Getting back on the bike after breaking hip

Jan 14, 2008
96
16
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Nerima, Tokyo, Japan
#1
At the beginning of April this year I broke my left hip in a cycling accident. It was on one of those very windy days that we had and I was hit by a very sudden and very strong gust of wind that took the wheels from under me. I was on the road at the time but thankfully was not hit by a car, nor did I hit my head. My bike and cycling kit both came out unscathed (further proof of the indestructability of the TCC Team kit!).

I spent five weeks in hospital after having surgery to put two pins into my hip. Now I am at home but still using crutches to get around. I am regularly seeing the physiotherapist at the hospital that I was admitted to. The bone has healed really well and the doctor is gradually increasing the amount of weight that I can place on my left leg. At my regular check up on Friday he said that he expects that I will be able to walk freely at the end of June and get back on the bike.

I want to get back on the bike as soon but also as safely as possible. I don't want to go and do something that's going to knock my recovery backwards as opposed to forwards. I am not going to even try getting back onto the bike until I have had the definite go ahead from my doctor and physiotherapist.

So, I was wondering if anyone has had any similar experiences or any advice on the best way for me to get back on the bike. Or if there is anything that I could be doing now that would help.

Also, since my physiotherapy at the hospital is focussed on getting me back to my day-to-day life and not specifically cycling , does anyone here knew of a specialist sports physiotherapist that would have experience with this sort of injury.
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
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#2
Wow! I never knew, no insight into this one but wishing you all the best with a speedy and safe recovery and return.
 
Jan 14, 2007
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Noda
japanichiban.com
#4
Ouch!
See if the physio will let you on the stationary bike under his supervision during visits. You'll have a lot of muscle atrophy in your legs so walking is going to be harder than cycling. At least both legs have probably wasted at the same rate.

Take it slow...and strong. Get in the pool for swimming to help build some aerobic fitness.
 
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stanc

Maximum Pace
Sep 4, 2011
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Brighton
#5
Sorry to hear about this. At least your bike & kit are ok :)

This is absolutely my experience. I broke my left hip badly 3.5 years ago coming off on black ice. I had four months on crutches before I was allowed to put weight on the leg. My doctors were all in favour of the bike as its non impact exercise & you are not putting weight on the joint. My advice to you is to make sure that you do all the exercises that the physio suggests as the problem will not be muscle atrophy as much as trying to get the full range of motion back into the joint due to the scar tissue. Time spent doing physio now will make things easier later. It will be painful but my doctor told me that the pain is not the hip but the scar tissue being harder than noirmal tissue so you need to push against it.
My first ride was about 4 miles incredibly slowly as soon as I was weight bearing. I could barely bend enough to reach the brake levers but I was cackling like a loony, I was so happy. Within two weeks I was doing 30/40 mile rides at a slow but increasing pace. For the first year I could only just bend enough to do up my left shoe and could not reach the drops or hold TT position. Also at the top of each pedal rev the leg would automatically rotate out, when I was on the TT bike this meant I would unclip every rotation. This has improved and now I have at least 95% of the motion I had before. I have had aches on and off but the hip has improved steadily over time and the pain has faded away.
Having a support network such as this group will help. Also having a goal can help. I promised myself I would take my bike to Japan and that kept me motivated. Now I'm saving to do it again :)

Bullet points:
When you first get on the bike you will have no strength at all.
To start with you will probably only just be able to pedal or reach the bars due to stiffness in the joint.
You may find, as I did that you need to build your confidence on the bike back up again.
You will probably have slight setbacks. For instance I got a bursitis as the muscles rubbed over the bolts in the joint. This was quite scary but not serious.
Do not expect to get back to full fitness quickly, however the joint will continue to improve over time.
Keep positive. Breaking your hip is a serious injury but being positive does help recovery.
 

jdd

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Jul 26, 2008
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#6
Maybe 16 years ago I fell and split open my hip bone (not a complete break). Spent a month in, and (here, you're lucky because you got pins, while) their technique was to wire it shut, then a second surgery to remove the wire 7 months later. Which I hope you'll be skipping!

I know you want to ride, but for comparison, I just walked and hiked a lot, and was off the bike for a good two years.
 
Jan 14, 2008
96
16
28
Nerima, Tokyo, Japan
#7
Thanks stanc. Good to hear from someone who has had the same experience. At least it gives me some idea of what to expect as I recover. Though I do understand everyone will recover from injury slightly differently.

I know it's going to be a long time before I'm anywhere near to the level I was before the accident. Just need to be realistic about what I do and patient.
 
