T Nation

Broken Leg

That’s right, I broke my left leg yesterday. It’s pretty bad. I’ll have surgery next week to put my lower leg and ankle back together.

Since I’ve never had a broken bone or surgery before- I’ll take any guideance that is out there.

Anyone been there and done that??

 Sorry to hear that, I dont know about what to do pre-op but post-op follow the doctors intructions for taking care of the leg.
 If you picked a good doc he wont steer you wrong. After that if you are assigned to physical therapy, do it!
  I dated a physical therapist for a long time and she said the most frustrating thing was people not doing the excersises prescribed, the reason being the didnt heal as well as the could have and would regain as much function, also the would often get re-injured.
  No I know people say all the time that "oh my doc doesnt know what hes talkng about...." well then you shouldnt be seen by that doc or therapist. I have heard from people that follow through with therapy that the healing process if faster and more complete. My two cents anyhow...good luck. 

Sorry to hear about your injury. I’m still healing from a leg injury; a P.A. speaker fell on my left thigh which was extended sideways on a ramp at the time (early January). No broken bones but a significant amount of soft tissue damage and some MCL damage. I know it’s not as serious as your injury but the training downtime is a common factor. So, I can pass along what has worked for me.

I took a few days totally off training altogether. When I got back to the gym, it was light upper body work only - this was one of the few times I was thankful for selectorised machines and the Smith machine. Triceps and Abs felt overtrained from constant work on crutches. After about 3 weeks, I took my daughter’s skateboard in and used it to support my left leg while I rowed with my right. That was the only way I could get any cardio training.

As my leg has progressed, so has my training stamina and intensity. I think that the body will dedicate its resources to heal, so trying to force it into intense training before it is ready will be counter-productive, if not impossible.

I agree that physiotherapy is very important. We may know all about the exercises and stretching they’ll prescribe but they have modalities like ultrasound and laser treatment to help prevent the build-up of scar tissue.

Because I’m 44 years old, I was concerned that it would prove too difficult to get back into top shape once I was 100%. Integrating whatever cardio I could manage and being dilligent about diet has helped me to maintain muscularity and I think the drop in bodyweight of 4-5lb. is due to atrophy of my left leg which I anticipate will come back as soon as I can train legs heavily again.

Good luck with your surgery and recovery. It’s a trying time but T-men have resolve.

Atreides, also sorry to hear about the leg. I’m sure its advice you don’t need, but look into the nutrients needed by the damaged tissues, as well as things like calcium, vitamin C and zinc, to make sure all the right materials are present at all times.

Also, I think a lot of modern recovery advice points to using the damaged body parts (AS APPROPRIATE) early, so they are stressed as per natural use, which seems to promote more complete healing. This is likely to be painful as scar tissue and other material is stretched and flexed.

Judging by your posts, the amount of weight you push, you may have to hold yourself back from working out on the limb in the early stages – I’m sure you are no stranger to physical effort and related discomfort. So, really, I’m only talking about things like limping on it, or moving your ankle back and forth or side to side, working towards the range of motion of your other foot, for example.

Your doctor and physiotherapist should have all this stuff down, but it never hurts to look around and see for yourself. Oh yeah, based on your training history, I’m guessing they will be shocked at your speed of recovery. The standard “schedule” may have to be sped up a bit. Anyway, I’ll bet there is scads of stuff around on the net.

Keep us informed of your progress.

Sorry to hear about your leg. It sucks to be injured so close to a meet. I would encourage to you begin training the right leg independently as soon as you can (ie whenever the left can be weight bearing) even if that means nothing more than leg curls. There is plenty of evidence that support training the uninjured limb helps the other maintain greater stregth and muscle mass. Cressey reviewed on of these studines in “Rhode Island Roundup” a couple of years ago on this site. I’ve used it myself when when I seprated a shoulder (an even better story than yours) Best of luck.
old dogg

Just a quick note to say sorry

I ruptured a bicep and getting back was not easy. I’m 50 and heal slower than I used to!

