Race. After all that racing in this vast variety of rigorous training, racing, and performing all with this one inch tear in my shoulder it was finally time to start over.

torn labrum shoulder surgery repairAfter shoulder surgery I was in an incredibly large amount of pain over the next 2-3 weeks. Numbing the pain was taken care of by my prescription which I avoided using as much as possible. Icing became my favorite activity of the day. It just felt so good every time I iced; I would ice up to 5 times a day. At first I worked from home. Eventually, I had to return to work and had to find a ride to and from. During this time period I was in a sling and was not allowed to move my elbow away from my side. My elbow was, as my doctor put it, “velcro’d to your side.” I was very protective of it the entire duration of my gimp-status.

torn labrum shoulder surgery rotator cuff recovery

My shoulder before the bandages came off.

Six weeks after surgery I started my road to recovery at Athletico in Bloomingdale, IL under the guidance of the best physical therapist I have ever worked with, Alysha. When I arrived at my first session I had not moved my shoulder much at all. The exception of course being all the arm circle pendulums I was doing every day per Dr. Bowen’s guidance. I could barley lift my arm, the muscle so tender and weak from having my labrum repaired and reattached to the bone. My range of motion was very limited, I felt weak and pathetic, barely able to put my own hoodie on and taking it off, even worse.

rotator cuff surgery recovery torn labrum

A selfie of my shoulder before the stitches were removed.

We went straight to work with a regimen of exercises and stretches that built on each other. Every week or two my therapy would evolve, more exercises, increased range of motion, isometrics, heavier weight, higher resistance, it was wonderful. Everyday activities became easier, eating, reaching something in the cabinet, brushing my teeth, all the activities we take for granted became so much more accomplishable. The chance to grow my strength and return to racing grows closer, and I’m hungry for it. After watching the Winter Death Race I felt revived and even more eager to get my shoulder back to normal.

My determination has helped lead me to being a few weeks ahead of schedule. The official day for me to begin adding in more strengthening exercises was Friday, February 22nd. I’m scheduled to conclude necessary therapy on March 14th. Unfortunately, due to the situation I am currently in with my insurance I had to stop seeing Alysha the last week of February. Starting March 1st I switched to at home therapy under the guidance of my mother. We have been utilizing an exercise plan developed by Alysha, she will also see me at least one more time for a consultation to evolve my program.

Every day I get a little bit closer to my goals and its always fun to celebrate small milestones, raising my arm above my head, lifting a 1lb weight straight armed out to my side, a couple weeks back I did a push-up and was ecstatic – there was a celebratory Facebook post even. This week I am up to 4lb weights for my straight arm exercises and I am even able to do 10 burpees now!

I have to say that this has been one of the more difficult life situations and lessons I’ve had to bare. Being hurt, injured, torn away from all that makes you happy, from your passion, your love, it’s painful. In so many ways these past few months have been very interesting. I went from basically not leaving the confines of my home often because I could not drive to earning my freedom to go anywhere again. Every time I reach a new milestone I know I am becoming me again, and that makes it all worth it.

66487_10151593964723132_1802583660_nMy race schedule is starting to be planned out now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am signed up for the Gladiator Assault Challenge again in Geneva, WI on April 13th and hopefully I’ll be ready for that. After that its back to Indiana for a Spartan Race Sprint on April 27th and 28th. The Death Race is coming up fast and I’ll have far less time to train for it this year but like Todd Seldak always says, “training is a crutch.”

I cannot thank Dr. Bowen and Alysha enough for all they have done for me. THANK YOU!

Recovery Workout 12-21-12

Today I had a some energy I needed to expel. As soon as I walked in my door I changed and went straight to the gym (my awesome basement) and decided EFF IT! This is my life and I need to live it and enjoy it regardless of this damn sling.

“Now that don’t kill me
Can only make me stronger”

“Work it harder, make it better,
do it faster, makes us stronger,
more than ever, never over,
Our work is never over.”

  • 30 Minutes Recumbent Bike
  • 3 sets of 5 – One Arm Burpees
  • 50 Sit-ups
  • 30 Leg Lifts
  • Right Arm Bicep Curls
  • Right Arm Military Press
  • Right Arm Rows

I’m lefty dominant so I figured who cares if I make my right arm a little stronger than the left during this period of recovery. There’s a first time for everything as the saying goes. I feel really good doing something active again, even if I only worked one side of my body.

