Riding after breaking ribs

Went out this morning for my usual ride, going along nicely as well. Went past the local surf lifesaving club which for some reason was abuzz at 5:30am. Had a look over and low and behold the curbing decided to jump out and trip me up. I went down hard and have 5 broken ribs on the left side. Happened in slow motion as I remember thinking this is going to really hurt them before hey presto it happens

Sitting in hospital now the inevitable question of how long after rib injuries did you get back on the road again. Have read that the indoor trainer very slowly to keep things ticking is a good way back into it.

Anyone with similar experience have any advice. I would love to hear it


Not broken ribs when riding. Have had a couple of fractured ribs (martial arts, ‘back in the day’).
Your physician’s advice should be the advice to take - (s)he and you can discuss the actual scope of the damage, your overall condition, …

I may have fractured a couple of ribs (and/or sternum and/or collarbones) when I came off (wet rail line, on a bend, at night, when tired) in Oct 18, but given I managed to ride 10km or so home (ugh hills), and things didn’t seem to progress more than “hairline they’ll not be able to treat” I left it be. [A little Ibuprofen for a day or so, for the worst bits]. I left the bike alone for a few days, was still in moderate discomfort after 2 weeks, basically fine after 2 months.

Hope the prognosis is “speedy recovery, you’ll be right for light stuff ‘soon’”.

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I have broken two in a MTB spill. Although painful I was able to commute my easy, flat 22 miles. But your body is working overtime to repair so expect a drop in your FTP and strength in bike handling. Take some time out and get well soon.

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Obviously, we’re all different. I fractured (only) one rib and did it skiing so no other bruises/abrasions as in a bike accident. Took 3 days off. Then a week of tempo-only (no deep breathing) and then gradually increasing from low end to regular SST (all on the trainer). I’m only 3+ weeks out so still haven’t tried a threshold workout or O/Us. And as somebody else said, don’t go deep your body needs the energy to heal.


I broke a rib in mid November, I took a couple days off, otherwise kept riding but kept the intensity way down, and tried not to get out of the saddle, because that really hurt :slight_smile: I also was sick for 3 weeks whilst healing with cold symptoms so lost a bit of fitness. Almost back to where I was now though

5 ribs is probably a whole other ballgame though

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Thanks everyone so far. I had never thought in the way of the body needing every to recover so don’t over do it. That makes great sense and is very obvious once don’t out like that


fwiw I was told by the consultant at least 6 weeks but they’d prefer 8 weeks before I could go out on the bike when I broke ribs in a crash.

However, because I punctured a lung they were happy for me to get straight back up on the turbo. Started off with 2-3 weeks easy but then was fairly quick into a General Build! Probably my most consistent block ever!

Just to say, I did go out after 8 weeks, but it was another couple of weeks before I was ready for a group spin - just because I was still sore rather than mental.


When I broke 4 ribs a few years ago I had no trainer and I remember 15 days later getting on my road bike and it hurtled like hell whenever som bumps in the road made me move a bit on the saddle. The trainer is really a nice option as long as you keep low intensity to star with trying to pedal without moving too much your core. Then go along with the pain, stop, keep on low intensity or move it up a little. But give at least a couple of weeks rest to your body prior to star that.

Hope that heals properly.

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Hi , broke a rib last year. Tried on the trainer after a couple of days but it was too uncomfortable to continue. Then left if for 2 or 3 weeks before starting again, and even then it was just very easy initially. I guess the best advice is to listen to your body, give it chance to recover and take it easy when starting again

I was off the bike for 4 days.
Endurance/tempo for 3 weeks.
Threshold for 3 weeks.
Efforts above threshold after that.
Lost very little fitness and probably did me some good to rest for a bit.
You’ll be back at it in no time—deep breathing with efforts above threshold were my limiter.


After my rib injuries I could ride, however, once the pace exceeded AeT and deep breathing was required, it caused a lot of pain. It took a few months to fully recover. Avoid funny movies and sick people. Laughing or a single sneeze would seemingly set me back a week.


Broke a couple of ribs in Sept. I took 3 weeks fully off the bike and trainer - basically until I could breath deep again.

Sleeping for the first two weeks was not fun. Laughing or coughing were absolute torture.

However, after the 3 week period, pain was substantially lower and I resumed regular riding including an MTB race - probably wasn’t a good idea, but I didn’t have any spills and made it through ok.

I’d say I was fully better with no noticeable discomfort by end of Oct or early Nov.

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I’ve broken a lot of ribs (some repeatedly). The trainer is your friend. I’ve found that I’m fine on the trainer, even with relatively hard efforts, if I’m in a more upright position and my body is as straight as possible.
The key is to listen to your doctor and listen to your body. Don’t do anything that actively hurts (discomfort is inevitable, pain is not).
Good nutrition is really important when recovering from injury - don’t cut back on eating just because you’re doing less exercise.

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I’d forgotten about the coughing. Again, because of the punctured lung, it was part of the recovery to make myself cough. Must have blanked it out!

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Holy shit…sorry for your bad luck. A broken rib(s) is a singularly painful, frustrating injury. My top tips for you:

  1. Under no circumstance should you sneeze. Ever. This sounds absurd, but if you ever feel one coming on jam something up your nose and make it stop. I once sneezed while having a broken rib, and it was more painful than the initial injury.
  2. Don’t cough.
  3. Try not to laugh.

As my doctor once said to me, “The problem with a broken rib is that every time you take a breath you slightly re-injure it.” Frustrating as hell.

As for pain-killers…Aleve worked much better for me than ibuprofen (Advil) and the like. Not sure why.

I’d stay off of riding outside and stay on the trainer - any fall at all, or even a sudden move - is likely to be a huge setback in recovery and hugely painful.

Good luck.


Broken ribs really hurt. I broke 2 last year when i slammed into the side of an idiot driver. - I damaged the car a lot in the process!
i was back on the trainer in about 2 days and did lots of very easy zone 1 then zone 2 work. i also walked a lot. The limiter for me was as soon as i started to breathe deeply and my chest moved i would feel the pain. It was a good month before i rode properly agin and i was down on the power all summer. It sucked. But it could have been worse.

Good luck. And no laughing :scream:

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This ^. Sneezing, coughing, laughing, heavy breathing is to be avoided. One day you will wake up and things will start to improve and feel better…but take it easy until you can do all the above w/o pain. Your inclination to jump on a trainer should be avoided as you don’t want re-injure something which will just set you back more weeks.


When I broke my two ribs, my girlfriend at the time, slept with her arm across my torso. Utter agony. But I didn’t have the heart to make her move. That’s love for you.

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I sneezed exactly 4 times in the first 2 weeks after i did mine. I can remember each event clearly :dizzy_face:


Day two had seen a massive improvement throughout the day. Had my painkillers changed which worked a treat. The staff in the hospital said I was the 5th person they treated around the Tour Down Under. I was just riding like normal but they said they get many many cyclists in during this time.

Asked the doctor when I could ride again and she said let’s just wait for a while first