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My collar bones connected to the.... medical mystery(15 posts)

My collar bones connected to the.... medical mysteryfunknuggets
Jul 22, 2002 10:46 AM
Can I ask why it is that cyclists inevitably break their collar bones in wrecks? Two cyclists around here were on a city limit sprint a week or so back and ran into each other and BOTH broke their collar bones. You hear about it all the time. Are cyclists genetically predisposed to weak collar bones? I have had some pretty spectacular accidents and feel lucky to not have suffered this outcome. Do you think it is because many cyclists are not, how should I say this... muscular around the shoulders and pecs?

I have known perhaps 4 or 5 guys that have broken their collarbones. I have had a couple of doozies and have at worst only dinged up my rotator cuffs in the shoulder area and am wondering if I should feel left out. (kidding)
common type of crash involvedcabinfever
Jul 22, 2002 10:52 AM
I think it is because of the way you typically crash off of a bike. If you hit something, you may go head first, and land on your shoulder area. Especially considering you will hit with the front wheel first, are probably low to your bars, and are clipped in. Cyclists with serious miles on them do develop a lesser bone density, or so I've heard. I read an article years ago that said how Tour riders have a lesser bone density because the body senses that there is no impact on the bones, and uses nourishment that might otherwise be used for bone density as energy for biking. I may have lost something in translation there as it was years ago. But, I don't think this has anything to do with the collar bone injury specifically.
my completely uneducated guess....SteveO
Jul 22, 2002 10:54 AM
Formost skeletal member absorbing totality of impact of 140+pounds into macadam.

Id imagine a non-cyclist who jumped headfirst off a 20mph car would also suffer a broken collerbone.
When I broke my collar bone...PsyDoc
Jul 22, 2002 11:28 AM
...my orthopedist told me that the collar bone will break with 3-5 pounds of pressure. He said you could break someone's collar bone by punching them hard on the collar bone. I think a broken collar bone tends to be the most frequent injury for cyclists, because in a crash where the cyclist is thrown down hard on the pavement on one side or the other can transmit a tremendous amount of energy for the body to absorb and something typically gives whether it is the shoulder, collar bone, pelvis, etc.

There was a study four or five years ago that looked at this very issue. The study was presented at the 64th annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The main conclusion was that the collar bone is most likely to break, because, in the most serious falls, the motion of the bike carries the rider over the handle bars. As such, the rider typically lands with their arms out in front of them to break their fall. The energy generated from hitting the pavement is trasmitted from the hand to the shoulder to the collar bone (then, S-N-A-P). The incidence of broken collar bones was different for recreational riders and racers...as one might imagine; about 25% in recreation cyclists and 60% in racers.
is there a way to land which reduces the chance of breakingweiwentg
Jul 22, 2002 3:55 PM
the collarbone?
Yes!Uncle Tim
Jul 22, 2002 7:28 PM
Some cycling advocates suggest that, when you know you are going to fall, resist the very strong urge to cast your hands forward. Instead, they say, draw your hands in, pull yourself into a ball and try to roll upon impact.

I've never had occasion to try this. My last big crash involved the bike simply go out from under me on a wet curve, and rolling upon impact was not an option. I can see where this can work. It may prevent a broken wrist or collarbone, but I'd hate for my head to take most of the impact.
I'll try that next timeweiwentg
Jul 22, 2002 11:30 PM
pity you didn't post this earlier, LFR might have had use for it :/
That's what I've always heard as well...Wayne
Jul 23, 2002 4:06 AM
I guess it depends on how you're going down but keep your hands on your bars and try to fall on your side as best as possible. A broken collarbone is preferrable to a broken wrist, esp. if it's one of the little bones in the wrist (scaphoid) which is a notoriously poor healer and can provide years of dysfunction/discomfort.
I would think that in most cases...PsyDoc
Jul 23, 2002 5:40 AM
...a crash happens so fast that there is not time to react. In my case, one second I thought "Oh $hit" and the next second I was on the ground. I have heard recommendations to try and pull yourself into a ball, but I do not know how I could have had time to do that.
Depends...Wayne
Jul 23, 2002 6:03 AM
but if you have it in your mind to hold on you're probably more likely to do so. I crashed this weekend in a crit (in the drops), and I saw the bodies and bikes going down in front of me, had time to break hard and try to veer around it, thought I'd made it when a bike came shooting out of the pile in front of me, and I kinda skidded to a stop on top of it and fell over onto it. Never took my hands off the bar.
Collarbone very weak in compressionbrider
Jul 22, 2002 11:29 AM
The structure of the collarbone is to stabilize the shoulder, and it's really not designed to take a side impact -- placing the bone in end-to-end compression. Also, it's fairly weak at taking a direct blow. As such, it's a fairly weak member, and the way cyclists generally crash it's got a great propensity to breaking.
Also...almost no muscle supporting the collar bone.(nm)5ive
Jul 22, 2002 11:55 AM
i seperated my shouder(is that the same thing)pukka
Jul 22, 2002 12:23 PM
hit an oil patch on a corner and ,whip off the bike flies
No...Wayne
Jul 22, 2002 12:41 PM
Your collarbone (clavicle) attaches to your scapula (shoulder blade) via the acromion process. This is the bone you feel if you put your hand on the outermost top portion of your shoulder. Probably if you land on the outside of your shoulder and the force is directed toward the center of your body (or on an outstretched arm which also articulates with the scapula), the weakest link is the collarbone so it snaps as it acts as a strut for the whole shoulder girdle. A separated shoulder means you tore the ligaments that hold the collarbone to the acromion. Probably you hit more vertical and drove the acromion inferiorly? If the ligaments didn't snap you very well could have broken your collarbone instead.
All this is not to be confused with a dislocated shoulder, which means your arm bone comes out of the shoulder socket of the scapula.
Broke bothfiltersweep
Jul 22, 2002 5:07 PM
...two different times. The worst is that you can't immobilize it in a cast, and any movement seems to aggrevate the injury... you wiggle your toes and you'd be convinced it was attached to the clavicle.