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What is the most common injury from the Tour de France?

Cyclists in a race

The Tour de France has been one of the greatest annual cycling events since 1903. A huge amount of time, money and energy is spent on every cyclist to get them ready to compete. The Sky team reportedly had a £35million budget for the Tour de France preparations. With that amount of money being used, the last thing a team wants is an injury! What are the most common injuries? And what happens to a cyclist if they sustain one? Read below to find out!

What's the most common injury from the Tour de France?

Between 2010 and 2017 153 acute traumas from the Tour de France were recorded which caused the cyclists to not finish the race.

Tour de france injury statistics

Fractures appeared to be the most common cause of injury, affecting 67 of the injured cyclists. A fractured clavicle AKA collar bone is the most common injury found from the Tour de France.

Tour de france fracture statistics

How does a collar bone/clavicle injury occur during the Tour de France?

Fractured collar bone

Collar bones AKA Clavicles are bones that transfer force from the arms into the thorax. So if we are to lift something heavy, the weight of this is transferred into the body. The bone is under a huge amount of pressure from the strong muscles pulling it forwards and backwards.

Fractures to the clavicle and occur directly or indirectly. A direct fracture is when a cyclist falls directly onto the shoulder with such force causing the clavicle to fracture. Indirectly means that the cyclist fell on an outstretched arm, causing the force to travel through the arm and up into the collar bone where the fracture takes place.

What is the treatment for clavicle fractures?

Post surgical collar bone

Because of the high levels of strain going through the clavicle from the big muscles pulling it forwards and backwards, when it does fracture the majority of the time the fracture will become displaced. This means that the two bones are no longer in line with each other (like in the Xray above). Depending upon the severity of this, pain levels, functional changes etc will depend if surgery is required to fix it.

From the Tour de France clavicle fractures, 48% went on to have surgery. These athletes returned to competition averagely 38 days after injury compared to non-operative athletes that took averagely 76 days to get back to full fitness.

Does physiotherapy help clavicle fractures?

Yes! Physiotherapy would have been a crucial role in the return to sport for both the operative and non-operative groups. The treatment would have consisted of:

  • Increased movement of the shoulder joint

  • Increasing strength gradually of the muscles surrounding the clavicle

  • Increasing the tolerance to force going through the clavicle

  • Cycling specific rehab like vibration tolerance from holding the handlebars, leaning through the arms for long periods etc


Would you like any support with your clavicle fracture? Why not get in touch!


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