The human shoulder: a glorified butter churn.
Look down the MotoGP grid and you'll see two kinds of riders: those that have endured shoulder injuries and those that probably will at some point in their career. A quick off the top of the head list of past and present riders who have suffered a shoulder injury include Dani Pedrosa, Nick Hayden, Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow, Marco Melandri, Neil Hodgson, Eddie Lawson, Kevin Schwantz, Troy Bayliss, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner, Carl Fogarty, Colin Edwards, Nori Haga and Kenny Roberts Jr.
Four-time world champion Lawson raced for the world championship trying his best to avoid sneezing or coughing as each time he did so he risked popping his shoulder due to a damaged rotator cuff.
After adding his name to that list, American Ben Spies will return to MotoGP action this weekend at Mugello. Spies injured his shoulder last season in a crash and underwent major reconstructive shoulder surgery to repair it. Spies missed races last season because of the injury and rehab, and missed races in 2013 as he struggles to bring the injury back up to speed.
Generally, when a surgeon looks at your injury and feels the best course of action is to harvest tissue from a dead guy--Spies now has ropes of cadaver ligament in his shoulder--its a clear sign of a major injury and repair. Additionally Spies' surgeon installed several new anchor points in his arm to blend the old and new muscle together.
A soft-tissue shoulder injury can be one of the most painful rehab experiences a rider can endure. A common problem while a shoulder heals is the inability to lay down, making restful sleep almost impossible. After his shoulder injury, Valentino Rossi--through exhausted, almost lifeless eyes--estimated that he didn't sleep for more than an hour at a time during his first month of rehab.
Even in the pre-season it was clear from photographs of Spies riding the Pramac Ducati that all was not well with his body and that he may be riding too soon after having the joint rebuilt. Now, even with additional time devoted to having the shoulder rehabilitated, Spies probably still has a bit of a road ahead of him in terms of the shoulder returning to full strength.