Enjoy my ugly attempt at one arm burpees.

zucchini, chicken breast, broccoli, asparagus, veggiesAll followed by a healthy dinner consisting of chicken breast, asparagus, broccoli, and zucchini! Yum. Oh ya and guess what…the world didn’t end today. Cheers!



Surgery Recovery: Starting Over

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted anything and for good reason too.  As some of you may know I have had a torn shoulder (labrum) since the beginning of 2012.  Having already signed up for a plethora of races I opted to simply push through and finish.  This year has been a real eye opener for me, I learned that no matter what the circumstances the mind is incredibly powerful.  It’s been quite the ride and I’ve met a lot of inspiring individuals, I’m beyond thankful for everything that has happened in 2012, from completing my Trifecta (Spartan Sprint, Super and Beast), to finishing the Death Race, running my first marathon and being one of the first to race in the Ultra Beast (the first ever marathon distance obstacle race).  The year has been filled with monumental achievements that have only amplified my desire to help others live a happy, healthy, adventurous lifestyle.

Shoulder Surgery Anthony Matesi


Today I find myself starting over. November 30th I went into surgery to have my shoulder repaired by Dr. Mark Bowen.  When I first went to him to have my MRI results examined he was a bit shocked at how bad my shoulder was torn.  I remember him saying to me, “your shoulder is extremely bad for someone your age, no matter what you will need surgery eventually.” As the year progressed I was completely unable to do any standard chest or shoulder exercises. Yes, I chopped wood and climbed walls and competed until almost the very last month before surgery but I could feel my upper body becoming weaker by the day.  We decided together that it was better I have surgery sooner than later.

After surgery Dr. Bowen informed me that it was worse than he thought and just a scope wasn’t enough, he had to perform an full repair.  Thankfully the Doc has assured me that as long as I follow his instructions and care of myself throughout the recovery process I will be back to normal.

shoulder surgery torn labrum full repair

Post Surgery

The first two weeks were very challenging. I was restricted to always wearing a sling and since I’m left-handed I no longer had access to my dominant arm. Eating, drinking, brushing my teeth, taking a shower, everything became a challenge.  It’s amazing how our body allows us to adapt in these situations. After the first two weeks I went in for my follow-up appointment and everything checked out a-okay. Dr. Bowen gave me three to four more weeks of wearing the sling when I go outside and when I sleep, otherwise I just have to keep my elbow metaphorically Velcro’d to my side. Basically I’ve become a partial T-Rex.  It’s all good though every day I continue to do my extremely basic exercises and I can see improvement.

The past few weeks have taken their toll on me however. I’ve found myself feeling very tired, partially due to restless nights and uneventful days. I’ve been working from home which is convenient but very boring when you are by yourself 90% of the time.  I decided today that this lethargic state of being had to be put to rest. I got off my ass, out of my bed and off the couch, took it downstairs to my basement and hopped on the recumbent bike. I knocked out a nice 30 minutes on the bike and then continued on to a short ab and leg workout to get things back in motion.


  • 30 Minutes Recumbent Bike
  • 100 Bosu Ball Air Squats
  • 100 Sit ups
  • 100 Leg Lifts
  • 100 Supermans (with frequent holds)

As expected my endurance is completely shot to hell, but our bodies have an amazing sense of memory. I am confident that with some consistency I will be back to my normal self in no time. The plan for now is to ride the bike often, work the abs, legs, and core as much as possible and start physical therapy in two to three weeks. It’s all about finding a happy medium. I’m feeling very excited that I’m back in action and can already tell that my body is responding very well to the exercise. I expect my energy levels should come back within a week.

This is just another obstacle in the game of life and I’m ready to jump, climb, and tackle it from every direction necessary.  I may be starting over, but that’s okay. It’ll all be worth it. This is just another beginning.


2 Pairs of Shoes. 2 Laps. One Trail – Workout of the Day 4-16-12

Today I set out to play on another new trail for me, my good friend Jon told me about while I was visiting him for his Marathon this past weekend. The trail is within a 10 minute drive from my house so I headed out as soon as I got home from work. The plan for tonight was to run this trail path twice, first using my new Cascadia’s and then right after using my Minimus Trails. Going into it I thought I was going to really struggle on the second round, not only was I going from a much more cushy shoe to a minimalist but I’ve already ran the past two days, a third day of running in a row is a little out of the norm for me.

