When can you finally walk again?

It happened in a press blow during a soccer game:

A sharp, stabbing pain.

The adrenaline shot through my veins.

Getting up was out of the question.

And I knew right away.

I just broke my shin.

After I was able to think a little more clearly again, a few questions shot through my head:

  • Do I have to learn to walk again after a broken tibia?
  • How long does it take to heal after a broken tibia?
  • Do I have to go to physiotherapy or rehab now?
  • Can I still drive a car with a broken shin?
  • And above all: When can I walk properly again after a broken tibia?

This is how you break your shin

The ball was exposed in front of the sixteen-meter space.

I straddled.

At the same time, the opposing attacker started to shoot and pulled through.

Unfortunately, my foot was already on the ball.

I shouted.

The next thing I can remember was an indescribable, stabbing pain in the shin.

I tried to get up, but immediately fell back to the floor.

Two teammates carried me off the pitch and stabilized my circulation with a Coke.

Lying in a stretcher, the paramedics heaved me into the ambulance less than ten minutes later.

Then in the hospital the diagnosis: broken tibia.

In fact, you break your shin most often while exercising or in accidents (e.g. in traffic).

In the rarest of cases, however, your shin breaks due to a previous load.


As a runner, you tend to suffer from excessive strain: Among other things, the tibial edge syndrome – the so-called shin splints.

As a result, your periosteum becomes inflamed in the area of ​​your excessively stressed shin.

If you ignore the pain and keep walking, your shin can break in the worst case.

Tibial fracture: the operative treatment

In the hospital, the attending doctor used to joke:

My fibula should have been broken – that way the entire fracture would heal faster.

That same night, a so-called tibia nail was inserted into me.

This is the most common surgical method for a smooth fracture of the tibia above the ankle.

This ensures that your shin grows back together properly.

This nail is inserted below the kneecap.

Unfortunately, the intramedullary nail affects the knee joint and the patellar tendon.

The patellar tendon must first be split so that the tibia nail can also be used.

You may have long-term knee problems after a broken tibia.

In any case, several scars will adorn your injured leg:

One long on the knee and three small ones: one where the endoscope was inserted for the operation and two more for the fixation screws.

How long does the healing process take?

I spent a total of ten days in the hospital.

I had to lie quietly in bed for a whole day.

Physiotherapy in the hospital only started on the second day after the operation.

First with small strengthening and mobilization exercises.

Then I learned to walk with crutches. Especially climbing stairs with crutches.

In the first four weeks after your tibia fracture, the pain, thrombosis injections or daily walking with crutches are often very uncomfortable.

Running or walking is an important point in the entire healing process.

On the one hand, you build up your lower leg muscles by running.

On the other hand, your shin needs the pressure to grow back together as quickly as possible.

By taking regular walks, I was able to walk, jog and even play football normally again after four months.

Therapy for a broken tibia

After a broken bone, you usually have to go to physiotherapy or physiotherapy.

In the first few units, I was given a lymphatic drainage.

This special form of massage is always used when tissue fluid collects.

I was unable to fully load my leg again in the first few days after the operation. Therefore the so-called muscle or venous pump was not active.

This is because the venous pump normally supports the blood circulation and the removal of tissue fluid by repeatedly compressing the muscles.

For this reason, I was first treated with manual lymphatic drainage.

In addition, I had a training plan to build muscle during my rehab.

The focus was exclusively on the lower body.

Read more: Strength training for runners: 8 exercises for strong muscles[[

The healing process for a broken tibia

The healing process for a broken tibia is usually without complications.

Even if the intramedullary nail affects the knee joint and patellar tendon.

Unfortunately, you notice that even after a long time:

Knee pain in the scar area is particularly noticeable in winter.

In addition, I developed a muscular imbalance in the healing process – presumably due to a relieving posture of the right half of the body.

Nevertheless, I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to run again after a broken tibia.

Of course, the first steps were painful, but as soon as the pain becomes bearable, long walking is no longer a problem at all.

I am often asked if I had to learn to walk again after a broken tibia.

The clear answer: no.

Of course, you don’t put 100 percent weight on your injured leg immediately after the break. A gentle posture can therefore hardly be avoided.

Nevertheless, you don’t have to relearn this sequence of movements from scratch.

Driving after a broken tibia

After a broken tibia, your movements are severely restricted.

As long as you still walk on crutches, you shouldn’t drive a car.

This has nothing to do with the pain and the healing process, but it has to do with your ability to react.

It is particularly important to be attentive in traffic.

You always have to be ready to brake hard or even to hit the brakes.

But it is precisely such maneuvers that are problematic with a broken tibia.

Because in order to be able to go fully into the irons, you have to put a lot of pressure on the pedals.

Pressure, which, among other things, can cause severe pain at the break point.

And you already know it from running with a broken shin: If the pain is too great, you don’t put all the weight on the leg.

In the worst case, you don’t dare to hit the brakes because of the pain to be feared.

If you have a broken tibia, you should not drive again until you can move around without pain.

When I broke my shin, I drove back to the car after almost six weeks.

Final notes on the broken tibia

With a straight fracture, you don’t have to worry about complications in the healing process.

There are, however, complicated fractures in which the individual bone parts have to be operated on with metal plates, screws, an intramedullary nail and fixators.

In this case, the healing process may take a little longer.

After a broken tibia, you may have concerns or fear of going back to the activity that injured you.

But don’t worry about it!

Almost four weeks after I broke my tibia, I played soccer again.

I went into the duels with the usual physical exertion because I knew exactly: With a titanium intramedullary nail in the bone, the shin can no longer break.

In addition, your bones grow together particularly tightly after a break. This is why it is also said that a bone does not break in the same place a second time.

And if you are concerned about removing the intramedullary nail:

I had my tibia nail in the bone for almost a year until it was removed.

The healing process after the second operation was much faster than after the first operation:

After a week I was able to walk again without crutches.

After 14 days the sutures were pulled.

After three weeks I was already doing sports again.