Jan 14, 2008
96
16
28
Nerima, Tokyo, Japan
#8
Maybe 16 years ago I fell and split open my hip bone (not a complete break). Spent a month in, and (here, you're lucky because you got pins, while) their technique was to wire it shut, then a second surgery to remove the wire 7 months later. Which I hope you'll be skipping!

I know you want to ride, but for comparison, I just walked and hiked a lot, and was off the bike for a good two years.
The wiring technique doesn't sound very nice. Maybe that was common practice at that time if it was around 16 years ago. I will be having a second surgery to remove the pins, probably in about a years time depending on how things go. But I am told that it's a relatively simple surgery.

Yes, do want to ride but it will all depend on how my recovery goes. My first priority is just to be able to walk.
 

stanc

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Sep 4, 2011
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Brighton
#9
Maybe 16 years ago I fell and split open my hip bone (not a complete break). Spent a month in, and (here, you're lucky because you got pins, while) their technique was to wire it shut, then a second surgery to remove the wire 7 months later. Which I hope you'll be skipping!

I know you want to ride, but for comparison, I just walked and hiked a lot, and was off the bike for a good two years.
The surgery has come on a great deal. They use a much smaller incision now, a club mate had a hip op at about the same time as you did & his scar is at least three times the length of mine. You are right, they often dont do the second op to remove the pins, my scaffolding is still in there. I mention this when I am at airports but it doesnt trigger the metal detector. I actually found hiking more difficult due to the uneven ground, didnt stop me though :)
This is not my xray but this is what is in my hip
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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Setagaya, Tokyo
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#10
I mention this when I am at airports but it doesnt trigger the metal detector.
Most people with titanium in their bodies usually seem to have no problem with airport metal detectors.

When my uncle had a hang glider accident a number of years ago, they fixed him up with a titanium pin.

I thought metals had to be ferromagnetic (like iron and nickel) to be detected using an induction coil, but not so. Paramagnetic metals such as aluminium, magnesium and titanium also affect a magnetic field and so do diamagnetic metals such as copper, silver and gold.

doubletrouble I guess one concern is if you fall again before the bone has grown back to be as dense and strong as it was before the accident, you don't want it to shatter again. Therefore a stationary exercise bike, swimming and walking/hiking may be good alternatives to cycling for a while.
 

stanc

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Sep 4, 2011
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Brighton
#11
Most people with titanium in their bodies usually seem to have no problem with airport metal detectors.
Joe. I asked my Consultant what the metalwork was made of and was told its partly steel & partly titanium hence my comment about metal detectors. I suppose the NHS cant afford all titanium ones. Given my immense bulk I can afford to be blase about the extra weight :)
 
Jan 14, 2008
96
16
28
Nerima, Tokyo, Japan
#12
My recovery from my hip surgery has been going well, and I am now walking almost perfectly. I do have a very slight limp which is hardly noticable over short distances but is more apparent the further I walk. I can now also walk a reasonable distance and the pain is almost none existant. Plus I have been doing some swimming to help.

With this in mind I am now looking to getting back on the bike over the summer holiday period. My current bike (Boardman 9.4) is still at the Time Traveler's house so I am planning to use my old bike (Giant Defy) to practice one until I can ride the distance from his house to mine.

I spent the day sorting out the bike as it has not been used for some time and I wanted to try and make it as safe as possible so as not to cause my self any more injury. Since I have had surgery and I have taken the clipless pedal off of the left side of the bike (the side of my surgery) and put on a normal platform pedal as I think this would be easier for when I dismount. I have kept the clipless pedals on the right. But would it be better to take these off as well for the time being?

I have also put the seat down a little so that my feet are nearer the ground. Does anyone know if there is anything else that would help with regards to the set up of the bike?

When I do get back on the bike I will be taking it as easy as possible and gradually building up the distance.

Once I get the Boardman back I plan to have a proper fitting as this is something that I probably should have done a long time ago but at the moment I don't have the money for it (three months off work with no sick pay).
 
Likes: kiwisimon
May 22, 2007
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halffastcycling.com
#14
Since I have had surgery and I have taken the clipless pedal off of the left side of the bike (the side of my surgery) and put on a normal platform pedal as I think this would be easier for when I dismount. I have kept the clipless pedals on the right. But would it be better to take these off as well for the time being?.
I would definitely suggest that you not mix-and-match pedals. Use two regular (flat, platform) pedals for now. You will know when your body is ready to go hardcore again.

Great to hear that you are up and about once again.

Are you doing bodyweight squats as part of your rehab regimen?
 

joewein

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Oct 25, 2011
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#15
I have also put the seat down a little so that my feet are nearer the ground.
I'm curious about that one. Did anybody recommend that?

