Broken collarbone - impact on fitness

Hi all,
About 2 weeks ago I tripped over whilst running (Yes another good reason to stick to the bike!) and smashed my head on a concrete piller- 8 stitches in my head, nasty concussion and a broken collarbone/ clavicle (minimally displaced lateral break close to my shoulder).

Stitches are now out and concussion symptoms went after 4-5 days. For collarbone I was told to keep in a sling (no surgery needed) and I’m having it x-rayed 3 weeks after accident (so 1 week from now).

Seems to be healing not too bad, hardly any pain and getting more movement back.
I (much to my wife’s dismay) had 30 mins endurance with few 45 sec efforts at v02 level on boxing day (11 days after accident) and felt wiped out - should have been a piece of cake but breathing hard and couldn’t do last v02 effort.

If I go for a long walk I now need to have a nap after!

Now really worried about my fitness - it all seems to be disappearing, far more than I’d expect after 2 weeks off.

I’m 37 years old, 6ft 2, 74.5kg, ftp pre accident was 297w and done TR for about 2 years with good results last year.

Any tips or advice much appreciated on how to keep any fitness as likely to be in a sling for at least another 2 weeks.
Also would broken bone really make me so tired and make me struggle on an ‘easy’ 30 min trainer ride???

It could be from the broken bone, or from the concussion. Concussion can last much longer than the most obvious symptoms. In any case, sounds like your body is telling you to get more rest. The only thing that helps is patience. You’ll build fitness again much quicker when you’re fully healed.


This was covered on the podcast when @Nate_Pearson broke his. Essentially the body is using a ton of energy to repair the break so you may need to restrict intensity. I wouldn’t worry too much about fitness. Even if you can just do petit or Baxter repeatedly your loss won’t be that bad (and any top end loss will come back quickly).

Edit. Episode 89.


The problem is he can’t even do a low-intensity workout or go for a walk which to me suggests there is something else wrong (like the concussion).


Cheers guys. I did manage the low level workout but felt v puffed out during, it felt FAR harder than it should. I can go for a walk without issue, did 3-4 miles yesterday…but then needed a sleep in the afternoon. Never considered concussion still lingering, bit worrying!

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Found this for you to read (even though it says ‘avoid computer work’)

There’s also a link to the SCAT2 assessment protocol.

To be honest, I just wanted to emphasize the ‘taking it easy’ approach. If you get a chance to speak to a doctor, ask them about the concussion recovery too.

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Will have a look. Many thanks, really appreciate it.

It’s been two weeks since the concussion/fracture if I’m reading your post correctly. Some people might just call that a taper. :wink: Your body is ‘all hands on deck’ to heal the trauma it’s been through so that’s part of it. Also, after two weeks of inactivity it’s no surprise that you might start to lose some high-end fitness. VO2max might start to suffer a little…good news, though, it comes back fast.

Consider working out on one of those stationary recumbent bikes until you can safely get back on an upright. On a recumbent stationary you can pedal hard without worrying about putting pressure on your shoulder girdle. It’s non-specific but at least it gives you a chance to maintain some fitness while you heal. (and it’s a lot more specific than a treadmill or jogging)

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I had an accident in june. I broke my wrist and had AC joint separation (I needed 2 surgery). I wanted get back on the bike asap and It was a big mistake. I was sick all the time, I was just too weak for training. I undestood I have to focus on recovery process. So I quit trainig for about 2 months, I did my rehab, took a lot of walk, changed my diet (I started work with dietician).

I got back on the bike (trainer) 3 weeks ago. I lost a lot of fitness - my FTP was about 310 (weight about 72kg). Now: FTP is 250, the same weight. I started work with professional trainer (don’t take me wrong - trainerroad is great but sometimes - in extraordinary circumstances - individual training plan is better). I feel stronger week by week and I think I will be on the pre-accident shape in summer.

My advise: just focus on your health not on your shape at the moment.


I’m in a similar situation at the moment. I’ve broken my elbow and wrist 12 days ago. First few workouts on the trainer were a bit bonkers, sweetspot was super hard, heart rate at/above threshold levels and RPE was off the scale for the intensity.

Things have settled down though a bit, I’ve decided to take the time to take a step back and I’ve changed my target events to give me a bit more time (only a couple of weeks really) I’ve found a combination of zone 2 rides and progressive sweetspot workouts is now quite doable.

For the sweetspot workouts I’ve picked a wattage in the middle of the zone and have just progressed interval duration and checked that against heart rate using Pw:Hr and EF in Training Peaks, for the Z2 stuff I’ve been riding routes on Zwift and adding in 15mins extra each time, I already feel much better and am finding this approach whilst not actually building fitness is at least maintaining some aerobic base and gives me a way to measure improvement and set goals.