Just remember, if doc says it is OK, nothing says you can’t work you upper body!

Hang tough. Broken bones are tough. Like the other guys have said, listen closely to what your Doc says. It would be good to get a Doctor that leans toward ‘Sports Medicine’. Those guys seem to have some idea that you want to do more than sit on a couch once your leg is healed. I’ve broken my leg twice and it’s critical to listen to the Docs and Physical Therapists. It won’t be easy but you will get back. Good luck.


See if you can get a vit c/asprin infusion. it will reduce inflamation. Vit c has some interesting affects when taken parentally.

Artreides, I’m sorry to hear about that. Here’s something I wrote up for another one of our forums:

[center]Pre-Surgery / Post-Surgery Protocol[/center]

The goal of the following protocol is to speed up healing following surgery and to minimize the formation of scars and adhesions. People who implement the nutritional recommendations given below before and after surgery typically heal much more quickly than normal, with less pain and swelling and fewer complications.

Except for the Arginine and Wobenzym, all supplements should be taken with food. Arginine and Wobenzym should be taken on an empty stomach.

Quality Nutrition w/ Sufficient Protein

Protein (like chicken, fish or lean ground beef) is broken down after it is eaten into amino acids. Amino acids are necessary for all phases of wound healing. Protein also supports the immune system, helping to prevent infection. It has been shown in more than one study that protein depletion before surgery is a risk factor in wound infection.

Quality fats and carbohydrates are also needed to supply the extra energy needed for healing and repair and to prevent lean muscle from being used for energy. Water, too, is necessary to replace losses through vomiting, bleeding, wound discharge and fever. Vitamins and minerals also play key roles in the healing process.

Small amounts of protein should be eaten at each and every meal. Recommendations (if you’re counting, weighing, measuring) are 1g of protein per pound of body weight. http://www.fitday.com is an online resource that will tell you how many grams of protein are found in different serving sizes of protein. Registration is free.


Even though Arginine is not one of the eight essential amino acids, it is still well known for its ability to speed up wound healing and improve immune function. Supplementing with Arginine three to seven days before surgery and for one week post-surgery reduces nitrogen excretion. The significance of reduced nitrogen excretion is that it is proof that protein (amino acids) is being used for building and repair and that lean muscle mass is being maintained and not used for repair. In addition, supplementing with Arginine increases the amount collagen synthesized at the wound site and the activity and efficiency of T-lymphocytes (white blood cells).

Take 20g in divided doses – i.e., 5g four times per day – on an empty stomach. An “empty stomach” is defined as 30 to 45 minutes before a meal or two hours after a meal. Since it is not particularly pleasant tasting, capsules are probably best.

Aloe Vera (Juice and/or Topical Application)

Aloe vera contains up to 200 different substances beneficial to the human body, including enzymes, glycoproteins, growth factors, vitamins, and minerals. Aloe vera provides micronutrients required for protein synthesis, reduces inflammation and pain, promotes healing and stops infection. Some of its components cause cells to divide and multiply while other components stimulate the growth of white blood cells. Aloe vera also enhances cell wall permeability, increasing the uptake of nutrients at a cellular level as well as the removal of toxins. Aloe vera can be used on the skin and/or taken as a juice; 2 ounces of concentrated aloe vera with 6-ounces of juice.

Zinc & Copper

Zinc and copper are two very important minerals that promote wound healing. Since they antagonize or oppose each other, they should be taken at least two hours apart. Copper speeds up the healing of broken bones and also plays a part in the creation of new, strong collagen. Even though high-dose copper supplementation is not normally recommended because of the fact that it generates too much free-radical activity in the body (not a good thing), short-term, therapeutic supplementation post-surgery is highly beneficial and appropriate. Post-surgery, free radicals fight bacteria and dispose of dead tissue.

