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How to Successfully Recover from a Broken Collar Bone and Get back to Weightlifting


In this article I explain what the best ways are to go about daily life and recover in a fast and effective way after suffering a broken collar bone. This is a common fracture and can happen from a variety of sport related accidents or falls. I will give you a brief background story as to how I broke my collar bone, recovered and went on to restart my weight lifting/bodybuilding in as little as two months. Your broken collar bone recovery will be swift if you follow the advice given.

The Accident:

It was summer 2006, I had just come back from holiday in Portugal and had a blast. House music, clubs, beaches, good food and a break from life in a metropolis. Having returned to London, I was still in the mood to party and had returned just in time for the Notting Hill Carnival, one of the most anticipated events in the English capital and perhaps around Europe. To cut a long story short, after countless drinks and a long, long day, I decided to take my bike back home. This was a pedal bike by the way, nothing motorised, but somehow I still managed to lose control going down a steep hill in the Holland Park area and as I turned a sharp corner at high speed, was throw off. I was very lucky to still have had some reflexes about me, and having shielded my headed with my arm and shoulder, landed violently on the asphalt floor. The first thing I did was check if my head was ok, I could feel an unbelievable pain in my shoulder area but the head is the most important thing. Was I concussed? did I hit my head hard? Luckily no. I then stood up and BAM! The pain was in the collar bone area but also around my right pectoral muscle and shoulder muscle (understandably as I had just suffered some serious trauma to that area of my body).

A visit to the hospital the next day (Yes i did just cycle back home and put pillows to support my back as I slept that night) confirmed my clavicle was fractured. The impact had broken the collar bone and pushed one side slightly over the other bit of bone, like when tectonic plates move. I was sad that day, knowing full well I would not be able to exercises for a while.

Treating a Broken Collar Bone:

There is not specific way to treat a broken collar bone. You must simply have your arm in a sling and avoid awkward movements. The only thing you need to ask yourself is whether you need surgery or not. In my case, I needed surgery but the doctors never informed me of the consequences of letting my collar bone heal naturally. Because of the fact that I broke it in a way that it overlapped, it meant that the fusion of bone eventually healed it but left my right side with a shorter clavicle.

Consequences of a Shorter Collar Bone: There really isn't enough information out there regarding a shortened collar bone due to fracture and healing. It can cause a series of difficulties. In my case it means that my right trapezius and pec as well as my right Rhomboid are all affected and are very difficult to target in my workouts, leaving me working extra hard just to make sure my right side catches up to my left. So be careful and do not be afraid to ask regarding your collar bone fracture as it might be a better option to have surgery and a metal plate to fix it rather than ending up lop sided.

Unfortunately you will realise how 'involved' the collar bone is in day to day activites, even if you don't use the side where the collar bone is broken. I broke my right collar bone, so reaching for a glass of water with my left arm still twisted my body slightly enough to cause pain and sometimes I could feel the bone sliding out of place again. It was horrible. Then I realised, sitting upright in a good chair with arm rests was the only way to 'sit' really. When walking, you need to take your time and avoid moving your upper body too much. Sure you will look like someone who has a wooden spine, but having the arm cradle or sling is sign enough that you are injured. You need not pay heed to the strange stares you will get, and believe me, you WILL get them. But that is no obstacle to your the recovery of your broken collar bone.

Make sure you eat healthy during this time. It is unlikely doing any sort of exercise will not affect your recovery and so it not advisable. Trust me, I have a cycling machine at home and thought it was a good idea to do some cycling for twenty minutes a day in order to at least keep some sort of fitness. Bad idea. Turns out raising your legs when doing the cycle motion will also move your collar bone, resulting in a shout of anguish at the very least. This why I say eat healthy. You are not training as before, so eat balanced meals three to four times a day max, take in your fish oils, multi vitamins and plenty of fruit and veg alongside your protein sources.

I also took glucosamine and vitamind d alongside my regular nutrition, two elements proven to help with bone and joint health. 

As previously mentioned, it is CRUCIAL that you do not keep placing stress on the collar bone while it is healing. Everytime you do so, there is a chance you are sabotaging the final result of bone formation and this can leave you with less mobility than you could achieve when avoiding the bone sliding in and out of place.

I speak from experience, as I had learned that upon recovering and being discharged by my physician, I had 96% mobility on my arm based on rotational exercises. It also shortened my reach slightly. I already had functional scoliosis due to a leg length discrepancy, but this was the icing on the cake really. It just meant that now I definitely had to find a way to adjust my bodybuilding and weightlifting workouts to suit my functional scoliosis, broken collar bone and leg length discrepancy issues.

Getting Back to Weightlifting and Bodybuilding training after a Broken Collar Bone:

First of all, you must visit the hospital you attended, or the physician in order for him/her to tell you whether you have healed or not and whether it is possible to start some sort of resistance training again. After getting the all clear, you should test your range of motion using the lightest dumbbells or an empty bar. See how it feels to do some military presses, bench work, pulling exercises such as rows. If there is not pain, then you may increase the weight SLOWLY. The key here is to take your time. Rushing to jump back to the weights you were pushing prior to your broken collar bone is futile. You will end up injuring yourself again and having to take another couple of months off. Be smart and patient. Adding weights in increments of 5kg at a time and doing a very light first workout after your hiatus is the start of your return to lifting weights after a broken collar bone.

If you have resistance bands, those are also a great way to get back into resistance training. Simply perform some push/pull exercises and see if you experience any pain. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. You may hear a popping noise but if it does not hurt, it usually is the way the bone formed when healing that causes such sounds. 

Good Luck and Train Safe!