Injury Recovery is Serious Business

This is not how I envisioned finishing SSWC

My 2018 race season ended with an exclamation point.  Not the tattoo I hoped to sport from a victory at Single Speed World Championships (SSWC), but with a broken clavicle in pursuit of said tattoo. After a few days of tears, moping around, and various medical appointments it was time to focus on my training.  “What, back to a regimented training plan?” Well no… and yes. This block of work is filled with things to heal my injury. Here is what I am doing:

Coffee in the hot tub is the more enjoyable part of contrast bathing

Medicine: My Orthopedist immobilized my clavicle and is monitoring it to make sure the bone is aligned and healing. He also has me doing some home-care to speed up my recovery.

  • I am contrast bathing to pump circulation through my healing site and flush out inflammation by going back and forth between hot and cold.  I do this 2-3 times a day: first thing in the morning (with coffee in hand), after work, and before bed. To contrast bath I am soaking in my hot tub for 2-5 minutes, then jumping into a cold shower (or roll around in the snow) for 1-2 minutes for 3 cycles a session.
  • For pain relief I am not taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, etc.).  These COX-1 and 2 inhibitors dull pain, but they also delay bone healing. For the first few days I took Tylenol instead.
  • Naps. I am taking plenty of naps! The hormones that drive healing are released during sleep. Getting 8 hours of good nighttime sleep is important, but hard to do when I wake up every time I move. Naps can fill in the gaps and reduce stress hormones which also slow healing.
  • I am asking for help. I hate this. Yes, I can figure out how to wield a vacuum, but it will likely tweak my clavicle. It’s not worth it, so I am asking for help. And surprise-surprise, the people in my life are happy to be able to do something for me.
  • I believe complementary medicine assists my healing. It could be placebo, but even that is very powerful. I am getting acupuncture and massage (circulatory around my clavicle and deep tissue to the rest of my upper body) weekly to increase my healing potential and manage pain.
Elder the Cat really likes that I’m embracing cat naps

Rest: My injury is well timed. SSWC was my last race of the season to be followed by a light month before I start my build for the 2019 season. My off month (or two) is way more off than I expected, but this is a blessing in disguise.

  • I’ve not been off my bike for more than 3-4 days in over 5 years. Not pedaling for a few weeks will let my body repair the repetitive stress from all the biking, reducing my risk of injury down the road.
  • In this off phase I will lose my top end speed, power, and strength.  However, gains in these need cyclical builds to make big gains over time.
  • My base endurance will not disappear! If I keep active, even in an easy aerobic state for 1-2 hours a day I will not lose much aerobic fitness and rebuilding will be a quick and easy process.
Hiking up to the South Sister

Exercise: Yes, exercise! Not only does getting my heart rate up increase the circulation to my healing clavicle, but gentle jostling of my clavicle stimulates the repair process. Exercise is a huge part of my life (20 hrs/week) and filling this void is good for my mental health too. My CTS coach has come up with training that compliments my big picture cycling goals and will keep my head in the game. Here is what Coach is having me do:

  • I am walking. I usually bike everywhere, even two blocks to the grocery store…and now I walk; briskly. If I walk all my commuting routes daily it is translating into two hours a day of walking. Bonus: there are a lot of apple and pear trees in my neighborhood and I have sampled them all to find the best ones!
  • On weekends I am hiking but making sure I am on terrain that I am highly unlikely to take a fall on. I’ve done several local hikes to places I had no idea were in my backyard.
  • I am doing breathwork. Some of it is meditation-based and some of it is while I’m walking. The walking breathwork is designed to increase my CO2 tolerance. I’m excited to see the benefits of this as soon as I’m given the green light to ski tour at altitude.
  • I cross-train by skiing (Alpine, ski touring, and Nordic) in the winter.  Lower body strength is important for these. I am doing all sorts of walking strength training drills Coach Durner fondly calls “Lunge-Fest.”
  • My Pilates practice is still in full force, but obviously has to be modified for no upper body motion. This work is making sure I continue to train my dynamic stability, range of motion, and small muscle strength.

Diet: This is NOT the time to try and lose a few pounds. It takes a lot of energy (calories) to heal bone and being depleted will slow my bone repair. I have made a few tweaks to my diet to ensure I have all the nutrients to repair the damage and don’t gain weight.

  • Bone is a protein matrix that hardens with mineral crystals. I am increasing my protein by 10g/day. I am focusing on lean and “good fat” proteins such as chicken and salmon and a plant-based protein shake. I am also using a collagen powder.
  • My need for carbohydrates is not as great as when I am training, but they are still important. I am reducing/eliminating all simple carbohydrates (sugars, processed grains such as flour and white rice) and replacing them with whole grains (rolled oats and barley ,for example) and carbohydrate dense vegetables (sweet potatoes and rutabagas).
  • I am making sure I have ample minerals available for bone growth. I increase foods rich in these minerals and take a supplement as well.
Calcium and Phosphorus are the primary elements of bone mineral crystals. Eat dairy, soy, Omega-3 rich fish (sardines, salmon, etc.), dark leafy greens, and almonds.
Copper is a key component in the protein bone matrix.Eat oysters, sesame seeds, cashews and shiitake mushrooms.
Silicon is a catalyst for making bone protein matrix.Eat onions, whole wheat berries/ winter wheat, and cucumbers.
Zinc is needed to harden healing bone.Eat lentils, garbanzos and turkey/ wild game.
  • Several vitamins are also needed to build bone.
Vitamin B6 is needed for vitamin K to do its job.Eat avocados, bananas and potatoes
Vitamin C is essential in making the protein matrix of bone and reduces inflammation.Eat bell peppers, Brussel sprouts, and kiwi.
Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and stimulated bone stem cells to make bone.Eat red fleshed fish (trout, salmon, etc.) and brown mushrooms.
Vitamin K binds calcium to the protein matrix in the mineral crystallization process.Eat fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi), leafy greens, and asparagus.
Weekend get-away at the Oregon Coast with Joe

Mental Superpower: My attitude toward injury and recovery may be the most important factor to my healing. This doesn’t mean that everything is all rainbows and sunshine, but taking the time to find the benefits of injury recovery and taking an active role in my healing process will set me up for a strong base building phase for the 2019 season. I do get bummed that I am missing out on some biking plans I had made but am instead taking weekend trips to the coast or desert and dedicating more time to local cycling advocacy projects like the Big Sky Bike Park expansion. Just like in bike racing, a disadvantage can be made into an advantage with strategy and smart execution. Look out 2019 MTB racers, I am going to be a force to be reckoned with!

2 thoughts on “Injury Recovery is Serious Business

  1. So sorry to hear about your injury but what a great attitude and plan. Keep up the positive attitude. Speed healing to you. Loved the picture of you with your face full of dirt. I have had that same picture several times- unfortunately.
    Miss you. Soni


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