First Lap

The first lap went by fairly quick, the course was just shy of an even 4 miles and my favorite thing as of late was present for today’s journey, HILLS! Yes this trail had a nice share of very gradual inclines and several steeper inclines as well. Nothing too high but definitely enough to make a difference. As of late I have noticed that my hill speed has been improving and tonight was no different, I found myself naturally increasing my speed as I went UPhill. The motion of my legs was so natural, I just start shufflin’ faster as I hit the hills. It’s just nice to know that instead of my old slow down at the hills, I’m starting to see my ability to push up them with a little oomph finally coming around. Half of this trail was a man made trail made out from a fine gravel and overall very smooth, the other half was a more natural trail created by mother earth. The second half was a lot less smooth and gave me some varied turf which is great for strengthening ankles, calves, and quads for sure.

Second Lap

After I finished the first round, I swapped my Cascadia’s out for what has become my favorite running shoe, my New Balance Minimus Trails, while I was lacing up I had doubts that I was actually going to go do another 4 miles, my legs were already a little sore and my shin splint in my right leg was irritated as it was most of the first lap. Regardless, I set off and told myself to go as long as possible and don’t give up, just give it all! That’s just what I did too! I pushed, and the first thing I noticed as I started hittin’ the trail was how weird it feels to go from one shoe to the other. I felt off but within a quarter mile it was business as usual. I was pleasantly surprised to realize it didn’t hurt as much once I was in my NB’s. I really do love how light they are, it’s a dramatic difference you can feel within seconds. I ended up finish the second loop in almost exactly the same amount of time as I did the first loop. The results of this were not as I expected, I was more than sure I was gonna drag ass the second time but I proved myself wrong, which is one of the greatest feelings. Being able to go beyond what you expect to do is what it’s all about. Diggin’ deep and going that extra mile. 8 miles, check!

When I got home, I wasn’t done. I went straight to the basement for a classic weights workout.

  • 3 sets of 6 reps bench press – 3 grips, regular 1st set, close 2nd set, and wide 3rd set (low weight and reps because my shoulder is still healing)
  • 30 v-ups
  • 3 sets of 10 reps peck deck
  • 100 toe raises
  • 100 toe jumps
  • 100 bicycles
  • 25 medicine ball push ups
  • 3 sets of 10 reps tricep pull downs with the rope
  • 50 calf raises
  • 1 minute plank with feet on medicine ball
  • 10 medicine ball push ups

To finish off this wonderful night of gettin’ my fitness I spent some quality time with my best friend Mr.  Foam Roller. Remember to always focus on your stretching and recovery activities just as much as your workouts. As you know, a healthy body and a healthy mind result in a a happy life 🙂

Workout of the Day 2-20-12

When I got home from work today I realized I forgot to drop of my new prescription I just received from my doctor to help with my shoulder injury I’ve been suffering from for over a month now. DAMMIT! Quick thinking remedied this tedious task that was about to cut into my workout. Solution you ask? Run to the pharmacy, drop off the script, run home. It actually worked out perfect too because when I arrived and dropped off the script I was informed they had to have insurance speak to the doctor because of some sort of regulatory non-sense. No biggie, the doctor gave me some samples to hold me over anyways. So I quickly left and ran back to my house completing a total of 2 miles round trip.

As soon as I got back I headed down into my personal Lifetime Fitness in my basement. As you know I don’t use weights much these days and tonight was no different. I started off by doing 30 burpees. Followed the burpees up with 50 swiss ball sit-ups, another 30 burpees. Then I did some medicine ball single arm switch-up push-ups. At least that’s what I’m calling them. To make this easier on myself I shot a quick YouTube video. I did 3 sets of these, doing 10 push-ups on each side. So one push-up on each side counts as one rep. These push-ups utilize plyometrics and implement a more challenging element to your workouts.

I followed the push-ups with another set of 30 burpees. And to finish the workout I did 50 russian twists with the medicine ball.