Copper should be taken at a dosage of 8 mg per day for a limited time only (during healing). Zinc should be taken at a dosage of 90 mg per day. Be sure to account for anything you’re getting in your multi-vitamin.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays a variety of roles in the healing process. It stimulates the immune system, supports the adrenals, enhances wound healing, plays a critical role in the repair/building of collagen and bone healing, and quenches excessive free-radical activity. What’s not to love!

Since Vitamin C is water soluble, the body excretes anything it doesn’t need. Divided doses in small amounts are far superior to a single large dose. Take 500 mg of Vitamin C with every meal, up to 6 times per day. The dosage recommendations are IN ADDITION TO what is found in your multi-vitamin.


Wobenzym is what is called a systemic oral enzyme. It is a product that has a complex of proteolytic enzymes. A proteolytic enzyme helps break down protein. If taken with a meal, it acts as a digestive enzyme (digesting protein only). Taken on an empty stomach, Wobenzym helps with protein synthesis, turnover and the repair of damaged protein structures. It is a wonderful supplement for joints in general. Post-surgery, it reduces pain, inflammation, swelling and internal bleeding. Wobenzym has been used in Europe for over 20 years in surgery and traumatology and has hundreds of studies proving safety and efficacy.

Wobenzym should be used pre- and post-surgery. Prior to surgery, take 10 tablets 3 times per day on an empty stomach. Once again, an empty stomach is defined as 30 to 45 minutes before a meal or two hours after a meal. Wobenzym should continue to be taken at the same dosage for at least a week post-surgery.

The only known contraindication for enzyme therapy is in patients who are at risk of post-operative hemorrhage because of blood coagulation deficiency, heavy bleeders, or those who suffer from hyperfibrinolysis or severe liver cirrhosis. However, enzyme therapy can be used before and after most surgeries.

MSM & Glucosamine HCl

MSM is like Vitamin C. It’s a wonder supp. MSM is a type of sulfur that is highly bioavailable to the body. It’s often seen in arthritis formulas, along with Glucosamine HCl. MSM plays a critical role in making collagen, the primary constituent of cartilage and connective tissue. That’s the main reason for its inclusion into this protocol. However, the list of benefits goes on. MSM keeps the blood vessels and structures of the body elastic. It keeps cell walls permeable so that nutrients can freely flow into the cells and wastes and toxins can easily be removed. MSM is able to get past the blood-brain barrier and helps the brain cells to more efficiently utilize glucose, resulting in higher levels of alertness. In fact, taken too late, MSM can prevent a person from sleeping. MSM tends to reduce or eliminate allergic reactions to foods, chemicals and inhaled allergens. MSM helps detoxify the body.

MSM can cause an upset stomach if the body is not allowed to adjust. The first day, 2 g should be taken in the morning and at dinner. The second day, 3 g should be taken in the morning and at dinner. The third day 4g should be taken in the morning and at dinner. The fourth day, 5 g should be taken in the morning and at dinner. Because of its energizing effects, MSM should not be taken right before bed.

Since Glucosamine HCl is well known for its ability to protect and repair joints by providing the body with the substrates it needs to rebuild damaged joints, I’ll not sing its praises here. It should be included at a dose of 1.5 grams per day, taken twice a day. Glucosamine HCl and MSM should be continued for at least four months post-surgery. It takes that long to see the full benefits of Glucosamine HCl supplementation.


And finally, the foundation on which all of the above recommendations are made? A good mult-ivitamin started before and continued after surgery. A good multivitamin is defined as a multi that needs to be taken two (good) or three (much better) times a day.

Vitamins and minerals are cofactors in enzymatic processes in the body; in breaking things down and in building/repair/storage. All processes in the body continue up to the point that a necessary nutrient for the process has been used up and is no longer available. A multi-vitamin should be used by all people on a daily basis as “insurance,” but it is particularly important to anyone preparing for and recovering from surgery.

Standard Disclaimer

This protocol should not, under any circumstances, be implemented without first consulting with your doctor. In fact, prior to surgery, your doctor should be aware of any supplements and medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and pain relievers.

