Broken Kneecap and Tibia

Hi all,
This morning while cycling to work the wheel of my MTB got caught in a signalling light that sits in the middle of the cycling path (what an idea), right before a chicane double bend surrounded by two huge blocks of concrete. I hit one of the blocks with my front wheel and fell to the ground breaking my right kneecap and vertically fracturing my tibia. Luckily, my helmet protected my head and I only lightly scratched it without any major impact. But I will be off the bike for quite some time. I guess two months, but I would appreciate it if any of you had any insight whether this could be longer or shorter. I am also wondering how much I should eat now that I am going to be sitting all day. I usually use my fitnesspal to compute my sedentary caloric need (1750kCal/day approx), the I add whatever my power meter tells me Ihave spent on the bike plus other estimates for walking and other activities. At first I thought I would have to eat only 1750kCal/day now that I am going to be sendetary to maintain weight, but I’ve read several articles that suggest I should increase my intake by approx 20% to account for the recovery process. I would appreciate any insights you guys may have on this.



A couple of quick thoughts…but first, best wishes for a speedy and full recovery. Sounds like a nasty crash.

  1. Don’t worry too much about gaining weight…you are going to, it is inevitable. Just accept it and don’t stress. It will come off once you start riding again. (Obviously don’t use this as an excuse to gorge yourself either).

  2. I fractured my tibial plateau about 30 years ago…complete non-weight bearing for 6 weeks, IIRC. It will all depend on how your fractures heal. Listen to your doc and don’t push it. Patience is not a strong suit for endurance athletes, but it will be your best ally for the time being.

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Thanks for your reply.
I am ok with gaining a bit, but not too much as I am getting married at the beginning of May. If all goes well, I should be off my cast by then, and I would like my suit to fit me ;).
I think I will pay close attention to getting enough nutrients: in particular calcium, protein, and iron. But I will try to follow the 1.2xsedentary guideline and see how it goes from there.

As soon as I feel better, I will take this opportunity also to work out my upper body a bit. My future wife has a cheap under-the-desk pedaling station that doubles as an arm ergometer. The doctor told me I could do this without issues.

Heal up quick. Injuries suck both physically and mentally. I’m dealing with 2 broken bones in my hand right now and just getting back into serious training after the accident in early Jan.

I shattered my kneecap back in 2017 (displaced into multiple pieces and locations, screws, mesh, the whole works). When injured, the hard part for me is the wait until I can start rehab. It can be very mentally tough sitting around with limited activity when you are used to being active. I just try to remind myself that I’ll heal eventually and I should be grateful it wasn’t worse. Once I can start rehab and have goals to reach, I feel like myself again even if I’m painfully slow and out of shape. With my kneecap, I was able to start rehab within a month or so and my weight was pretty steady (lost a lot of muscle in that leg and put on some fat). Err on the side of more food, it takes a lot of resources to heal bones. Sitting around with bones healing is more work than just sitting around.

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During bone healing process, your calorie needs will be significantly higher. There is no way to calculate this increase. So I suggest just eat intuitively, as long as you feel full.

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I feel for you. I was practicing mountain bike skills in my front yard yesterday, prepping for my first race in a month. Weight and power are great and I wanted to take advantage to the warm midwest day. While practicing bunny hops, my left foot came unclipped and planted in the ground awkwardly. My knee buckled and I am sure if anyone saw it, they would have puked. Cannot bear weight, super swollen, and in a decent amount of pain. Awaiting MRI results. As soon as I did it, my first thoughts were “how much weight am I going to gain and how much power am I going to lose.”

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Focus on eating nutrient dense foods and you won’t have to worry about gaining weight, slowing the healing process or being hungry (IMO).

I broke my leg early in the season about 5 years ago when I felt my fitness was reaching a new high point. I was concerned I would lose a lot over the 8 weeks my leg was casted up but tried to focus on healing and eating well and the other things I could control e.g. getting good sleep etc.

When the cast came off it was scary how much that leg had atrophied, but equally impressive how fast the muscle and fitness came back.

Stay positive and best of luck getting back on the bike.

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How long did it take you to regain muscle and fitness once you took off the cast?

I broke my kneecap when I was younger and I remember it taking about 6 weeks of complete leg immobilization before I was allowed to start some movement exercises. By that point my left was very atrophied and I recall some brutal pt sessions, but it was back to normal in about a month I think. I imagine my now older body would maybe take a little longer to heal?

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well I am going to be 48 in a month. So I guess it might take a bit longer, but your story is encouraging!

Oh no…in the short term rest and heal up. I’m 56 and 2 1/2 years ago I broke my kneecap. My leg was in a brace for 8 weeks and the doctor allowed me to open up the pivot after 4 by 10 degrees every week until it came off at 8 weeks with 40 degrees of movement. The hardest part was getting the range of motion back. My leg had atrophied and it took a long time to build it back. But I did.

The brace was removed in September of that year and I was able to do my MTB race the following January. While I was far from first I wasn’t last either.

You’ll get through this!

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