Broken Clavicle :(

Hi there!

I broke my clavicle last Thursday and I am needing some stories of recovery to set my mind at ease.

I realise this is probably the best possible time of year to break it as I don’t have any events planned until the crit season restarts in April.

I think I will be off the trainer for the next 3 weeks and then I will start SSB1. Hoping I won’t have lost too much fitness as last Tuesday I did a ramp test and finally hit 4w/kg!

Cheers guys!

Broke mine 8 weeks ago, crashed during a training ride avoiding a car turning in front of me. 5 days in hospital with collapsed lung. Started easy indoor trainer rides 2 weeks after the crash. Subscribed to TR 3 weeks after the crash, and now finishing sweet spot base. Went to physio therapy for a few weeks which helped. Mobility and strength returning now. Hospital said my fracture was “not remarkable”. Now back to swim, bike and run training.

If it’s just the clavicle & it’s not displaced too much (no surgery required) I would be back on the trainer in less than three weeks. I broke mine on the 9th & was back on the trainer by the 22nd. By week three things feel pretty good on the trainer.

Now, if you require surgery, that’s different. I would say it took a longer time to get back on the bike after surgery but once I was back it was solid because it was held in place by a titanium caterpillar. Or if you broke ribs along with the clavicle. Ribs are tougher to come back from for me.

Also I would not ride outside for 6 weeks at least.

I broke mine in August 2016…also broke my scapula and five ribs. I had surgery to fix it. My doctor was a cyclist and told me to get on the trainer as soon as possible to keep the blood flowing. Broke it on Saturday, surgery on Monday, rode the trainer on Saturday although I just spun for the first week before I started doing aerobic rides like Homer’s Nose and Baxter. Was back riding outside in 6 weeks.

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hmm ok I can’t imagine getting on the trainer next week as I’m still in agony today!
Might take some persuading for the missus to let me on there haha!

I’ve done both sides, twice. All racing. The orthopaedic surgeon and I get along great! :slight_smile:

Every break is different. Every recovery is different. I’ve just dragged out my FAQ I send people who ask… Some of it won’t be relevant if you’re not in Melbourne, Australia. I’ll leave it in because I’m too lazy to remove it. Anyhow, here it is:

*Disclaimer. I’m no expert, I’m just very well experienced with all things collarbone, radiology, and recovery.

My surgeon: Martin Richardson - One of the best around for the job. He’s either operated or overseen my four collarbone breaks.

His consulting rooms are at Epworth Richmond. He works from either there or Epworth Box Hill.

Now, for general collarbone advice:

Surgery is safe, quick, and gets you mobile immediately. Scaring is minimal, next to invisible if you really look after the healing. My wife (Von) looked after hers, can hardly see the mark. I didn’t care too much and was always on the indoor trainer within two days working up a sweat under my bandages, so my scars didn’t get the best chance of healing. Plus they tell a good story, or two, or four! :slight_smile:

Every break is different, so the solution is different too.

  • A pin is used if it is a clean break in the middle (the pin stays in).
  • A top plate and screws are used if it is little more complicated than a break in the middle (the plate/screws can be removed later, optional).
  • A hook plate (the worst of the three options!) is used if the break is a distal fracture and displaced quite a bit. These hooks are nasty, will limit movement of the shoulder, and do have to come out.

Google image searching the three surgery methods will show the differences between them.

“Natural healing” is, in my opinion, the last option. Only good when the break isn’t displaced very much, or is a distal break held together by the tendons in the area. If the break is displaced and they want to ‘wait for it to heal’ the patient will have to put up with pain, the feeling of the bone clicking around for a week or two, and very very very limited movement. This makes for terrible sleeping, showering, life in general. If the bone does knit itself without surgery, there will be a lump/bump on the clavicle.

My most recent break was operated on a Friday and I was racing on the following Wednesday. Not recommended, but shows the difference between ‘natural healing’ vs getting back on with normal life.

Basic health insurance cover is fine with Martin’s work. His admin staff will check the level of cover and always strive to ensure the costs are minimal. My health insurance doesn’t cover overnight so they’re always getting me in at 6am for a same day discharge. They’re really great people! :slight_smile:

A good sling is a must. Orthopaedics Victoria have excellent ones with velcro. Request one! They’re ace.

Training/fitness wise. If pinned/plated, ergo sessions within a day or so. Best medicine for any injury I believe.