[center]* . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . * . *[/center]

Along with supplements that support the healing process, there is also something called a bone growth stimulator. You might want to talk to your doc about it or a DC you trust. Do a search on PEMF. It stands for Pulsating ElectroMagnetic Fields.

Ultrasound, if it’s paid for by your insurance would be something else to consider if the former isn’t available.

Being the alternatively minded individual that I am, I would take advantage of any homeopathic resources in the area. I’m lucky enough to have someone who’s a certified homeopath that lives down the road from me. Accupuncture has also been used successfully to speed up the healing of broken bones and fractures.

Anyway, Atreides, you’ve got a number of options to research and explore if you’re so inclined.

How is your leg? Hope all is well. Let us know how the rehab turns out.


[quote]mozhne wrote:
Hang tough. Broken bones are tough. Like the other guys have said, listen closely to what your Doc says. It would be good to get a Doctor that leans toward ‘Sports Medicine’. Those guys seem to have some idea that you want to do more than sit on a couch once your leg is healed. I’ve broken my leg twice and it’s critical to listen to the Docs and Physical Therapists. It won’t be easy but you will get back. Good luck.


My orthopedic surgeon is a sports doc and specializes in foot and ankle injuries.

As a powerlifter, the first thing I asked him was " how long until I can squat" He handles athletes and was sensitive to the question.

thanks to everyone who stopped by, I really appreciate it.

TT - great post thanks for the info.

Surgery update.

I had surgery Thursday last week, just 7 days ago. Hmmm. It seemed longer.

The good news is that the Doc decided to do one surgery instead of 2. He installed two metal plates, 6 screws and one bolt that went thru both bones close to the ankle.

I was discharged the following day.

The pain was pretty severe for about 4 days. It has since dropped off, and is now pretty much a function of my activity level.

Damn you did break it real well. That’s alot of hardware. Good to hear your Doc is on top of it. How did you do the damage anyway?


[quote]mozhne wrote:
Damn you did break it real well. That’s alot of hardware. Good to hear your Doc is on top of it. How did you do the damage anyway?


I was carrying a box @100 pounds down my basement stairs and lost my footing.

Not the most brilliant moment in my life, huh?

Now that sucks. Hang tough.

My advice is also to follow the doctor’s advice exactly to the T with no deviation. Oft-times they are a little cautious, because people do more. However, if they see you are doing exactly what they say, then they can trust you to do a little more and back off when they tell you.

I broke my neck a few years back and I was religious about following instructions. So when I went to the doc and said “Can I lift?” he left me go to the gym for a month doing light cardio only. I did just that. Next month, I was lifting. A few months after he cleared me for all sports including ice-hockey. I don’t think I’d have made as much progress if I’d tried to push things a little.

€ 0.02


I went to my orthopedic surgeon for a two week follow up yesterday.

The swellling was down considerbly, making the cast I got post surgery too large.

Some atrophy in the left calf was to be expected… oh well. I started taking some AM 4AD-EC. Now that I think about it, I should have started this right away to prevent muscle loss. Oh well.

The tech took two new x rays of the ankle. I have to tell you, it was weird as shit looking at a picture of my ankle with that much hardware. I got two thumbs up from the doc. Everything looked great.

At some point down the road, he will have to go back in again to remove the bolt and possibly one screw, 6-12 months from now. Having installed the hardware, he says that he takes issue with having unnecessary hardware in the leg, long term. The rest of it is mine forever. Oh yeah!

I started training upper body again this week. Wow, is my work capacity shot! Doing some pistols and some one legged calf raises on my good leg.

Thats all for now. Thanks.

My injury sounds a lot like yours. I broke my left leg in November and wasn’t full weight bearing until January. I had 2 pins, a plate & 8 screws put in. 3mos post op and the pins came out but the rest is permanent. Cardio is more difficult now but the good news is I’ve managed to get my calves back pretty quick. Good luck.