I just had a bike crash and broke my right collarbone a couple days ago. It was a freak incident- I hit a bad pothole and it caused my cleat on my clipped in shoes to come loose. My foot slipped off the pedal and hit the ground. The ground dragged my foot backwards which made my bike go wildly unstable and I crashed, slamming my shoulder. The dragging is referred to as “foot suck” or “leg suck” by recumbent riders because it can cause a leg injury on a recumbent. Make sure you put “recumbent” in the search if you want to check that out- when I just googled “foot suck” I got a lot of hits for porn videos!
Lest this crash description scare anyone who’s thinking of trying out biking, I’ve had 2 crashes that caused an injury in decades, and many thousands of miles, of riding. The other one was a crash at Hellyer velodrome in San Jose a few years back, described in my book, that caused serious “road rash”, taking a few weeks to heal. That was a rare freak incident also. Except for during bike racing, bike crashes are pretty rare.
So now I’m in a sling for 4-6 weeks. No strength training allowed involving my right arm, no biking except on a trainer. I can still walk and hike (carefully, falling wouldn’t be a good idea). After the bone has knitted and I’m cleared, I’m sure they’ll be some atrophy on the right side of the upper bod and I’ll have to work a little harder to build the muscle back up and get full range of motion back.
But there’s an unexpected silver lining I’ve already noticed. I instinctively go to do things with my right hand, and even with a sling that can cause a big twinge. So I’ve quickly learned to do stuff leftie. This is a useful mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is a good mental training technique which mostly consists of paying 100% to what you are doing, such as: just walk if you are walking, noticing your breath or footfalls. Fussing with your phone while walking, which many people seem to be doing these days, is not being mindful. This exercise can turn lots of physical activities, like walking, biking, swimming, etc., into “meditation in motion” which is enjoyable and relaxing. You’ve probably heard of all this, because mindfulness is a bit “in” right now (even though it’s been around for thousands of years).
So what does all of this have to do with collarbones and silver linings? An effective technique recommended by mindfulness teachers is to take an activity that is normally automatic and do it under close conscious scrutiny. For example, in mindful walking (a commonly used Zen practice) you walk very slowly, noticing intricate details of the movement. I’m not that good at that type of exercise. But now I’m forced to be! I have to pay close attention to lots of everyday activities to avoid getting a big owwie from my collarbone. How to you get in and out of a chair using just legs and left hand with the right shoulder completely immobile? In and out of bed? How to you take a t-shirt on or off? Dry off after a shower? So I am practicing this
mindfulness technique multiple times per day now, with a good incentive not to let my attention wander.
Who knows, after 4-6 weeks of all this mindfulness practice I may be floating on a cloud of bliss all the time. I’ll keep you posted.