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Riding While Injured… Helpful or Harmful?

January 2019
« Dec   Feb »

I had a fall Tuesday evening, taking the garbage to the curb of all things. We had better than 250 pounds in the can and I stumbled. The weight of the off-kilter wheeled garbage can pulled me down instantly. My skinned knees doubled in size. I have a fair gash in my right middle finger knuckle, and my thumb, pointer and ring fingers are skinned. My glasses were bent, but thankfully not scratched. To round it off, my back was tweaked pretty good, too.

The knees are bruised, but there’s nothing grinding around in there. Still, I was hobbled a little bit Wednesday.

So, I pulled into the driveway after work and contemplated whether or not to ride.  Movement may hurt, but I know darn good and well it will also loosen me up.

I rode on the trainer and it sucked… until I stepped out of the shower. The pain dulled after sitting on the couch for ten minutes, continuing with my movie.  My wife came home with the kids (from swim practice) and some pizza.  We ate dinner together and I went back to the couch to finish Inception.

Awesome movie, by the way.

I drifted off to sleep shortly after 8, went to bed around midnight, and slept till 3 (that’s seven hours for the math challenged)… and woke up feeling 75% better than when I fell asleep.  My legs, especially my knees, showed significant improvement on waking up.  The twinge in my back eased up considerably and I almost feel pretty good again.

All in one night and because of one ride on the trainer – and I thought about quitting five times in the first ten minutes.  I have no doubt, I couldn’t have improved that much in one night had I just taken a day off and “rested” on the couch.

The question, of course, is when one really needs time off from exercise to heal and when one should muscle through it.  I like to err on the side of the latter, though I’m no doctor.  I think there’s a little too much “take two weeks off” and not enough “rub some dirt on it, you’ll be fine.”  But that might just be me.


  1. Tony says:

    Sorry to hear about your fall. Been there; done that. As a rider who is also not a doctor, I tend to agree with you about getting some movement into the old body. I would have made the same decision. I think it is also more important for senior folks to get some exercise in as we have more degeneration going on. There is also the old cliche – use it or lose it. Glad to hear you are recovering well.

  2. Your experience with a healing ride is what I have also experienced. A ride loosens up muscles that tighten up after trauma. My lower back has been an issue for decades and the only cure when it tightens up is a ride. I had to quit playing softball two years ago because of the back, had to accept that the back wouldn’t be right. A ride would loosen the back up for a few hours, but then it would tighten up again after an at bat or two.

  3. Sheree says:

    Glad to hear you’re feeling much better.

  4. OmniRunner says:

    That’s a tough question. I know people who kept on running when they had pneumonia. They didn’t know it at the time but they should have.
    I run when I’m injured I just slow down or cut back on the distance.
    Exercising when you’re sick is different than an injury. I’m no doc either but you should probably let your body recover from the flu or bad cold. Those conditions suck the energy out of you anyway. So how good of a workout are you going to get?
    If my knees were swollen I might not have gone out for a run, but it sounds like it was the right decision for you.
    Like so many questions in sports “it depends” and “we’re all different.”

    • bgddyjim says:

      Riding while sick is a whole different topic… For cold and flu, I always stick with “if my hair hurts, I’m on the couch”. Otherwise, I’m riding. ;D

  5. I rode on the trainer/indoor bike after breaking my hand back on November 18th. With a cast, I couldn’t grip the bars safely while leading class or training by myself. So, I retooled my set up to ride aero – even picked up aero bars for my Trek. I reckoned I ride in the drops more often than not, I shouldn’t have a problem.

    Ah, no. While I have the hamstring flexibility for the position, the Ring of Fat Theory fully applies here.

    Did it heal faster? Maybe. However, a 5th metacarpal fracture can heal twisted if it’s not fully immobilized, even in a cast, which is what happened, sadly. My own fault, because I can’t take a break from life/work/childcare and kept attempting to do stuff. Like open doors, or tie shoelaces, or put non-elastic waist pants on by myself.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Ring of Fat… I love it! And sadly, have it a little bit. It healed twisted, though? That has to be a pain in the butt! Err, hand.

      For a break like that, I doubt it’d heal faster for staying fit, but I’ll guarantee you that your mental health benefited from riding. I’d be willing to bet my lunch, you and I are a lot alike that way.

      • I’d agree with that. If they put me in a cast that couldn’t get wet, I’d have killed someone by now. Sadly, with today’s FTP assessment, I have a long way to go to get back to where I was in October.

  6. hate to hear of your fall. ive ridden injured and also took breaks when injured. honestly ive learned its better to heal first rather than make the problems worse. get to feeling better and i hope you had an awesome holidays

    • bgddyjim says:

      I did, thank you – and I hope you had a great time too… though I’d be willing to bet you’re a little tired after the first three days trying to keep a 400+ mile a week pace.

      • yup im wore out. i have 210 miles in at the moment and another 240 mile minimum scheduled to be completed by sunday afternoon 🙂

      • bgddyjim says:

        It should start getting a little easier tomorrow. We do a four-day 385 mile ride every September and Day 2 is always roughest. We start coming around on day three. Keep it up!

  7. joliesattic says:

    Sorry about the fall, glad you’re on the mend.

  8. Damn chores can be dangerous, but I’m glad to read you’re on the mend and already feeling better. Keeping moving when injured is key to not seizing up. I’ve always found resting after hurting myself sets me back a few days, whereas pushing through helps. Hope you’re back to 100% soon.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I’m close this morning… most of the aches are gone. Now it’s just waiting for that gash on my knuckle to heal up. That’s proving a little tough going. Thanks, brother.

  9. capejohn says:

    There is a place between taking two weeks off and rub some dirt on it. We know when we “get back on the saddle too soon”.

    On the movie front. I enjoyed the movie “Vice”.

  10. capejohn says:

    No Kool-Aid but I am impressed that you agree with the opinions of WaPo and the NYT. Me too.

    • bgddyjim says:

      I wouldn’t get too carried away. I only throw those examples out there as a way of saying, “Look, when you’ve lost the Times and the Post, two Democrat Party organs, you know something’s wrong”. Both newspapers have a funny way of leaving out the “reality” half of the story – and anyone who would publish an article written by Paul Krugman is plain old nuts.

      • capejohn says:

        I read the NYT to get vetted, researched and non partisan news. We have the Boston Herald and the NY Post to read if we want childish Fox News type trash. Every thing is covered around here from the News That’s Fit to Print, to Right Wing, Jr. High whining.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Ignorance must he bliss, brother. I

      • capejohn says:

        I was only talking of those two newspapers. They have childish front page photos of things like Senator Clinton behind bars. President Obama morphed into Hitler. Senator Warren in Indian Headdress. Very low class.

  11. Sue Slaght says:

    Sorry to hear about the fall Jim. Those chores can be hard on a person. My motto is if the activity causes severe stabbing pain it’s best to stop. But agreed keeping things loosened up can be helpful. Hope you heal quickly.

  12. Oh my goodness! Just goes to show, household chores are dangerous! This is a cautionary tale and exactly why I will need a flamethrower to clear out the winter from my driveway. (Even though you didn’t mention ice or snow, I could embellish the tale just a bit to try to convince my husband that I need the flamethrower, not a snowblower, for wintertime. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t gotten much of anything “winter” here in central Ohio. haha!) I digress. I agree with you. Too much take time off and not enough just get it done for simple injuries/colds. There’s a place for taking time away from fitness activity to rest and heal, but it’s not always the case. Anyway, I hope you are feeling better! Have a great weekend!

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