Workout Summary:

  • 2 Mile Run
  • 3 sets 30 burpees
  • 50 Swiss Ball sit-ups
  • 3 sets 10 medicine ball switch-up push-ups
  • 50 Russian Twists with medicine ball

Review: Innerzyme Pain & Inflammation Blend

Pain & Inflammation Blend

Over a month ago I sustained a fair amount of injuries… I needed to heal from said injuries with as much haste as possible so I could make my appearance at the inaugural Tundra Challenge. For all my life I have been able to recover from most of my injuries at a faster rate than whatever the doctor predicts for my recovery time.  All the injuries healed fairly quick, with the exception of two, my right knee and my left shoulder (specifically the rotator cuff).

Around the time of the injury I had been talking with a friend from way back in my grade school days about her new enzyme based supplement business she had started.  After reading up on what she had to offer and talking with her a bit I asked her if she could send me the Pain & Inflammation Blend to help me not only with the injuries I was suffering from but also with hopes of being able to speed up the recovery between workouts.

As soon as I received the blend I began taking the tablets as instructed, 4 tabs daily. The suggested usage is 4 tabs daily, and depending on severity up to 8 tabs per day. Personally I don’t find it necessary to ever take that much of a supplement so I stuck with the 4 tabs on an empty stomach with water every morning right when I woke up. For the past 5-6 weeks I have been taking these tablets as soon as I wake in the mornings. I should also point out that I take a variety of vitamins and I have at least one protein shake per day. These new tablets were in addition to all the other nutrients and vitamins I already consumed on a daily basis. I’m lucky that I don’t have a problem swallowing pills because with the addition of these I am up to around 10 or so tablets every morning. The size of these tablets is not unbearable at all, I take all four at once, they are approximately the same size as your standard multi-vitamin.

After taking this supplement for the past month or so I am happy to finally report some of my findings. A few things that I really like about this supplement is you can take it on an empty stomach. One of the biggest problems I sometimes have with any kind of vitamin or supplement is the stomach cramps that can come when consuming them on an empty stomach, never had an issue with the Pain & Inflammation Blend.  I also believe that my recovery time from one workout to the next was much quicker. Typically when I finish one of my workouts the next day will be a bit painful but its really that second day after the workout that has its way with me and drops me into the fetal position. After 2 weeks of taking the Innerzyme tablets I was feeling fantastic not only the next day but that second day of doom as well.

On top of the speed recovery times between workouts that I began seeing, I was also able to monitor and recover from some nasty knee inflammation that I was experiencing. I took some breaks here and there from running but really never completely had to stop or anything like that. Today I was able to run without any signs of the inflammation and it felt wondertastic!

Okay so I’m not trying to tell you this is some kind of miracle supplement or that it’s going to cure whatever pain you may be suffering from right now, but I will tell you this, I strongly believe that it helped shorten my recovery and helped to keep me active while I was recovering. Those two things make me believe that it is completely worth trying!

If you’re interested in more specifics about this enzyme based supplement head over to Innerzyme‘s website and do your research.

Active Recovery and Injury Rehabilitation/Prevention

Every day does not need to be an extraordinarily difficult, balls-to-the-wall, superhero workout. Sometimes it’s good to take slow things down, and isolate the areas that need the most attention to prevent any serious injuries from arising. I’ve been nursing a few myself for over a month now. I’ve mentioned my right knee being a bit troublesome a.k.a. “a little bitch” and my right rotator cuff has been nagging me. I’ve been using lots of Tiger’s Balm, Biofreeze, and the sort on the shoulder. It has been improving however it still needs plenty of rehab exercises to strengthen it back to 100%. This became very evident to me while I was using a measly 5lb dumbell to do side and lateral raises as well as rotational movements. This along with some band exercises helped out a lot tonight. I’ve also mentioned before that I’ve been taking Innerzyme’s Pain & Inflammation Blend (review coming soon).

I also focused on my core/abdominal section tonight by doing 100 slow swiss ball sit-ups followed by 100 quick swiss ball sit-ups. A few other exercises I did included reverse bench press pull-ups. I’ll do my best to describe this incase its not clear, what I do is set the bar on my smith machine to a little higher than arm lengths away from the floor. I lay down and grab the bar and place my feet on a swiss ball. From there I lift my self up toward the bar keeping my entire body in a solid flat line. This works the back, arms and core. I did sets of these with wide grip, reverse grip, standard grip and close grip.


