sprains, unicycles and healing time

Last week I did my tradtional once a year “put myself out of comission with a stupid unicycle accident”.

Yet again I’ve managed to sprain an ankle rather badly (this is my worst sprain yet by far).

What ideas do people have on how long after an injury you should wait before getting back on a unicycle? Does it help or hinder the healing process to start riding again before it feels completely normal?

Currently one week after the accident my foot is still swollen and blotchy purple but I can finally put some weight on it. I’m supposed to be racing in a weeks time but I’m not holding out much hope. Previous sprains have taken around 6 weeks to heal.

Does anyone know whether physiotherapy would help get my back on my wheel quicker?


I sprained my ankle about 7 weeks ago while toboggoning (I have no idea how to spell it) in France. It’s still a tiny bit swollen and feels a little bit strange to sprint with but jogging’s completely fine. The only reason it took so long to heals was that I was on a holiday so I didn’t get a chance to rest it. I went skiing and snowboarding on it 4 days later which I think aggrivated it a bit. I’ve been really frustrated with it because it’s just so annoying to have a little injury that’s almost heled but not quite. Only now can I start to test out the new custom muni on drops and things like that.

If it’s a bad sprain and you want to ride next week, I’d say give it a rest. I got a brace for my ankle to go skiing with that’s made of a soft layer and two hard plastic plates that go down the left and right of the ankle. This really helped a lot for general walking and alos a bit for skiing. This might help if you can get your hands on one.

Surely there’s a doctor who posts here on unicyclist.com. Lot of luck with your recovery, and I hope you get to ride next week.


I had a really bad sprain from a fall off of a 6 foot giraffe. It took about 4 months to heal all the way. I could ride after (I was actually riding in 3 days when I still couldnt walk but just to see if I could) but in about 2 weeks without problems.

It took about 4 months for all the swelling to go down and for me to be able to put just as much weight on it as before and get just as much power jumping out of it as before.

It wasnt very fun.


I sprained my wrist last winter with a uni fall onto frozen ground while wearing wrist guards. It took about 8 months before I could do any real hopping with it. It still has moments and positions of weakness. When adjusting the brake on the 700c uni I just built, I had to ask a co-worker to manipulate the right-side brake arm because my wrist couldn’t take it at that particular angle.

After the sprain, I wore two sets of wrist guards and did little or no hopping.

I’m not a doctor, but from what I’ve read the more motion you can get away with without re-injury the better, faster, and more completely you heal. You might consider only riding on flat paved roads for a while at low speeds.

When I broke my left calcaneous last September I also badly bruised my right foot and sprained the muscle or tendon that runs along the outside of the upper shin. The PT helped a lot in resolving the injuries to my right leg.

Elevation to let the swelling drain and Advil (Ibuprofin) were also very helpful.

My left leg was non-weight bearing for six weeks and I started riding as soon as I was released at ten weeks. I let pain and other bio-feedback be my guide, riding wasn’t so bad it was the mounts and dismounts I had to really be really careful with.

Good luck, don’t over do it.

If it’s just a plain vanilla sprain - I’m assuming you’ve had it checked out to be sure there’s nothing worse going on - it’s good to use it as soon as you can (carefully) so that you keep your range of motion and the muscles don’t atrophy. UPDs might not be a great thing, though, as the ankle will be very weak at first. Maybe a b!ke, but be very careful of clipless pedals (don’t ask me how I know).

It’s worth checking though - last time I sprained my ankle the ligament tore a piece of bone off my foot. Actually this was good luck; the bone healed faster, and better, than the ligament would have had it torn instead.

The bottom line is that you should go to a physiotherapist as soon as possible - they’ll be able to tell you what your ankle needs, and they’ll have lots of excruciatingly painful exercises to make it heal faster.

Good luck!


Some might argue that the primary factor was a mater of locality; who, after all, can spell toboggoning in french? As I’m sure you know, perfroming actions that you can not spell is fraught with peril and doomed to failure. This is why I… uh…



I had broken my collar bone in December this year, I was playing basketball after three weeks, and unicycling at about, hmmm three weeks. But the clavical bone is small and glues itself back together without any adjustments. It was hard to do the usual activities, getting dressed, eating, and so forth.

What Peter didn’t mention was that he spend a fair amount of $$$ to fly to Auckland-Wellington next week for the Karapoti Classic mountainbike/uni race :(. I guess that just adds to the pressure of wanting to get back on the uni.

I’m no orthopod, but the doctor in me would say don’t do anything stupid, the unicyclist in me would say get back out there as soon as you can :wink:

Seeya next week Peter, hopes your ankles’ better by then.



If ice is good for a sprain, liquid nitrogen must be better. If you come back to Seattle I will give you all the liquid nitrogen you can use. I have thousands of gallons of it right outside. Here’s a big jug of it that you could clearly dunk your entire foot into.


That’s terrible. I didn’t realise it’s the Karapoti Classic next week and I know you were really looking forward to it. Once again, I hope you get to race.


Peter, get physio. It’s only $10 (or less) a pop with ACC and yr ankle will thank you for it!

i sprained my ankle 3 weeks ago at the most recent uk unimeet and the next week i went to my club with my ankle strapped up. the temptation was too great. i couldn’t resist. i had to ride it:( my ankle swelled up like a pig again. the moral of the story is to wait ages and ages before riding again:( .

Re: sprains, unicycles and healing time

peter.bier <peter.bier.j678b@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:
> Currently one week after the accident my foot is still swollen and
> blotchy purple but I can finally put some weight on it. I’m supposed to
> be racing in a weeks time but I’m not holding out much hope. Previous
> sprains have taken around 6 weeks to heal.

I laid off the unicycling for two weeks when I sprained my ankle back at
the start of september with the muni weekend in mid september
looming. Rode again for the first time at the BMW with my ankle well
strapped with tubigrip and a sports surport, didnt do anything too extreme
and it was OK, if a tad painfull on some landings.
As a rule of thumb, I’d wait till you can walk without a major limp, and
try walking on rough ground before you start riding off road, it quite
different to walking on the pavement.


Union of UK Unicyclists
By and for UK riders

When I was re-learning to walk last Spring after breaking my ankle and having it plated back together, the doctor told me not to walk on rough ground for ages…a problem for a field biologist. I ended up slowly and carefully tromping through muddy fields for work, but I avoided the unicycle because of a) the twisting of your legs while riding (which hurt), and b) the danger of a UPD on a crappy ankle. The muscles in my ankle had to relearn how to react when my ankle started to accidentally twist over, as well as restrengthen. Kinesologist friends of mine suggested that pushing an injured joint may be a good thing during later recovery (depending on the injury), but that it should be elevated, iced, contrast bathed and all that jazz while it is initially swollen and unhealed. I agree with Sarah Miller’s suggestion. But don’t push it…it is better to have a working ankle long term. If you have the cash and the time, go for the physio if they have helpful suggestions and exercises (sometimes they don’t!).

And be careful when you eventually get back on the uni; if you have not walked on your leg for a while, the muscle atrophy in the bad leg can put you a bit off balance.

Good luck with your recovery, Peter! Hope it heals faster than you are expecting!

Say, Harper, could you mail me some liquid nitrogen? Just put it in a 2-liter bottle and wrap it with a towel; as long as it’s under 16 oz, you should just be able to drop it in a mailbox…