Nondisplaced right eighth rib fracture

Took a hard fall mountain biking Sunday (2 days ago). Just x-rayed showing a nondisplaced right 8th rib fracture. Already feeling better just over the last day or so. Deep breathing is much easier. Really bummed. I’m 57 and in really good shape from riding and a lifetime of weight training. I also am a DC and use nutrition/homeopathy etc… which I am implementing. Looks like mountain biking and my weight training are done for a little while. What advice would you have as far as my smart trainer and trainer road? Should I give it a few days, longer,? I really don’t want to lose what I have gained as I was really on a roll and doing awesome with all of my activity. I do T/Th/Sat as far as my calendar. I did Base 1, Base 2, Build and I am in Specialty with Wynne on tap for today. Not sure how to modify based on my current issue. Thanks.

Hello, It takes about 6 weeks for healing rib fractures. The fracture heals first by fibrous union. The trainer is the way to go, you just want to avoid the lifting. Regarding the trainer, you could probably train as hard as your pain tolerance. I would monitor your heart rate to make sure it is what it normally does for these efforts. I would back off is your heart rate is to fast, or your perceived breathing is to labored. Monitor your blood pressure periodically. Any increase difficulty breathing besides your pain, you would want to check and make sure you do not have a pneumothorax, which is probably less likely in your case, with only one fractured, nondisplaced rib. Regarding Smart trainer advice, I will leave that subject to some one who has one. I do not think you will lose what you gained, staying with structured indoor training. I hope you find this advice helpful, not a substitute for MD, based on personal experience with my own rib fractures.


No effusion noted on the x-ray so I am not concerned with lung involvement since it is non displaced and more towards the rear I believe. Just not sure if I should just take the week off for any reason, go back to the plan that I mentioned today or just do some easier plans for a little while.

Trainer is the way to go. Spin lightly as you probably cannot take deep breaths. Basically, if it hurts, then you’re riding too hard. As you feel better, your efforts on the trainer will naturally increase. The first week or two are the worst. But, make no mistake, it will be at most likely be at least 4-6wks if not longer before you can take really deep breaths w/out feeling anything.

p.s. avoid sneezing and laughing

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Surprisingly although it is a bit more effort I can take deep breaths most of the time with just minor discomfort.

I will probably start back up tomorrow morning. A few questions:

  1. What should I do with my calendar since I am putting those workouts on hold for now?
  2. What specific workouts would you recommend I should look towards to start? Will still shoot for 3x a week probably an hour at a time.
  3. If I seem to handle those workouts well what specific progression would you recommend workout wise?

It is a bit frustrating that the planner is so structured and I don’t have to give it any thought, just follow the calendar and ride the recommended workouts. Now I feel like it will be flying by the seat of my pants so to speak.

Use your clinical judgement. Since fully fractured ribs involve pretty severe pain, particularly deep breathing, it is possible you just have a hairline fracture, just through one side of the rib, {periosteum, cortex}, but without fracturing whole rib. Anyway, I would use pain with deep breathing, along with monitoring your heart rate , as guidelines. I hope you find this advice helpful, not a substitute for MD.

This discussion came at the perfect timing, I hit the deck pretty hard last weekend and have a mildly displaced 9th rib. It was really hard to make out on the X-ray even after the doctor pointed it out to me.

My breathing is much better now, probably at 85% of “capacity”? Coughing and sneezing hurts real bad, but it feels like I am able to handle up to a tempo pace without any physical pain from the rib.

I have not gotten on the trainer yet, waiting to let some of the road rash heal up a bit more first before sweating all over them. Once I am able, I am planning to do a block of long intervals at around 76-80% of my FTP adjusting according to how it feel on the bike.

As it is, I would avoid anything closer to threshold and vo2max. Don’t want to take the risk to make things worse.

So I just did Acho. My FTP currently is 183. I did the workout at 75%. Felt good. No real difference in discomfort compared to not biking. Even got into the drops. I will probably stay at 75% this week and go up next week. Should I just go down the list alphabetically in Tempo and do those for a while? Think I should stick to the hour workouts for a little while. Also thinking I will just leave my calendar and the workouts I do will just get added to the calendar. When this thing is fully healed I will probably start Base 1 again since that is where I would have been in 3 weeks anyway. It would have been week 29 of my training. Man, injuries suck. Thoughts on my game plan?

Speaking from recent personal experience (hard crash 9 weeks ago after hit and run from a car) I broke 3 ribs (3rd 4th & 5th on right side).

It took around 6 to 7 weeks for the bulk of the pain to go away. Was pretty painful for about 4 weeks, after which point the pain started to decrease much more quickly.

My riding (indoors) was compromised due to other (hip) injury however I did notice that my ribs hurt last week after my first road ride - probably because I was unaccustomed to holding the bars and some of my body weight due to such an extended period out of the saddle.

As other have said, take it easy to begin with.