The two other things I’ve really concentrated on are eating a lot! And sleeping, I’ve been adding in a sleep in the afternoon as my night time sleep is disrupted due to pain, from when I injured myself to today the improvement has been astonishing really, I was expecting it to be much worse, but I’m convinced that taking a few days early on really easy and then being sensible has really helped.

I’ve also being taking Vitamin D and calcium/magnesium supplements.

Hope that helps and all the best for your recovery.

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In May of this year (19’) I crashed in a race and broke my clavicle, 4 ribs, and collapsed my left lung. The clavicle break was very bad and I now have 2 steel plates and 11 screws attached to it.

I got back on my trainer the day after surgery. 15 minutes at 100w and i was cooked. the next day i managed to do 30 minutes. For the next 3 weeks i did 30 minutes every day with the goal of getting a better average watts every day. If i managed 160 one day, i would shoot for at least 161 the next.

5 weeks out from the crash i got back on the bike outside for the first time.

4 months after the crash I did a 25 mile climb up Mt. Mitchell in SC.

During the whole recovery i was terrified that i would never get back the fitness i had before the crash. With some help from TR i now have my personal highest FTP, 7 months later. I’m 37 years old.

Stay steady, you will get it back

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Thanks all, the support is really heartwarming and helpful.

Think I was just shocked that although I feel totally fine in myself, how hard I found an easy 30 min workout and how much I’m sleeping (9hr a night straight through and short afternoon nap some days!)

It is 2 weeks tonorrow since it happens and have a hospital appointment in 1 week to make sure it is healing ok and I am hopeful to maybe get rid of the sling then too (maybe!)

Guess just give it bit longer off and keep up low intensity 30-45 min workouts couple times a week. Only just finished a 2 week off season and had done about a week or so of base training when I hurt myself.

Guess I just treat it as a prolonged off season and start base from scratch - my major A goal isn’t until mid October 2020 so plenty of time I suppose!

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If your A event isn’t until mid October 2020 then I really wouldn’t be worrying about doing anything other than low intensity at the moment anyway. In fact, a short break whilst your body heals is likely the most beneficial.

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I’m recovering from an AC Joint injury and initially made friends with Baxter, Andrew’s and the like, rather than doing any intensive workouts. Got to quite enjoy them and I think it was the right call to spare the energy for healing

A few years back I did the other AC Joint but got a decent concussion too after being knocked unconscious. I had not had one before and they can really screw up your life for an extended period of time if not looked after. Headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, loss of concentraion, irritability - so the list went on. All the advice I had was rest, sleep, limit screen time, and don’t over exert myself. Even then, it was close to 6 months before i felt right again.

On that note, I would be parking the VO2 max workouts until any potential symptoms have passed. Plenty of lower intensity gains to be had

BTW, my head hit the road real hard this time around too, but the MIPS helmet did it’s job. Wouldn’t ride without one

Always wear helmet whilst cycling…didn’t think needed one whilst running!!!:joy::joy::joy:

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Did 45 mins of Baxter today and felt fine, going to give any intensity at all a miss for a bit but pleased with today, even if only 45 mins.


“It takes a lot of energy to heal bones” was the best advise I got with a broken clavicle. So…Chillax.

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I feel for you and get well as fast as you can.

I crashed earlier this year and had a thread about how to manage fitness. It was about maintenance than gaining strength. Lots of sleep and taking vitamin D really help strengthen the broken bone (a scaphoid fracture).

Once your brain injury is better, things will move quickly. About ten years ago I ran into stainless wires meant to delineate ownership areas of a massive parking lot. Like twice the size of a Costco lot. I hit it at 24mph, and the bike didn’t move for 15 minutes afterwards. It’s all in the file. I never saw the wires and don’t even remember the incident. Taken to a hospital by an employee of a gym I wandered into yelling nonsense. He said the entire time I just kept asking him if I missed thanksgiving.

Broke a collarbone too.

Once I got the ok to ride it was 20-30 minutes on the trainer. Eventually it was 20-30 minutes on the trainer just balls out every day.

Come July, it was like it never happened.

If you’ve been training for a while, just think of the work you’ve done as roads that you built. Your time off means that grass and weeds are all over those roads but the roads don’t just disappear. Once you get going again the grass and weeds will disappear.


Really like this idea!
Been doing much better last week or so, thibk concussion effected me far more than realised at the time. Done few 60 min tempo (around 80-85% ftp) TR rides this week and been ok with arm in a sling. Worst part is other arm aching from taking all the weight!!!

Thanks for all support everyone, especially advice to take it careful and easy with the concussion - wise words indeed!

Although will likely lose fair bit of v02 high level stuff at least feel like I can maintain most of my core base level fitness with 60 min tempo stuff whilst it mends!