Lots of Japanese bikes are set up with ridiculously low saddles. Parents and teachers seem to think that unless your feet will reach the ground while still seated on the saddle the bike setup is too risky. I never understood that. It's easy enough to slide off the seat and then as long as your legs will reach the ground when you're standing over the top tube the bike won't fall over. On the other hand I have always found that unless the saddle is high enough that the leg is not almost fully extended in the bottom pedal position, I end up with knee pain if I ride anything but very short distances at low intensities. On most non-road bikes the seat post is not enough long enough for a proper setup.
 

TimeTraveler

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Feb 6, 2012
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#16
Once I get the Boardman back I plan to have a proper fitting as this is something that I probably should have done a long time ago but at the moment I don't have the money for it (three months off work with no sick pay).
doubletrouble, your bike looks a bit lonely for its owner. It would be great to see you and it on the road again.

Well, having your bike here since April I have noticed that you have a long reach to your handlebars. I definitely recommend Chuck's bike fitting services. He has fitted me on two bikes and in both cases my performance and comfort were significantly improved.
 

stanc

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Sep 4, 2011
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Brighton
#17
Glad to hear that you are healing well. One thing you might find, when I got first back on the bike I developed a bursitis in the hip area which scared the hell out of me but didnt need any treatment at all. You should find that you can build the distance on the bike up quite rapidly. However I have found it much harder to regain my confidence, especially on descents.
 
Jan 14, 2008
96
16
28
Nerima, Tokyo, Japan
#18
I would definitely suggest that you not mix-and-match pedals. Use two regular (flat, platform) pedals for now. You will know when your body is ready to go hardcore again.

Great to hear that you are up and about once again.

Are you doing bodyweight squats as part of your rehab regimen?
Okay, will change both pedals then. Not doing bodyweight squats but have just researched them on the net and they sound like the would help, especially with the muscles in the thighs.

I'm curious about that one. Did anybody recommend that?

Lots of Japanese bikes are set up with ridiculously low saddles. Parents and teachers seem to think that unless your feet will reach the ground while still seated on the saddle the bike setup is too risky. I never understood that. It's easy enough to slide off the seat and then as long as your legs will reach the ground when you're standing over the top tube the bike won't fall over. On the other hand I have always found that unless the saddle is high enough that the leg is not almost fully extended in the bottom pedal position, I end up with knee pain if I ride anything but very short distances at low intensities. On most non-road bikes the seat post is not enough long enough for a proper setup.
I've seen alot of these two where the saddle is incredibly low. I wasn't thinking so much of the bike being more risky or it falling over. I thought that it would be easier when stopping if I could put my leg on the ground when sitting as this wouldn't put too much pressure on the hip. When sliding of the saddle this would put my whole weight onto my hip. It wouldn't do any damage to the hip but the only time I feel any pain at the moment is when I make sudden movements so if I stopped a little too suddenly this might cause some pain. At least that was my logic. I only put the saddle down a fraction anyway just so that I can just about reach the ground when seated.

When I dismount I usually put my left leg down first, so it would probably be best if I try and train myself to put my right down first.

doubletrouble, your bike looks a bit lonely for its owner. It would be great to see you and it on the road again.

Well, having your bike here since April I have noticed that you have a long reach to your handlebars. I definitely recommend Chuck's bike fitting services. He has fitted me on two bikes and in both cases my performance and comfort were significantly improved.
Oh no! The bike's looking lonely... Will definitely have to do something about that;)

The reach to my bars is shorter than what it was when I bought the bike as I have replaced the stem with the shorter one. But a proper fitting is certainly in order when I can afford it and will definitely be going to Chuck for it as he has been highly recommended a lot of times on TCC.

Glad to hear that you are healing well. One thing you might find, when I got first back on the bike I developed a bursitis in the hip area which scared the hell out of me but didnt need any treatment at all. You should find that you can build the distance on the bike up quite rapidly. However I have found it much harder to regain my confidence, especially on descents.
Thanks again, Stanc. I remember reading in your first post that you got a bursitis and I have read up a little bit on the subject since then, so hopefully it I get one too I won't be panicking too much. Confidence is definitely going to be a big problem I know. I'm going to try and gradually work my way up to doing what I was doing before the accident.
 

stanc

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Sep 4, 2011
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Brighton
#19
Oops, forgot I'd mentioned it before. The odd thing is that you never know when the damn thing is going to ache. For instance today mine hurt for the first 20km after months of not even a twinge. After that it was fine for the rest of the ride. Take it gently :)