Cracked ribs and kitesurfing don’t go hand in hand, except for the fact that one can lead to the other, or, if you have one, at some point you’ll find yourself wondering when you can do the other.
I cracked my ribs three weeks ago in Scotland. I was SUPing at the time; dived over the front of the board as I went over a closeout that was too steep to paddle over, didn’t dive high enough and the board got flicked up into my ribs. Ridiculous way to injure yourself, but then it’s always like that isn’t it? The key learning point here is always step off your board sideways if you’re going to bail when paddling out.
Anyway, other than taking it easy waiting for the ribs to heal it’s not really a big deal as I’ve got plenty of other things to do, and as ever, there’s always someone around who’s worse off than you. Sadly this is happens to be a friend of mine. I saw him at the beach yesterday, he was hobbling around. Last week he was sat on his moped at a junction waiting to pull out when a car hit him from behind. He woke up on a spinal board in the back of an ambulance. Happily, his vertebrae is all intact but he is suffering from damage to the soft tissue, discs and nerves and in considerable pain. I knew from the start my ribs will fully heal, it’s a minor injury. My friend is having doubts as to what sort of return to normality he will make.
Exercises you can do with cracked ribs
So cracked ribs; painful, inconvenient, but I’ll be I’m still in the 10% of the population when it comes to mobility and fitness. And, it’s given me chance to discover what you can and can’t do with regards to cracked ribs. Obviously every case is different and I’m not a doctor, so this is just what I can do, but it may give you some ideas if you pick up a similar injury. Here’s what I can / can’t do:
Kitesurfing – now, I have kitesurfed twice since the injury. Once with a big kite, and once with a small kite. I thought the big kite would be easier since I would have to move it less but it was agony, taking relatively longer as it did to redirect the pressure on my ribs was too much. The smaller kite on the other hand was more comfortable. Obviously I was using both kites in their required wind strength so the pull can be assumed to be similar.
Body dragging – absolute agony. Stupid leash string came undone (when does that ever happen?!) and I had to drag after my surfboard. The harness lifts up around the ribcage, awful.
Surfing – paddled out once at a perfect Hebridean point break. Flat water paddling was hard, choppy water was painful. Popping up was very difficult because you really press your ribs down onto the board to pick the wave up. I caught one wave and limped off in.
I would say that kiting and surfing did stall the healing process but didn’t set it back. I decided to go out since they were my last opportunities in Scotland and I knew I’d be having a lay-up at home.
Walking – long walks are good; there’s a slight nagging under the ribs but walking has proven to be a good way of burning energy and not sitting around all day.
Running – can’t do it. The bouncing impact jars the ribs.
Apnea training – I can hold my breath, but can’t take a full lungful of air so I suppose the end result is the same but I don’t find it an effective training technique for now.
Press ups – can’d do one. Pain stops me in my tracks.
Chin ups – same as above.
Sit ups – can sit up to get out of bed, or a chair, not as painful as chins but I wouldn’t chance doing repetitions.
Weights – I stopped resistance training three years ago but recently picked up some light dumbbells to see what I could do. Concentration bicep curls are OK, shoulder flies are better. Standing tricep extensions are OK, and so are squats with the very light weight. The weight is about 6kg, but with proper form and very slow, isolated movements you can get a terrific burn and feel all sore the next day. Shoulder presses are off the menu for now.
I’m taking ibuprofen to keep the swelling down and am surprised to discover that it has a huge effect on reducing pain, unlike when you self medicate for a hangover and it does bugger all, lol. Keeping the swelling down helps recovery I’m told as it helps the transport of vitamins and minerals to the repair site (something like that).