Get Back On Your Feet Faster With My 6 Step Broken Leg Healing Guide

I learned everything about life on crutches the hard way - so you don't have to!

Tips & Ideas For Healing A Fracture Faster

For most people a bone fracture usually heals in around 6-8 weeks for a small fracture in a smaller bone, to 12-14 weeks for a major break or injury that required surgery.

But -- there are other factors that affect the healing time. Some you have no control over, like your age (the younger you are, the faster you will heal) but there ARE many other things that you do have control over.

My break was a completely smashed tibia plateau that required surgery (five screws and a metal rod) and it wasn't entirely certain that it was going to heal well at all. Luckily, my surgeon did a stellar job -- and after that I did hours and hours of research of what I could do personally to speed up its healing.

The best thing you can actually do is BEFORE you get injured. I know, we all wish we had a time machine back to the seconds before the accident... but if you got injured during skiing, hiking or some type of sports, you're ahead of the game.

I learned from my physio that if you're going to give yourself a major injury, the best thing you can do is actually be in great shape beforehand. The more out of shape you are, the longer time to recovery and the more weird and painful side effects.

As I was cycling in the mountains, walking dozens of kilometres each week, and in good skiing shape right before I smashed my leg, I fortunately had this one down.

But even if you weren't in great shape before, there are still some other things you can do to help your bone fracture knit back together and get you walking again faster.

The Top Three Things To Heal Faster

Starting with the big three: no smoking, no alcohol and avoiding salt (I know, all the fun stuff).

No Smoking

Smoking is THE major cause of bone non-union and slow healing. Smoking cigarettes, marijuana or anything else restricts blood circulation, increases the risk of infection, slows down wound healing, as well as affecting bone re-mineralisation and how quickly and well the bone joins back together.

I wasn't a frequent smoker but I quit everything until I was allowed to get rid of my crutches. Even if you don't do anything else to speed up healing - quitting smoking will have an outsize effect compared to anything else.

No Alcohol

Obviously, drinking while on crutches is not a great idea when you're already unsteady on your feet. Despite the bottle of local gin I was gifted by a friend in the first week, I didn't drink until three months into my recovery (and when I was going to be sitting down for a few hours).

Drinking alcohol to excess also slows down healing in general.

Avoid Salt

Too much salt in the diet affects the levels of calcium in your body. You don't have to cut it out completely, but too much will leach it from your bones and you kind of need it while healing a fracture!

Supplements and Nutrition for Faster Healing

If you've got the first three nailed, there are other changes you can make to your diet to support healing.

I'm not a nutritionist, but again I did a ton of research for easy supplements to support my healing -- especially as it was difficult to have a perfect diet while I couldn't do my own shopping or cooking. This is a general guide that doesn't take into account your particular circumstances, so check with your doctor if you're not sure if it's right for you.

Calcium. This is a huge one obviously as our bones are made largely from calcium! I can't drink milk with lactose but in my country drinking yoghurt is widely available and for the first couple of months I drank half a litre a day, easily.

Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is needed for bone health and usually gained from sun exposure or some types of fish. if you're stuck inside recovering from an injury you definitely aren't getting it from sunlight.

Magnesium supplements. There's some evidence that taking magnesium as a supplement can increase bone density and help healing fractures.

Potassium supplements. Potassium is another mineral that helps with bone formation. I chose to just eat a lot of bananas while I was stuck in bed.

Zinc supplements. Zinc helps the body absorb calcium so is really helpful for bone healing as well.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is good for healing in general and especially for bone healing. Most fresh fruits and vegetables have it but you can also easily supplement with it.

Protein. Enough protein helps heal wounds, and re-build bone fractures. I usually eat mostly vegetarian but started eating at least one serve of meat or fish every day after my break.

Probiotics. Anti-biotics after surgery will prevent infection of your wounds, but as a side effect kill off your gut bacteria which can lead to stomach and digestion issues. Probiotics will help replace the good bacteria in your gut.

You can get probiotics as a supplement, or from fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or kimchi. I took probiotic capsules and also drank half a litre of more of kefir every day. I was on high doses of antibiotics after my surgery and I had no side effects from them at all.

More Controversial Ways To Heal Faster

No Caffeine

High doses of caffeine inhibit bone formation in the critical early stages when the breaks are joining, most likely because the caffeine makes you lose calcium.

And seriously, if you're supposed to be resting in bed and healing - caffeine isn't going to help you with that. I can't think of anything worse than lying in bed on forced bed-rest trying to let my leg heal while also feeling a caffeine buzz.

I know that quitting caffeine isn't that easy (I've done it myself a few times) but you won't feel most of the side effects in your early days after surgery and while you're on painkillers anyway. The research suggests you can introduce your daily espresso again after the first two months.

No Ibuprofen

I found different studies saying that ibuprofen doesn't inhibit fracture healing, and some that it does. As I was aiming for the fastest healing of my leg possible, I decided to err on the side of caution and not take it for pain relief.

After my surgery I was given several boxes of ibuprofen but chose not to take them and instead rely on paracetamol (acetaminophen) and the other painkillers I was given.

Mental and Emotional Support While Healing

Bone Healing Frequencies

I listened to rapid healing frequency and bone healing frequency videos on Youtube for half an hour to an hour a day.

These are my favourites...

Healing Affirmations

I also listened to health affirmation videos on Youtube before I went to sleep (or if I couldn't sleep).

Talking To Your Leg

I had a morning chat with my injured knee every day and told it how well it was healing, how well it was doing, how the blood was everywhere it needed to be, how the bones, cartilage, muscles, meniscus and everything inside were exactly where they needed to be and were healing perfectly, and how easy and comfortably we would be walking again soon.

I hope this helps you heal faster and feel better sooner! If you'd like to find out everything that I learned while I was on crutches to get back on my feet faster, take a look at the 6 Steps to Faster Tibia Healing Guide.

Further Reading

Want to go deeper? Here are some of the studies I found on fracture healing.

Healing and Smoking

Healing and Alcohol

Supplements for Healing

Caffeine and Ibuprofen for Healing

Who Am I?

Hi, I'm Kate Hill. I had a skiing accident and smashed by tibial plateau in a dozen pieces, leading to major surgery and then months on crutches.

I spent that time researching EVERYTHING about my injury and recovery, and was back on my feet walking again in almost record time.

I've put it all together in a guide called The 6 Steps to Faster Tibia Healing - so you don't have to go through what I went through.

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