When The Rotator Cuff Talks…

October 30, 2015

After nine days or so of paragliding school, I have to make a tough decision. My right shoulder is aching and I’m losing strength in my right arm when I raise it above 90 degrees. This is the same shoulder I had rotator cuff surgery on about 4 years ago. I really don’t want to stop flying, but I also don’t want to cause damage that will prevent me from riding.

So after 13 solo flights, including thermaling to cloudbase and ridge soaring, I have decided to stop. The rotator cuff is talking loudly and while I can mask the pain with medication, I’m afraid of continuing the damage. It’s time to listen to the rotator cuff. As always, when things are good and there is no pain, I ignore the opportunities to work out and strengthen my shoulder. When things get worse, I regret not being in better shape.

Suprisingly, l didn’t expect shoulder problems. I expected knee or ankle problems from hard landings. Although I had a few less than desirable harder landings, I had no problems with my legs. I think the shoulder probably would have fared better if I had realized in the first couple of days what I was doing wrong with my upper body during launching, fighting the wing instead of finessing it. My instructor tried to explain it, but it just didn’t sink in until too late.

Regardless, I had a great time at a great location learning to fly a paraglider. It’s something I definitely want to continue in the future, but I will be better prepared with my shoulder before taking it up again.

My current plan is to depart here tomorrow and head south. It will be tough to leave The Nest hostel at Colombia Paragliding. This place is very comfortable, with an incredible full breakfast (and an even bigger and better optional lunch), and you can sit on the porch and watch the paragliders all day.

I still have another week of exploring Colombia before entering Ecuador, which is obviously not enough time, but there are a number of great sites I want to see here.