Dealing with injury

Since I began biking almost two years ago, I’ve been lucky when it comes to injuries.  I haven’t had any to speak of.  Oh, I know I’ve griped about my numb toe too often.  (By the way, those new shoes of mine have indeed taken care of that problem.  On a two and a half hour ride last weekend, I had barely a twinge out of it.)  There was some soreness after my crash last fall, but nothing to keep me from riding.

That’s a nice departure from my running days, when I used to develop injuries fairly often.  If I could, I’d run through the pain.  Sometimes that was fine — sometimes, it aggravated the problem.

I bring this up, because I got a recent email from reader Don, in California.  He said:

Last week I injured my back and left hip, I believe it came from having my left foot too toed in while riding, which caused aggravation along the tendon that runs in that area. I took two days off, iced and did Tylenol. I’m fine. But that still leads to the question of how to handle biking injuries? 

We look on with amazement as Lance Armstrong has surgery for a collarbone fracture that was worse than first thought, then gets patched up with a five-inch steel plate and a dozen screws, and is expected to be on the trainer in a week, and back to racing in eight to twelve weeks.  But that’s Lance.

How about you?  What kind of injuries have you had to deal with, and what was recovery like?  What did you do to come back, and how long did it take?


  1. says

    I broke my ankle playing roller derby a year and a half ago. I was back at the gym before I was off crutches (nothing crazy like training for the Tour or anything). I really bounced back though, but then ended up needing a second surgery. I had that second surgery about a year ago and just haven’t really had the energy to bounce back in the same way I did after the 2nd.

    I couldn’t imagine being out of bed, much less on a trainer a week out from having the plate put in.

  2. says

    I’ve had several concussions between hockey, soccer and biking, about 4 mild ones and one medium one when I got kicked in the head playing soccer in high school. I’ve torn the ligaments in my feet several times requiring crutches (soccer). When fall soccer season overlapped with hockey I would push my swollen foot into my skate and play, didn’t hurt to much to skate just to walk. I’ve had stitches on my chin, forehead and above my eyes from hockey sticks. Seperated my shoulder playing hockey. Seperated my collarbone playing football, was in a sling for a week or two. Still have pain occasionally when lifting weights. Stretched my ACL and slightly tore my MCL playing hockey, no surgery just rehab for 2 months. I’ve pulled hamstrings, pulled quads are the worse, they take a long time to heal. Pulled groin, another lingering one that is easy to hurt if not take care of. I’ve broken my nose twice, first time when I was 11 playing baseball and then again playing hockey. I’ve jammed my fingers so many times playing basketball that they aren’t straight.

    The worst biking related injury was from a fall a year and a 1/2 ago. My chain snapped while I was out of the saddle sprinting, I lost control and went down. Got a mild concussion from that one. Every once and awhile my knee will flare up with pain and I’ll have to dial down my mileage, funny thing is it’s not my “bad” knee, most of the time it’s my other knee, but they seem to take turns as to which one will hurt.

    At first read it looks like I had a lot of hockey related injuries, and I did. However the bulk of my hockey injuries happened in beer league or recreational leagues after I stopped playing competitively. I only had a couple minor concussions and separated shoulder playing as a kid through college and that includes playing in Europe twice. Plus I still have all my teeth! I got an even better one, but it’s better told in person, over a long ride on how I had to sit out 2 years of doing almost anything physical.

  3. says

    Holy cripes, Mike. So how long does it take to come back from those injuries? How soon can you get back on the bike, and what’s the recommendation for building up mileage again?

  4. tracywilkins says

    I broke my collarbone in a crash the weekend after Thanksgiving 2007. It was a pretty nasty break, with multiple pieces of bone floating around in there. My orthopedist recommended not doing surgery, which in hindsight I wish I had questioned more. The first month of that experience had to be the most miserable time of my life! Those are not fun at my age.

    I was completely shut down for about 4 weeks, then started doing some light cardio for a couple of weeks, and started riding a spin bike and running at about 6 weeks. Fortunately we had horribly bad weather that January/February so it forced me to stay off the real bike until the end of February. By that time I had gotten some of my cardio capacity back from running and riding the spin bike so I wasn’t actually too far behind the game.

  5. Ben says

    Yeah Tracy, you’ve got to watch those orthopedists. As far as my own injuries from biking go, I haven’t had anything related to road riding. However, I do mountain bike quite a bit, and I had a nasty crash about three weeks ago.

    I was out riding with some buddies, and we decided to do a hill we had only ever done once before (and I must say I didn’t really want to do it the first time either). Anyway, I bit the bullet and went for it. Mistake number two on my part was doing this on my new (for me) Stumpjumper which I was not quite used to yet. I picked up quite a bit of speed down the hill and then noticed I was heading straight for a tree at the bottom, panicked and accidentally locked up my front brake. Needless to say, I endo’d and faceplanted. I ended up with a concussion, and because I landed on my chin, my lower lip was ripped from my chin bone and had to be stitched closed. There was a ton of nasty dirt and leaves and stuff down in there too. I ended up having to get it re-stitched a week later because it wasn’t healing properly, but now I’m finally almost completely recovered. I DID have my helmet on when this happened, but it was just a regular bike helmet. I have since bought a full-face bike helmet that I’m going to wear for mountain biking from now on.

    Just a few days ago I was out road riding with my mother who also loves biking, and quite possibly the weirdest accident I have ever seen happened to her. We were riding a usual route in our rural neighborhood on a low-traffic nicely paved road, going down a small hill at about 20 MPH when a neighbor’s dog ran all the way across the road at full speed, barely missed my back tire and plowed headfirst into my mom’s front wheel. The impact immediately knocked her into the ditch, and she unfortunately caught herself with her right wrist which was pretty badly fractured. We are supposed to take her in for surgery next week.

    That’s why I said you have to watch the orthopedists, as we got some pretty unsavory solutions from a couple of them that we talked to. If you can find someone who specializes in your specific type of injury that is better, and even better is if you can find someone willing to try more involved and specialized care. The doctor we are taking her to is very friendly, specializes in wrist fractures and is willing to try some of the new plating methods that are out there right now (stay away from external fixators if you can, that is old school). He also has a highly specialized hand therapist that works with him for rehab. The end result should be a faster recovery with less loss of function for my mom.

    Be careful out there, fellow bikers, because you never know when disaster can strike!

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