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  • Training After Wrist Fracture

    Good evening docs!

    A few nights ago, I suffered a non-displacement scaphoid fracture, confirmed this morning by X-Ray. My primary care doctor told me to keep it splinted for three weeks, and ween off of the splint after that. Following up with an orthopedist on Monday.

    With regards to training, is there anything you all would recommend? I understand barbell movements are likely out of question until my wrist heals, but I would appreciate any advice on useful exercises in the interim.

    For reference:
    - Age: 23
    - Height: 5’6”
    - Weight: 144 lbs

    Thank you both for all that you do. To say I’m indebted doesn’t begin to cover it.

  • #2
    Feel free to ask your Orthopedist for their advice, but if it were me, I'd probably continue squatting with either a high bar position or using a safety squat bar. Alternatives would include the leg press or a belt squat machine.
    IG / YT

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    • #3
      Thanks so much for getting back to me. I’ll explore those options and definitely speak with my orthopedist.

      Should I expect any significant atrophy in that left arm? If so, is there anything I can do to mitigate some of that (either nutritionally or through exercising, perhaps unilaterally on the strong side)?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by sooghs View Post
        Thanks so much for getting back to me. I’ll explore those options and definitely speak with my orthopedist.

        Should I expect any significant atrophy in that left arm? If so, is there anything I can do to mitigate some of that (either nutritionally or through exercising, perhaps unilaterally on the strong side)?
        You might experience some mild disuse atrophy, which, at your age, should be easily reversible once you're able to train normally again. I don't imagine you're walking around with 22 inch arms at 144 lbs anyway ... so I wouldn't do anything special about it You'll be fine.
        IG / YT

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        • #5
          Haha you’re certainly not wrong there! (~14in and I’m absolutely not screaming off any rooftops)

          Thanks again for the advice Dr. Baraki.

          And I have to say, in light of all your material on the “mental game”, not catastrophizing my pain or exaggerating my limitations has already figured positively in my attitude, perception of pain, and self-efficacy.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by sooghs View Post
            And I have to say, in light of all your material on the “mental game”, not catastrophizing my pain or exaggerating my limitations has already figured positively in my attitude, perception of pain, and self-efficacy.
            I am happy to hear this.
            IG / YT

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            • #7
              Hi sooghs, I went through the same thing a couple years ago; I had a scaphoid non-union fracture, which is a bit more extreme than what you will be going through. I am not a doctor, so you can take my experience with a grain of salt, but here are some tips:

              1) I suffered from disuse atrophy after 11 months on a cast, but only took me 3~4 months to see of my forearm thicken back up. It has been 1.5 years and my arms are identical. It seems your doctor suggest you will be on the cast for a way shorter time (three weeks), so don't worry too much about it! You are young and you will bounce right back before you know it!
              2) I personally didn't have the flexibility to press for the first three months because my wrist was inflexible, but once I could, I didn't really have much issues except...
              3) Even now, after 1.5 years, whenever I press, I feel discomfort on my wrist around the scaphoid area. This can be mitigated by wearing a wrist wraps. I suggest investing on a good pair.
              4) I also had discomfort doing chin-ups and pull-ups on a straight bar, but ring pull-ups, hammer pull-ups, and 45-degree-handle chin-up felt fine to me. I think it because my wrist was very stiff. I suggest you playing around with different grips. But after several months, I can do pull-ups and chin-ups just fine, so it was only temporary.
              5) I suggest you not do any Snatch, Clean, Push-ups, or any exercise that requires a good amount of wrist flexibility. If you go to Oly forums, you’d see that scaphoid fractures are not exactly uncommon, especially on a botched Clean, so I don’t think it’s a risk that you need to take. Max Aita quite wieghtlifting because of it, but still does powerlifting.

              You'll be fine.

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              • #8
                Thanks for sharing your experience Elton. I'm both reassured and now also cognizant of what might be normal discomfort once I'm out of the cast. While the timeframe in the cast has now been extended to 5 weeks, I've been manipulating some tools in the gym to be able to train both my upper and lower body.

                For lower body, the only real adjustment has been using a wrist strap to grip the bar with my casted hand in the high bar position. As far as my upper body is concerned, I've been attaching an ankle strap to my forearm to do "isolation" exercises I otherwise wouldn't do (e.g. cable flyes, cable pulldowns, rows etc.)

                In either of your experiences, do these endeavors offer any substantial benefit in the way of maintaining strength/tissue? Or am I wasting my energy and potentially interfering with the healing process? (I've been sure to never flex/extend my wrist, to be clear).

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                • #9
                  I didn't really train when I had my cast on. I kind of lost motivation (due to life reasons, not gym related).

                  High Bar Squat was fine. I didn't use any wrist straps. I used my forearms to anchor the barbell to my shoulders.

                  For upper body, I used some machines that didn't require grip (not many), but I don't think it was productive. It’s more of a time sink.

                  When your cast is removed, take everything very lightly and work your way up and see what your wrist can tolerate. A wrist NLP.

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