This still sucks but it could have been worse

Our tech ed James adapts to life in a cast

So, it’s now been 10 days since I broke the fourth metacarpal in my right (dominant) hand and while I can’t say that it’s been a pleasant experience, all things considered it could have been much worse. 


According to Dr Robert Koch at Boulder Community Hospital, my fracture is stable and non-displaced, it’s well supported by the surrounding network of ligaments and muscles – not to mention the adjacent bones – and I should hopefully be out of this bloody cast in five weeks.

But what a cast it is. Things have apparently progressed quite a bit since the days of heavy plaster shells covered in magic marker and fingerpaint as I’m now donning a fancy Boxer’s Fracture Brace from Exos Medical

Built from heat moldable materials and sporting the same Boa lace and reel technology as some high-end cycling shoes, it’s surprisingly comfortable, much lower profile than traditional casts, adjustable (both in terms of tightness and shape), waterproof and semi-breathable. 

The best part, though, is that I can remove the thing for a few minutes a day for showers (and just to wiggle my fingers around a bit, too) and have been cleared to ride on a trainer or even on the road, pain and comfort permitting – win!

Moreover, Dr Koch fitted the heat moldable cast around my broken paw in less than 10 minutes (with no mess to clean up, I might add) and I’ve regained the use of my thumb, index finger and middle finger – a huge improvement over what was previously little more than a useless club. Under the direction of the local Exos sales rep, I’ve even already remolded one pressure point using a hair dryer.

Still, I obviously wasn’t able to participate in the UCI-sanctioned ‘cross races that came through town this past weekend so I instead played the spectator role (and downed two paper cups of freshly fried frites in the process).

While there, I spoke to a surprising number of other cyclists who’d suffered bone breakages in the same or similar areas. A couple also used Exos braces (the company make a number of different models for upper and lower arm injuries) yet most didn’t even know they existed – but wished they had.

I’m going to give myself another week or two before I try to grip a handlebar with my three available fingers. I’ve already taken delivery of some indoor trainers to review and a pair of one-hand-friendly Sentinel trail runners from The North Face so I don’t get too fat going into the holidays.


So yep, could’ve been much worse – like my buddy who broke his tibia in Sunday’s race – so relatively speaking I’ll consider myself lucky. Lemons and lemonade, and all that.