Hot tip on the strong pain killers - get laxatives. Lactulose is awesome. You’ll literally shit bricks if not, and that is worse than any broken bone! :slight_smile:


A quality sling / support is a must. Did mine in France 2 years ago, the NHS would have put me in a standard sling and you lose strength and mobility. In France they put me in this contraption that pulled my shoulders back made by Alteor. Could use the arm pretty much pain free and was on the rollers within a week. Kept the support in case I ever need it again :slight_smile:

Broke mine late April this year playing soccer. No surgery, just a sling. Jumped back on the trainer 5 days after (sitting up straight). Swam one handed 3wks after and finished IM Mont T in Aug.

First time fracture. Prob lucky, didn’t have any pain as long as I was wrapped up in a sling. (Tons of sleepless nights tho)

My experience was similar to the others. I went mountain biking again after 6 weeks, but it hurt. If i did it again, I’d be back on trainer in 2-3 weeks and not ride outside for 10 weeks though. Make sure it’s good and healed before potentially crashing again

Such a bummer! As you may know, Nate broke his collar bone a while back and we talked about it a couple times on the podcast.

Episode 84 talks about how to crashed: Stream episode Nate Takes a Tumble, Training After Your a Race, and Balancing Disciplines - Ask a Cycling Coach: 84 by TrainerRoad podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Episode 89 talks about how he went about training with a broken collar bone: Stream episode Nate's Training Update, Elevation Training, Heart Rate as a Metric - Ask a Cycling Coach: 89 by TrainerRoad podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Heal up quickly!


What timing. I broke mine 10 days ago. Luckily, it’s a non-displaced fracture and I just missed one day before getting back at it on the trainer. But I also broke my scapula last winter and was in a sling for 8 weeks. For riding, I got a cheepie sling from the drug store and strapped it to my torso tightly so that my arm couldn’t move at all. That was a life saver. I was riding (very easily) after 3 days and could do workouts again after 2 weeks. Nothing severe, but enough to not lose all fitness. I think I rode with the sling for 5-6 weeks, all told.

Nate broke his at the beginning of March, 2017, right in the middle of his season! Luckily for you, you have a while to heal and train before your next event! :slight_smile:

Unless one’s next event is cross…

Ah very true! That’s a bummer for sure… There’s always next year! Injury is part of the sport, unfortunately, and it happens to most people at one time or another. You just have take the time to heal up, keep training, and crush the next race you are able to do!

My question is for the folks who have had their breaks plated. Did you have the hardware taken out or did you leave it in? My surgery was over twenty years ago and I still have the metal. What did your doctor recomend? Did they mention any complications if you break it again while the plate and screws are still there?

P.S. Sorry to hear about your injury. Get well soon.

Cheers for the replies everyone. I did some sweet spot work on the turbo last night at about 95%. Felt great to be turning the legs again but it’s amazing how much more it hurts when you’ve been laying on the sofa, eating and feeling sorry for yourself for only a week!

Hopefully will get a couple CX races in around mid December and then start my progression towards the 2019 RR season!

Thanks again!

I had a distal fracture that required a hook plate. Hook plates limit range of motion and my surgeon said they can cause complications in the future. He said hook plate removal is generally recommended except in the case of elderly patients where the risk of surgery outweighs the benefits of removal. The removal was easy compared to the installation!

For normal plates, my surgeon said removal is unnecessary and not worth the risks associated with surgery unless it causes pain/discomfort/etc.

At the time I couldn’t find any studies that researched how old hardware could complicate repeat injuries. However, as an engineer, I would speculate the plate will stiffen the original fracture site and concentrate the stress of future impacts immediately distal or medial to the plate (i.e. near the screws). Additionally the screw holes will likely act as stress risers which could further increase the likelihood of a fracture. To be clear I am only experienced with the failure mechanics of engineering metals, and bones probably behave significantly differently. I am not qualified to give medical advice. However, I think it’s plausible that the plate may increase the likelihood of a future fracture to some degree (probably not a lot though). My surgeon recommended that the best way to protect my clavicle was to stop crashing my bike. :thinking:

I did mine in 2015 and still have the plate and screws in. Once fully healed it should be fine, I was told to be very careful during healing as a fall while it was still fractured would result in bent plate and shattered collarbone :nauseated_face:

I’ve heard that its less likely to brake again due to the metal protecting and strengthening it, however, if it does go again its going to make a mess :see_no_evil:

Not sure how true that is :man_shrugging:t3:

I also wonder if the the plate and screws would act as stress risers leading me to think that a future break my not be as clean as my first one. Its been so long since my surgery that I really don’t want to deal with going through it again.

Funny thing is I actually bent the plate while i was healing. Not bad, but it was obvious in the xrays. It’s amazing how forceful sneezing and coughing can be.