Cracked ribs - can I ride?

biondino Posts: 5,990
edited February 2009 in Road beginners
Hi all,

I came off my bike on Sunday and my bike landed on top of me, cracking a rib in the process. I've broken ribs twice before (playing football), but neither time was I riding regularly. I want to be off a bike for as short a time as possible (obviously), so can people who've experienced the same thing, or have specific knowledge, let me know when I can potter around on the bike again? I'm only a commuter/leisure rider, so training/racing isn't an issue, but I don't want to lose all my fitness if I can avoid it.

I do have a turbo, but god it sucks and I'd much rather ride in the fresh air :)



  • Surely only you can answer that? I once broke a load of ribs and one of them caused a pneumothorax(rib punctured lung and lung collapsed) there was no way i could ride as it hurt some-what :shock:
  • biondino
    biondino Posts: 5,990
    I guess what I'm asking is how quickly can I ride without risking hindering the healing process - I don't mind a bit of discomfort as long as I know I'm not b*ggering up the bone-knitting! I was thinking I really don't want to leave it any more than 10 days if I can possibly help it.

    Also, as far as I can tell it's a very simple fracture - no lung damage, no external bruising, just continual discomfort :)
  • Are they cracked, did you have an x-ray? If you did and there's visible brekage then, personally, i would wait at least a week but if there's not too much dis-comfort on the bike then why not ride, i found that my body tells me a lot more than the doctors could as to how badly damaged i was :)
  • One of my regular riding buddies had a prang recently and cracked his sternum. He tried riding again after a month. He may well have got away with it had his damage been limited to the sternum, but he afterwards found that he also has some soft tissue damage to his back and so is having to rest up some more.
  • don_don
    don_don Posts: 1,007
    I had a rib fracture some years ago when I was really into rock-climbing. I couldn't climb for months but I found that cycling wasn't too uncomfortable at all, so I kept that up.

    I think it must depend on the break - where and how bad it is.

    Have you considered speaking to a sports physio for more advice?
  • keef66
    keef66 Posts: 13,123
    I think I'd try it and see how you go. I always take my GP's advice with a pinch of salt. If it's cracked rather than broken completely with the two ends floating about, a bit of movement may actually promote the healing process.

    Then again, if you should happen to come a cropper a second time you might set yourself back even further.

    Depends on how lucky you feel I suppose.
  • If it's a crack rather than a break then it's down to how much discomfort you can put up with. I once had to ride 30 miles to get home after coming off and whilst I could move at a relaxed pace on the flat, hills killed me.

    It took 6 weeks to heal up.
  • biondino - having recently been taken out by a motorist and having (probably) ended up with (among other things) a couple of cracked ribs (probably because A&E didn't think an x-ray was warranted) I have been given all sorts of advice.
    However, 2 things have been obvious:
    i) the pain has dissuaded me from too much activity - can't breathe in fully and cannot put all my weight on my arms, so the weekday turbo is out. At weekends I have been unable to get out on the road (altho' I did get out the day after it happened, just as a sort of f--- you statement).
    ii) you need to keep on top of it - my GP said take deep breaths, do exercise etc but within sensible limits, otherwise it may prove more difficult to regain prior fitness, abilities.
    I am worried about long-term accumulation of such damage at my age (which may not apply to you...).
    I was told ~2 weeks for bruising and 6 weeks for broken/fractured/cracked ribs.

    I am out tomorrow (day off work) so I am doing the usual route which will involve deep breathing... :shock:

    Good luck with it. :wink:
    Singlespeeds in town rule.
  • You're a brave man seeking medical advice from this lot rather than a doctor!! :lol:
    Titanium Bertoletti
  • passout
    passout Posts: 4,425
    I cracked a rib and my doc told me that cycling was fine but to avoid painkillers & exercise, as increased levels of pain are obviously a warning sign. Getting out a breath may hurt for a while but generally I don't think you'll do yourself any harm....if you stay on your bike!
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • iain_j
    iain_j Posts: 1,941
    Did mine in last summer. I was off the bike (commuting) for four weeks, and a few more weeks before I got out on "proper" rides again.

    I probably would have been back on sooner, if it wasn't for having the worst bout of hayfever in years. Lots of sneezing = v. painful :shock:
  • andrew_s
    andrew_s Posts: 2,511
    A cracked rib is reasonably well splinted by the adjacent ribs and you are unlikely to do much damage or restrict the healing process. If there's several cracked ribs, a repeat fall could end up in a punctured lung, but if it was caused by being hit by the bike I would imaging it's only the one.

    Whether it hurts too much is another matter, and up to you.

  • I cracked my rib(s) last summer, Cycling was about the only ting that didn't hurt!

    Sitting on the sofa, lying in bed (especially that!) all really hurt, whereas sitting on my bike, pedalling I was completely pain free.

    There's not a lot you can do about a cracked rib, I re-cracked mine a couple of times in bed, (very frustrating!), but cycling was fine.

    My only concern would be falling off, especially as that's how you did it in the first place. But if that's not too much of a concern for you, i'd go on a small ride and see if hurts. - Design-Led home furniture and accessories.
  • Eat My Dust
    Eat My Dust Posts: 3,965
    I broke a couple of ribs at the beginning of December, I was pretty much off the bike for the best part of 4 weeks. Saying that I probably should have taken a little bit longer as in the end they didn't stop hurting until early Feb!!
  • This bloke will sort you out !!!!