T Nation

Broken Arm Recovery

I broke my arm 4 months ago, and it’s finally all healed up, so back to the gym for me. However, it was my weaker arm to begin with, and so now, I have even more strength/symmetry issues. What’s standard procedure here?

[quote]teteatot wrote:
I broke my arm 4 months ago, and it’s finally all healed up, so back to the gym for me. However, it was my weaker arm to begin with, and so now, I have even more strength/symmetry issues. What’s standard procedure here?[/quote]

Not a doctor, but I have experience here… This is what I learned. Mileage may vary depending on type of break and severity. When I shattered my distal radius, there were a few things I did, some good, some bad.

  • First and foremost, don’t re-break it. That sucks. Trust me. It can turn a 4 month injury into a multi-year injury. Listen to your body. If it hurts, then STOP! (Look under my photos if you want to see what happens when you ignore pain.)

  • Initially focus on mobility and getting full ROM. Make sure you can get full mobility of whichever joint was affected. “Practice” without weight (turn palm up, turn palm down for example). People might look at you funny, and it might feel like you aren’t doing anything helpful, but getting the mobility back is the critical part. You can and will get the strength back over time.

  • Odds are your grip has gone to shit from general disuse if not from the injury itself. If you can get the foam blocks and a tub of the therapy putty from your PT, do so. Or Google for it.

  • If you are worried about balance, then try dumbbell based exercises. You will go light at first.

  • Learn to distinguish between “uncomfortable” and “hurts.” Take this very slowly and carefully.

Again, not a doctor, and don’t know the extent of your injury. This is what did / didn’t work for me, but I think this is all fairly common sense stuff.

There are other posts on T-Nation about working out with only 1 arm.

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459205

Best of luck.

Thanks for the replies, using dumbbells that are a good weight for the bad arm on both arms sounds like a good idea.

The bone is fully healed now, but I still get weird aching pains in my arm when I fully exert it. I wish my doctor wasn’t so clueless sounding when I asked him about this, because I really don’t know if it’s an ok pain to push through or not.

[quote]teteatot wrote:
I wish my doctor wasn’t so clueless sounding when I asked him about this, because I really don’t know if it’s an ok pain to push through or not.[/quote]

Then you should do 2 things:

  1. Go easy until you figure out discomfort vs. real pain. My personal criteria (again not a doctor!) is whether the joint still hurts or feels stiff for longer than any muscle soreness. If so, I back off. This is something you’re going to have to figure out on your own though. Also, on the subject of pain, try to go easy on the ibuprofen unless you really need it. (Do a search.)

  2. If you are lacking confidence in your doc, get a second opinion. It’s worth it for peace of mind. It will probably be a negligible cost when you consider that you probably have a few follow-up x-rays to do this year anyway. (You’ll probably blow through any deductible pretty quickly.) My ortho is one of the best in town, and I still got a second opinion.