For the last little while I’ve been pondering…do broken bones actually heal stronger?
I’ve googled the topic searching for answers and have found arguments for and against it. Some say that when a bone heals, it heals into a ‘knot’ which although strong, it will make other parts of the bone more susceptible to breaking if extreme force is applied. However, various sources and other peoples personal accounts did indicate that when a broken bone completes the healing process, it is fully functional, totally restored and stronger.
“The healed area is brand new, without a scar. Usually thicker, the new bone may even be stronger than the old.”
– Dr. Martin Yahiro, Baltimore orthopedist/consultant to the Food and Drug Administration
Here is an email I received over the weekend from Rick, a fellow kettlebeller who suffered a clavicle injury, got it surgically repaired, and from personal experience has come back even stronger than before the accident. Thanks Rick for your kind words and for sharing your story. It inspired me and boosted my hopes of making a triumphant return to sports, so I thought I’d share this.
Dear Ms. Hom:
Based on my own experience with a clavicle injury, I think you can look forward to a 100% recovery.
In 1982 I “chewed” the end of my right distal clavicle pushing a car. After two years of increasing shoulder stiffness, I finally had to undergo surgery in 1984 to have about an inch of damaged bone removed from the end of my right clavicle.
This solved the problem — for a time. However, in the early 1990s, I began experiencing pain and stiffness again. It turned out that my original injury also resulted in an injured bursa, which had not been known in 1984. As a result, I had to undergo arthroscopic surgery in 1992 to have the damaged bursa removed.
But here’s the good part. A decade later, I took up kettlebell lifting — and worked up to fifteen one-arm clean & presses with each arm, alternating between left and right arms for a total of 30 reps, with a 53-pound kettlebell. And I experienced not the slightest problem with my surgically repaired right shoulder/clavicle. In fact, I am slightly stronger in one-arm pressing with my right arm than with my left.
Based on my experience, I think you can expect to not only fully recover, but to progress on to poundages and repetitions beyond your pre-injury bests.
I wish you all the very best in your surgery, recovery, and return to kettlebell training. And, as someone once told me before I went under the knife, “Don’t take a turn for the nurse!”
San Jose, CA, USA
Over the years, Rick has seen a number of X-rays of healed broken bones that clearly show a bit of extra bone at the break site. This “overcompensation” is probably comparable to muscle growing stronger, and larger, in adapting to the work imposed on it by progressive resistance training. When a broken bone heals, it “over-heals,” as it were, and actually becomes stronger at the break site than before the injury.
This definitely sounds good to me, maybe even half glad that I broke my clavicle ’cause now I can potentially lift heavier weights and maybe even become freakishly strong like Wolverine. Last time I checked I can clean/press a 50lb kettlebell so it’ll be interesting to see what happens once I’m back in action.
Stay strong & do what you have to do,