Another set of core exercises that I did was a series of Muay Thai kicks, grabs, and knee strikes. I find these movements are good for hitting a little bit of everything since you stay on your toes and involve most of your body in the movement.

The last set of core exercises were decline pushups. Simply place your feet onto a raised object and use push-up bars to give yourself an extra few inches of descent. [See attached images] The key here it to again keep very straight solid lines. You do not want to allow your ass to get all up in the air or to sag down low, squeeze your ass and your abs to prevent this.

Two last areas that I focused on were my wrists as well as my calves/shins. For the wrists I used 5lb weights to do a variety of movements in each direction. I did a few sets of each. Now for the calves ands shins, I was starting to feel the onset of a shin splint not too long ago, hence the lack of running lately, to help strengthen the surrounding muscles and prevent it from getting worse I have been doing lots of toe raises for the shins and calf raises to balance things out. With all exercises its about balance. This is no different. Tonight I did significantly more than normal over 150 each but something I very much want to stress do this stuff whenever you can. These are exercises you can do all the time almost anywhere. I try to do a the bare minimum a set of 30 each day.

Remember take care of your body… know when to take it easy and focus on some of the smaller areas that don’t always get as much attention as they should. Our bodies are very complex, we tend to get over zealous in developing all our primary muscles groups but we must remember that our joints, smaller muscles, ligaments and tendons all need to have time to strengthen and develop. So go out there grab some smaller weights or some bands and get to work! Oh and of course, don’t think I forgot the Holy Quadruplet of Rehabing, RICE, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Seriously that shit works. 🙂

One last thing…I swear, two words. Foam. Roller.

A Little This Plus A Little That Until We Reach 300

This is one of my many combinations that add up to 300 inspired from the old 300 Workouts. I haven’t done one of these in over a year. For time:


  • 25 pull-ups
  • 50 bosu ball squats with weight
  • 50 “floor wipers” (a core and shoulders exercise at 135 pounds)
  • 50 burpees
  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 dips
  • 25 more pull-ups — for a total of 300 reps

My shoulder hated me a bit after this but I think the strengthening my shoulder will receive from it outweighs the pain. I didn’t over exert kept it within reason.

My healthy post workout dinner for the night was delicious and nutritious. Power Greens Salad (very leafy included spinach romaine, etc) with minimal Tuscan dressing and cucumbers, half a chicken sausage, green beans with almonds, and macaroni and cheese (low fat) with white Albacore tuna in water. All served with a glass of Odwalla Superfood. Mmmmm!

New Domain Live

I’m excited to announce that the new domain launched successfully today! I’ve transfered everything over from the old wordpress blog and was able to easily import old posts to the new host. I’ll be tweaking the site often. Tonight I will be trying to catch a few more z’s than normal for it is a well known fact that sleep helps us recover and grow. I also spent some time working on the first challenge presented to me as part of the Death Race, hopefully we’ll see a positive outcome in the near future. Stay tuned

Workout of the Day 2-1-12

Okay first I want to just say this, I love Chicago and I know what that means in regards to how unpredictable our weather tends to be, however, this warm then cold then warm bullshit is really starting to interfere with my training. I went for a nice run tonight which wasn’t too bad I mixed it up between running on asphalt and grass but when I got to the trail I like to run I had to be smart and turn away. The damn ground is one giant ice patch with bumps a plenty. Not safe to even try to navigate across. I’d rather run through snow. I’m done venting.

gettin' down and dirty

So tonight I completed a nice 4 mile run pace was average nothing special did some sprint intervals for about 1.75 miles. The rest of the time I maintained a steady pace. My knee is acting up more than I thought it would be by now. The plan for now is to continue icing and doing rehab exercises for it, if it gets worse I’ll have to consider seeing a doc but so far its not at that point.

After the run I grabbed my big tire an strapped two ropes to it, dragged it all the way through the retention pond down the block from my house. About 3/4 of the way across I hit a nasty mud patch, started slipping a bit. I then turned around and finished up with one arm flips of the tire back to my house alternating arms. Made for a fun evening.  Time to crash into my pillow head first. To all good night