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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 07-10-13, 08:32 AM   #1
RT
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Cycling injury - what do you do?

It is hard to stay off the bikes at the height of the season when injured, but depending on severity, what do you do? I'm sure we have all ridden with injury before and to the detriment of our health, probably extending the recovery time significantly.

In January I took a nasty spill on plow sand and was out eight weeks with a pretty sore left elbow and wrist. I [thankfully] avoided a cast and healed up slowly. I know wear neoprene ACE braces on my wrists and it helps tremendously. I expect to be off of them in the next few weeks.

About two months ago, I took a spill on the right side (this, after never having wrecked since childhood) and last night discovered that while the elbow is not sore and has full range of motion, it looks like I am growing a ping pong ball in there. That's right, another ACE brace for the elbow. I look like a friggin' transformer now, but the sun sleeves tone the armored look down a bit.

I'll heal up ok, but was wondering at what level you all take time off the bike to heal. Do you risk furthering the injury or prolonging the recovery? Recently, some of you have had some wicked injuries, and I hope you heal quickly. When we spend all winter whining about how cold it is, July is a tough month to be off the bikes.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:05 AM   #2
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I start riding as soon as I can but I'm old so everything hurts even when I'm not hurt.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:15 AM   #3
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Had broken my elbow last year and wore a sling for 1.5 months. Immediately tried to resume cycling after that but the pain was much plus I had regained only 60-70% of movement. Kept trying week after week to see if the pain reduced enough to start riding normally. Took 4 months before I felt confident. Those 4 months had been some of the most miserable in recent times for me. Made me realize how important staying injury free was.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:37 AM   #4
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I wanna share my story in regards to my injury-to-recovery-experience. A little bit long though.

I had a nasty fall in a cat 5 race in March this year. It was my third race ever. We were doing 25-26mph on a long curved road and I touched someone else's wheel while I was taking a breather. The group slowed down suddenly, it caught me off guard. I fell off balance and took down 3-4 racers with me. But they were okay...

My right hand was SUPER messed up. The list my misery: middle and ring fingers were facing side way; a torn ligament on middle finger; fractures on 4th and 5th metacarpal and road rash. Adrenaline was still flowing, I tried to correct those fingers... They snapped back... Not good. Three minutes had gone, I finally felt some much pain. I screamed like a little girl. Luckily, an official car was following the race. They called the first responder who then called an ambulance because my injury was too hardcore. I had 2-3 shots of morphine to calm me down and to lower my pain. On the ambulance, the guys told me that I was one of the few people that didn't ask for their bikes... Yep, I didn't ask for it. My bike was the least of my concern at that point. My biggest concern was that they would amputate my fingers... They called my girlfriend to meet me at the hospital. She was calm, which was not surprising since she is a doctor. I bet she had seen a worse condition than mine.

I had hand surgery on the same day. I got 4 pins sticking out but I didn't wear a cast. Pins came out on the 6th week. My hand had 40-50% mobility. Everything was so stiff and I couldn't put any load on it. I had a hand therapy twice a week. I was very frustrated because I couldn't do anything. But I turned that frustration into a motivation to recover faster. I wasn't thinking about getting back on the bike though. I worked on my fingers and joints everytime I had a chance. Way way more than what my hand therapist had suggested. By early June, I had about 90% mobility and had gained some of my strength back. My therapist and doctor were shocked by my recovery rate. My doctor said that most of his patients took another 2-3 months to get where I was. I was discharged from the therapy.

If you asked what my biggest frustration was, I would say losing fitness that I had worked so hard for. And of course, the bill.

Nevertheless, I did what I could to stay active by running and core workouts. But something was missing from me. I missed cycling. Not necessarily racing but just riding my bike. I knew I would be risking my recovery or maybe got into another accident. But I had learned a lot since that crash. That kind crash and injury made me more humble than ever.

By mid June, I got back on my bike. I rode by myself at a park nearby. The vibration from the road and bumps hurt my hand. But I kept on riding every other day in the week. As I gained more strength and confidence, I tried riding with my club's Saturday morning ride. I couldn't keep up with the 18-20mph group for the first two rides I did. I have gained my some of fitness back since then. I could ride pretty hard these days but I still don't have guts to go back racing. That may come in time. Who knows.

Until now, my insurance is still negotiating the bill with the hospital. Medical bills aside, I've healed up pretty nice and am happy that I can ride my bike again.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:40 AM   #5
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It depends.
If your name is Tony Martin you just htfu and win a TT a few days later.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:40 AM   #6
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Don't take pain killers and let the pain be your guide. I try to get back on my bike as soon as the pain will let me. On the other hand, don't be afraid to exercise the flip-side. If you are in a lot of pain, don't be afraid to say "f- it" to biking for a while. The bike ain't going anywhere.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:41 AM   #7
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I'll heal up ok, but was wondering at what level you all take time off the bike to heal. Do you risk furthering the injury or prolonging the recovery? Recently, some of you have had some wicked injuries, and I hope you heal quickly. When we spend all winter whining about how cold it is, July is a tough month to be off the bikes.
If I was injured, cycling antagonized my injury causing me pain and extending the recovery time, possibly risking a less-than-complete recovery, and I lived in Colorado, I'd stay off the bike for the rest of the season and spend my time hiking. You don't use your arms so your body will recover, you'll still get plenty of exercise, you'll see beautiful things, and you'll have more fun than you would on the bike.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:46 AM   #8
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I think it partly depends on how old you are, because it gets harder and takes longer as you age - I'm recovering from ankle surgery 2 months ago and have ridden twice in the last few days (for the first time since May 5th!). I was in a cast for 6 of the 8 weeks between surgery and ride. I definitely agree with Brian Ratliff's advice to skip the pain killers and let pain be your guide but you need to exercise caution that you're not being a hard headed mule about withstanding pain (which is my tendency)

