Broken Elbow Recovery

Looking for advice on what I can do to work around a broken elbow. Recently got the post-surgery cast off, and am proud owner of a new plate and screws and a wicked looking scar.

Given that the doctors have told me that I have to baby the elbow for the next month to 6 weeks, what can I do to at least maintain my upper body? I cannot do anything that puts pressure on the elbow joint or muscles that attach to it, so no bench, chins, dips, push ups, pull downs, presses etc. I also don’t want to be limited to lifting on my ‘good side’ and end up like that KFC commercial guy who didn’t rotate his sandwich holding hand.

Thanks for the help.

If the doctor is limiting you to not doing any activity that puts pressure on the elbow joint or muscles that attach to it, you pretty much can’t do much of anything with that arm. Grip work - muscles attach to elbow so you can’t really hold onto anything of significant weight with that hand. Biceps and triceps are a no brainer. Shoulder flexion/extension are assisted by the biceps/triceps respectively and thus will create tension on the elbow.

I am going to suggest doing exactly what you said you did not want to do. Lift with your uninjured, healthy arm. In the 4-6 week time frame you will not develop any huge imbalances and will actually help your injured arm recover to its previous level of activity quicker due to neural pattern crossovers that occur from training your uninjured arm.

I actually broke my elbow in April 2009, and I have personal experience in the matter.

Yeah, as is said above, you pretty much cant use the broken arm for a while. And to be perfectly honest, I suffered significant atrophy in a surprisingly short time. The road to bringing your bad arm up to par is a long one. Find a good physical therapist, and be very consistent with the physical therapy. I do not know the nature of your break, but mine required my elbow to be immobilized and locked at about a 90 degree angle for several weeks. This cause my biceps tendon to shorten and limit my range of extension. To this day I still cannot full extend my arm unless I warm it up, massage it, and stretch it thoroughly, however, I am only lacking a few degrees now thanks to aggressive physical therapy. Just be patient, I know the whole thing sucks.

Oh also really watch out when pressing: I noticed that since my elbow was weak, my shoulder would try and compensate, and I ended up hurting my shoulder.

As far as your question on training, just do whatever the hell you can. I pretty much did a full upperbody workout with one arm, a lot of leg pressing and gluteham raise for legs, some DB snatching…just get creative. Perhaps use this forced reduction in training as a time to scale back and rest for a little bit.