Well, my first gravel race ended with a shattered collarbone and a separated AC joint. Did this just as I hit 4.0 watt/kg and was feeling better than ever on the bike.
I have surgery in 2 days to get a plate put in and already know I will miss 2 C races. I have a B race (150 mile Gravel Locos) May 22nd that I still would like to do.
Does anyone have advise on how to somewhat train while mending a broken collarbone? I know I will lose some fitness, but I would be the happiest guy in the world if I can find a way to minimize the damage. I plan to use this time to work on my diet and sleep patterns, but getting back to training asap is my main goal. Should I hold off on my B race to really focus on my rehab and my preparation for my A race? First time breaking a bone so this is all new to me… Thanks!
After I broke my shoulder I was back on the trainer in about three weeks, or ~10 days after surgery IIRC (it was delayed). I figure that it will be easier with the collarbone, but just take it very easy and make sure there’s absolutely no pain and you’re not putting too much pressure on the bones.
I wish you a speedy recovery, man.
I had this happen a couple of years ago…hook plate inserted for broken collarbone, broken elbow to go along with it. Got back on trainer after 4 weeks. It hurt pretty bad and training wasn’t effective until about 6 weeks. I’d take it day by day. Sleep was difficult and the healing alone was exhausting. Late 40s for reference.
I broke the end of my collarbone off and separated my shoulder mid-October. Had surgery 2 days later to put the bone back together and fix the separated shoulder. I can’t remember the degrees for shoulder separation but I had the worst. I also tore some ligaments off my collarbone which help hold it down. It is now 4 and a half months later and I am just starting to be able to ride on the trainer relatively pain free. I am getting the metal out of my shoulder around the 6 month mark. I don’t expect to be able to ride outside for at least a month after that. The bone itself is not the issue. They heal pretty quickly. It is going to be how bad your soft tissue is messed up. That is what takes a long time to heal. Also depending on what hardware they may have to put in your shoulder will effect your range of motion. I can still barely get my arm out to 90 degrees to the front or side. It has taken me much longer that I thought although my Dr had told me the day of the surgery it would be 8 months before I was really going to be able to do most of the things I am used to doing.
Man, PT was by far the worst part of my recovery. Getting those things moving again is a pain (literally).
To speak to that, too, I’ve had teammates who have clavicle surgery and ride the trainer less than 48 hours afterwards, which definitely created some other residual issues/imbalances/injuries later on. Rushing it can only create more issues, and the ‘my legs arent injured so I can still ride’ narrative can be super harmful.
Checking in with your PT, surgeon, and with yourself will be instrumental in gauging when you can realistically ride indoors with your hands on the bars again, and eventually outside.
This rules. Nourish yourself and sleep LOTS, it will speed up your healing process!
Take care of yourself, lean on your physicians and PTs, and be patient.
FIrst, you should listen to your surgeon, doctor and then physical therapists. Second, you should make sure that they understand what your goals are long term and set a path towards that.
For my collarbone, the doctor was one of the top sports doctors in Chicago who proritized making sure that the result of the surgery was that the collarbone and shoulder were equal and even with the non-broken. My physical therapists knew my athletic and personal goals and set manageable and achievable markers to reach those goals. I also committed to following their instructions completely and exactly(which was something that apparently does happen all that often).
Third it is a process and that can take time. Rushing can complicate and set the process back.
The last thing I would recommend and isn’t utilized by many is see if your doctor can proscribe a Game Ready Ice machine and shoulder wrap. This was an amazing thing that helped with the recovery from surgery and pain management. Game Ready for Patients | Understanding Hot and Cold Therapy You can rent them with a proscription instead of buying.
(edit, I do not work for Game Ready and maybe there are others out there but that is what I used and what they PT and DR used)
Thanks for the tips. A good buddy who has had his fair share of shoulder injuries from hockey is sending me his ice wrap machine. Planning on putting it to good use haha.
Luckily the bike shop that put on the race suggested a doctor for me to use. Not only is he an avid cyclist, he was actually in the same race! Knowing his background has definitely helped me stay positive through all of this.
Thanks for the tips Ivy! Plan on following my doctor and PT’s plans to a tee. I know it will help expedite the recovery process. Knowing my Doc’s background as a cyclist (was actually in the same race that I crashed in) has helped me keep my spirts high. While I really want to ride in my B race, I just need to remind myself my big races this summer take priority.
Depending on the break, it may be a while. I put mine into four pieces while racing downhill, and the surgeon kept me off the trainer for (IIRC) 8-10 weeks, and the bike for closer to 3,5 months. Something about cyclical motions having the potential for backing the screws out. I had some other complications, and elected not to have the plate removed after, either.
I’d focus on getting range of motion back; I am close to 100%, but there is still some limitation compared to my unbroken side.
PT here and I would recommend that you take it easy and listen to what the doctors said and continue to day with each check up. I would say that if youre making big strides in PT then good chance you can make your “B” race no problem (given you will lack some fitness going in). I would be concerned with training for the race too soon and not allowing time for the bones to heal properly as your clavicle is a weight bearing structure (more so the AC joint and SC joint) when on the handlebars and might not be well tolerated for some time after ROM is returned. I would also be worried about getting on the trainer too soon and risking infection internally, even after the surgery site is closed as elevated heart rate along with fatigue can make you more prone to infections.
This is an injury that will take some time to return from and in saying that you might just surprise yourself and return early, everyone is different. Talk with your PT about options and what they recommend you do in the interim for training and maintaining fitness through rehab. They should also be the ones that give you the OK to start riding the bike again and they will limit your intensity on the bike for a few weeks would be my guess to prevent internal inflammation from arising in the area.
I hope that this helps, don’t bag your B race just yet but I would set sights on your A race as it is your A race for a reason. Good luck with recovery mate!!