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/ Climbing after broken ribs

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heleno - on 08 Sep 2018

It would be really useful to hear other people's experiences of getting back to climbing after breaking ribs.   

Were there any exercises that you found good for maintaining strength/flexibility in the early stages?  And how soon were you able to make a gentle return to climbing?

I currently have two broken ribs at the back of my chest.  I'm in the early stages of recovery and nowhere near ready to climb yet, but my physio is encouraging me to keep moving and active.  Any advice and suggestions would be welcome.

Post edited at 12:19
cb294 - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

Kinesiotape!

Broken ribs are reasonbly easy to tape (3 strips along the ribs, 3 vertical, but best look it up on youtube). Worked wonders for me. 

CB

heleno - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to cb294:

Wow, never thought of anything like that!  At what point did you start climbing with the tape?  And when did you find you could do without it?

pebbles - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

I found climbing and in fact almost any physical activity,  utterly impossible until my ribs healed, but don't worry, it only takes a few weeks for ribs to mend and then you'll be right as rain. Just go with the flow and give your body a few weeks to mend (it took me a month)  then get back into it. Take time out to read some books, watch some movies and catch up with mates .

Cake on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

I don't imagine there are any exercises recommended because you haven't damaged any muscles our tendons probably.

I can imagine stretching in certain ways will hurt, though and this kind of pain should be avoided as it will be putting pressure on the bones.

Don't fall on your back?

john arran - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

I slipped and cracked a rib - only a hairline fracture, thankfully - in Range West, while warming up traversing at the bottom of a new route I was hoping to try. I just knew it was going to get very painful once the swelling started, so I got on the route right away. Near the top it started to hurt quite badly but I was past the crux by then so I got away with it, although I quickly realised that any further climbing on that trip was very much out of the question. Took about 2 weeks before I could climb again - very gently - and about 4 weeks before I could climb quite normally again.

Wayne S - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

I had broken ribs with a punctured lung, was about 2-3 weeks before I climbed, and probably a further 3 until until I was mostly healed. 

If you can sleep a full night with the ribs, you can probably climb a bit!

Its a painful but fairly fast healing injury.  

profitofdoom on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to pebbles:

> I found climbing and in fact almost any physical activity,  utterly impossible until my ribs healed, but don't worry, it only takes a few weeks for ribs to mend and then you'll be right as rain. Just go with the flow and give your body a few weeks to mend (it took me a month)

Exactly the same for me with 4 broken ribs, except it took 6 weeks to get back on the rock - too painful before about that time. To the OP, my advice is take it easy and carefully

Andy Clarke - on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

I smashed up my rib cage very badly some years ago: all 12, some of them in several places (plus punctured lung). Luckily an innovative surgeon rebuilt it in a pioneering procedure. Even with that amount of damage I was able to get back to easy bouldering after 3 months. My surgeon's advice was essentially, you can do whatever the pain will allow. 

whenry on 08 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

When I last broke my ribs my GP (who climbs) recommended as much exercise I could cope with, as that would help the broken ribs mend (apparently the broken ends are stimulated to regenerate when they run), but not to do anything dangerous (which he defined as soloing).

Speaking from experience, I was climbing the same week that I broke them, and they healed fine; go mountain biking with broken ribs and you end up with a hell of a messy ribcage.

 

Edit: I've been told by several doctors that taping them is at best useless.

Post edited at 23:58
cb294 - on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

Never mind climbing, I was back to Judo practise (gently!) after two weeks. Kept taping up for about a month. Just apply some common sense about which moves to avoid (e.g. pulling across a roof with you injured side leading...).

CB

wbo - on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:I went to Colorado trail running for a month and broke mine on the 3rd day falling off a bike. Didn't want to waste the holiday but it was a couple of tough weeks

 

heleno - on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Clarke:

Poor you!  That sounds awful!  Glad you recovered reasonably quickly.

Andy Clarke - on 09 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

Cheers. I was more nervous about getting back to skiing than climbing, and, as another poster said, much more nervous about mountain biking.

heleno - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to cb294:

>  (e.g. pulling across a roof with you injured side leading...).

LOL - that doesn't happen even when I'm not injured!

 

cb294 - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to whenry:

Yes, quite a few medics claim that. On the other hand, look at any high profile sports event, and half the competitors will be taped somewhere. Since the stuff is quite costly, it is safe to guess that the athletes agree that there is some benefit above placebo effect levels.

FWIW, I currently use kinesiotape for a persistent bursitis / patella tendonitis in the knee, works great and the mechanism is obvious: The tension in the tape simulates some tonus in the tendon without actually putting load on it, and pulling the knee cap slightly upwards prevents it pinching the underlying bursa when extending the knee. 

For the rib injuries, the tonus effect is more important and useful for climbing or judo, but I agree it would not help coping with short compressions (skiing, mountain biking).

CB

Mark Haward - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

After multiple rib breaks, ruptured lung and several other internal injuries ( ground fall when climbing) I was able to do some easy hill walking and scrambling after 3-4 weeks. Gradually able to lift arms higher and pull more on them over a few weeks. I started gently and then built up as quickly as possible as far as pain would allow. I avoided strenuous and steep climbing to begin with, focussed on slabs and footwork.

Stone Idle - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

I sat around for 4 weeks, gentle stuff another two and then two more weeks build up. It only hurt when I laughed.

stp - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to heleno:

I remember damaging my ribs enough so that they hurt quite a bit one winter. Don't know how much damage was done as I done as I didn't bother getting them x-rayed. I decided to start climbing pretty soon after, just a few days: I didn't want to lose fitness and I think I had a free pass at my local wall I wanted to make use of too.

The first days I only top roped easy routes. Climbing was really painful. After that I started using anti-inflammatories and paracetamol which definitely helped, though it was still painful to climb. I soon got back to leading and doing harder routes and the pain subsided significantly within a couple of weeks. I doubt my ribs were actually properly broken though. Possibly cracked or even just bruised.  Despite the pain I think some irritation of such injuries is said to speed up healing. But if the bones are actually separated then I suspect you'll want to be a bit more careful to begin with.

Andy Clarke - on 10 Sep 2018
In reply to Stone Idle:

>  It only hurt when I laughed.

If you think laughing hurts, you should try taking a dump with a flail segment after a week getting constipated on hefty doses of morphine! 


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