Congratulations on a rapid recovery - that's the general advice for everybody after an injury or surgery - do your PT and do it well. Looks like it worked out well.
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Old 07-10-13, 09:57 AM   #9
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my experience with injuries is limited to musle and tendon strain/pull/tears/etc.. luckly, no injuries from crashes to deal with...yet.

with muscle and tendon injuries, it seems the only way to get back to 100% is to rest and then build strength back when you are fully recovered from the injury. i might be able to manage the pain and ride at 80-95% effectiveness (depending on the injury), but in order to get back to 100% getting enough rest time (off the bike) is my only option.
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Old 07-10-13, 10:51 AM   #10
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I herniated my L4-L5 discs in my back in 09. Took 2 years off of everything except going to the gym and physio 3 days a week. Now there is arthritis which I can feel every day with everything I do except when on my bike. It has been a savior to always hurting, so I bike as much as I can.

Two things I learned. 1. Find a cheap hobby 2. Don't rush things, you will heal.
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Old 07-10-13, 11:34 AM   #11
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I have had only one serious injury in my entire life, a badly-broken femur. My experience and advice is exactly what prankster and TrojanHorse said, which is, work your tail off in PT. I was scared that I will never be able to resume my very active lifestyle, but luckily for me, my physician brother had told me that apart from the expertise of my orthopedist, the next most important thing in getting me back to my active lifestyle was my working hard at physical therapy. I pushed real hard at PT, asked my therapist for a strenuous program, and worked it diligently. And to my surprise, even now, my bum leg (with a Ti rod running from my hip to just above my knee) gets fatigued less than my good leg on long rides/hikes. This phenomenon, I attribute to my PT program and how hard I worked it.

Good luck!
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Old 07-10-13, 12:09 PM   #12
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I'd do this:

- Ride the trainer until you're at least mostly pain-free on the areas where you fell. Will probably take 2-6 weeks depending on where you fell.
- Go out very easy on your first rides outdoors back in the game, and keep them non-workout rides (no hammering) until you feel comfy and safe again. Might take 1-3 weeks. Save your hammering for the safer trainer until then.
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Old 07-10-13, 02:08 PM   #13
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It depends.
If your name is Tony Martin you just htfu and ....
for the love of god, 217. no spoilers!!!
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Old 07-11-13, 02:29 AM   #14
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It depends ...

I tore my left rotator cuff in a clothing incident, but rode a 200K randonnee shortly after, and I don't think the ride lengthened the recovery at all.


But I damaged my Achilles tendons on a 1200K randonnee, and probably lengthened my recovery time by trying to ride a bit every couple weeks over the next 6 months.
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Old 07-11-13, 03:23 AM   #15
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If you asked what my biggest frustration was, I would say losing fitness that I had worked so hard for. And of course, the bill.
Man, it always shocks me anew when I realise you guys in the US have to worry about the bill when you get hurt. Adding insult to injury. Glad you're on your way back to full fitness!
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Old 07-11-13, 04:56 AM   #16
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At age 61 bike flipped, C-6 fracture, compression and slippage of C-5, C-6 and C-7, fractured clavicle, LTN = 1.5 days ICU then 2 days sharing room with incontinent 80+yo, got released and received permission from neurosurgeon and orthopedic-surgeon for immediate speed-walk training for upcoming marathon with neck collar 24/7 for 16 weeks including when showering. Hopped back on bike week 17-day 1.

Major thyroid surgery 3 weeks ago tomorrow and allowed to ride hybrid next day but had to wait 2 weeks to get back on road bike. Now back to full training for Ironman in November. Hard to keep an old phart down.

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Old 07-11-13, 02:45 PM   #17
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Just went down Saturday for no good reason. Went through some loose gravel in a curve and that was that. Something I've done hundreds of times but something I did was a bit "off" this time I guess. Tore the hell out of my knee, bruised up my shoulder and destroyed my ankle. The flesh looks bad but is healing nicely and not causing any issues. The twisting of my knee felt pretty good after two days. My ankle and foot are bruised badly and swollen to at least twice it's normal size. I have only one pair of shoes I can even get my foot in.

At first I couldn't even stand on my ankle but I was 15 miles out when it happened and had to ride home. I watched my ankle swell with every mile, pedaled with one leg and just about couldn't get off the bike when I got home. That ride home was still better than not riding at all and I'm waiting for my foot to fit into any one of my cycling shoes:-(
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Old 07-11-13, 03:01 PM   #18
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99Klein, that is a most excellent HTFU story. Bonus points.

Much truth in the aging/recover time post. It sounds like we as a bunch know what is good for us, but often try to come back too soon. Long winters and boring trainer sessions make me make every day count while there's no snow or ice on the road.

All of you who have been injured this season, heal well.
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Old 07-11-13, 05:02 PM   #19
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I pedal through everything. But depending how bad the injury is, I will just do some light spinning.

Edit: (but note that I have not had any broken bones, which depending on the bone, might change my view).
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Old 07-11-13, 05:05 PM   #20
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Man, it always shocks me anew when I realise you guys in the US have to worry about the bill when you get hurt. Adding insult to injury. Glad you're on your way back to full fitness!
This is 'Murica, we don't take Kindly to socialist and totalitarian states and terrorist regimes that pay for universal healthcare through taxes. Because if you can't afford the care, you shouldn't have gotten hurt in the first place.
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