Broken Rib Leading to High Heart Rate?

Quick background for context. Swimmer since I was 8, got into endurance, open water swimming in my 30’s (2K - 10K swims) and moved into triathlon in my 40’s. I ended my 2018 triathlon season in late July and went straight into mountain biking on the trails with no trainer rides. On September 29 I broke my rib in bad crash during a 100K MTB race here in Southern California. I spent week 1 in full recovery, week 2 started including long walks, week 3 back on the trainer doing easy TR workouts like Petit, and week 4 I started into my middle distance triathlon base plan.

I’ve noticed something very strange with my heart rate. It’s been around 15 beats higher across the scale with my normal resting heart rate of 38 now sitting around 52 and during threshold and VO2 workouts I’ve had to stop and back-pedal often just to bering my HR down as it begins to climb very quickly within each interval. In terms of heart rate, “easy” is now tempo and all the way up to where threshold is now VO2 and even anaerobic. Once my HR pins at max, I’m forced to stop pedaling to bring my HR down after which I get back into it. I do this over and over within every workout.

Question: Is a this normal heart rate response to having to recover from the broken rib or have I lost all my conditioning when I moved away from the trainer and completely onto the trails? If it’s a result of the broken rib recovery, should I back off of all hard training sessions and keep them very easy until I fully recover? How long should I expect my heart rate levels to be so elevated?

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Normal. You lose some fitness plus your body is still repairing damage and using energy to do that. You are likely not sleeping well either along with “guarding” the injury area. Even if not aware of doing so.

All of that adds fatigue well above normal.

Do make sure you are doing the breathing exercises. Infection is a huge problem post rib or thoracic type injury.

Recent experience - I broke two ribs and did a ton of other soft tissue and muscle damage mid-august. It took about 4 weeks before I felt comfortable getting on the trainer and several more before I could do any kind of real work. Am back to feeling pretty good finally but my heart rate is a good 15-20 beats higher than where it should be for the level of effort when on the bike. It’ll come down as fitness comes back so not a worry and actually a pretty good metric to follow.

Take your time, heal properly, your fitness will come back and you’ll be better than ever before you know it.


I cracked three ribs in a bike accident back in the middle of September. After two weeks I noticed the same thing when I started back into training. It took about another 2 weeks to get back to normal

Thank you both off you for great feedback. Look like I just need to be patient and just keep at it. It’s nice to know that how I’m feeling is normal.

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Not just ribs, but any broken bone can cause increased heart rate. Broke a finger last year in a crash and found anything more than about 65% of FTP cause the HR to go way up (into threshold range) for about 5-6 weeks after the crash.

Same with me, had a crash 2 1/2 weeks ago. Bad bruises to my rips on the right side. Can’t sleep very well because it is not possible to turn around and of course deep breathing.

After 10 Days doing nothing, I started training on the rollers again. Heart Rate was 20 bpm more than usual. But what’s even more frustrating I was at the end of SSB II and about to enter Genral Build phase and now I can only do trainings like Pettit. :sleepy: :sob:

I guess we all have to be patient when it comes to healing, this is something which really sucks. Hope I doesn’t take me again 12 weeks to get back on track.

By the way to all: GET WELL SOON and RIDE SAVE