I found some very gentle yoga (lying on the floor yin style as opposed to full-on stuff) was super helpful.

Good luck :+1:t2:

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About 7 weeks ago I took a fall, sideswiping a car in the process and hitting my ribs in that crash. I didn’t go to get an XRay, but I knew that my ribs were bruised as a couple of years ago I had the same sort of situation when breaking my collar bone.

My first workouts, a day after and for about half the week after were Dans, Lazy Mountain-2 and Bald Knob, before resuming a VO2 workout (Bluebell) which I struggled with.
When it happened I was on week 2 of a LVbase build. I didn’t modify the plan, but resumed within the next week…I just toned down the workout, or just backpedaled when it started to feel a bit strained on the breathing.

I do remember that the longer more intense threshold rides caused discomfort. It took about four weeks for the pain to subside, but could still feel it on longer outside efforts. All comments above are pretty spot on. You have to take it at your pace and see how breathing and holding position affects your pain tolerance then back off, or reduce the intensity of the workout. Obviously it’s a case by case situation. And as everyone recommends, don’t laugh, cough or sneeze (that one was the hardest especially during the allergy blooming season).

Good luck with recovery.

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OK so tomorrow is 3 weeks post fracture. Doing pretty well overall. I have just been doing tempo workouts 2-3 times a week since at 100%. Really getting antsy. Can’t weight train for another week and off the mountain bike for another 3 weeks. Bought a G-Form compression shirt with rib protection for when I resume just as a precaution. What do you think I should do as far as TR? Should I just start over again with plan builder? I feel like it has been forever that I have been off my regular TR routine. This would have been week 28 Specialty and I would be starting week 29 Base 1 the following week. Not sure how to proceed.

I’m just jumping in here with my $0.02…
As long as you don’t fall off the trainer, it would be really really tough to hurt the healing rib at this point, regardless of exertion level. Ribs have their own flex/joint system to allow for typical bucket-handle movement, and normal or deep breathing shouldn’t place excessive stress on the fracture. If it did, pain would let you know immediately. Hard efforts on the trainer are tough from a cardiovascular standpoint, but shouldn’t be all that stressful on the trunk structure. External obliques technically have an attachment there, and rectus and transverse share some real estate, but all those insertions are more medial than where you are describing the fracture. Bottom line - if it were me, I would go ahead and try the harder workouts unless I was getting pain from them.

All that said - do you need to? Is there an event you’re training for? If you were already in Specialty, it sounds like the an event might be close (assuming it hasn’t be postponed/canceled?). Given that you’re so far into a plan, this could be an interesting situation to work through. It’s unlikely that you’ve really lost much real fitness in 3 weeks, save maybe for some real high end, short effort tolerance.

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No event I am training for. I’m just competing against myself lol. Just not sure what to do at this point training wise. Start over or pick up on Tuesday where I would have been if I hadn’t fractured the rib. Breathing isn’t 100% yet but getting pretty close.

I decided to delete the rest of my program and start over again on Tuesday with Plan Builder. The fracture was 3 weeks ago today and this is the best I felt riding. Slight rib tightness on deep inhale but nothing like it has been up to this point. I am not training for any race so I thought I would get a fresh start so to speak physically and mentally from the 3 week stop of the program I was on. I have been doing 1 hour tempo workouts 2-3 times a week for the last 3 weeks. First week was at 75% and the last two weeks were at 100%. I just didn’t feel like jumping back in to where I was in the program like nothing had happened. This way I will not overwhelm my healing rib yet be able to hit it hard relative to the new plan. My sons went mountain biking today with my riding buddy and all I could do was watch them pull away while being jealous lol. I think the first three weeks were the toughest since the fracture was still kind of fresh as far as how the rib felt but the next three weeks will seem to go faster. I get back to weight training the week after this although I will cut the weight down a bit. Not the worst experience in the world but one I hope not to experience again. BTW, looking forward to getting off the couch and back in my bed. Sleep hasn’t been the best.

If you didn’t have a goal event, and aren’t motivated to return to where you were in the plan, it makes perfect sense to start back over. It’s not like you’re writing off the fitness that you have recently gained; you will just build up to be stronger than you were right before the crash.
Good luck with return to lifting and outdoor riding. Sounds like you are being very methodical and reasonable about it, so I’m sure it will all go well.

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Started anew today. Just finished my ramp test. Prior to my injury my FTP was 183. Today, it was 184. I can look at this a few ways.:

  1. Considering I am 3 weeks and 2 days into the rib fracture and I haven’t pushed myself much over the last 3 weeks I should be happy I had any improvement. I might not have lost much with the injury and down time.

  2. Had I not injured myself and had this “down” time my FTP would be higher than 184 so I did lose a bit relatively speaking.

  3. It could have been worse as I could have dropped my FTP given the circumstances of the last 3 weeks.

Not that it matters in the big picture because like I mentioned previously I am only in competition with myself since I don’t race or do any events. Any thoughts?

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