A coccyx fracture, also called a broken tailbone, occurs when the bottom tip of the spinal column breaks. The spinal vertebrae normally protect the spinal cord, which ends at a level above the coccyx, meaning that this fracture won't likely cause nerve damage — but it can still be extremely painful.
A fractured coccyx causes pain and swelling in the area and is typically managed with self-care activities, rather than surgical intervention, according to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. If you suspect you've broken your coccyx, follow your doctor's advice. They may recommend light exercise to help with the healing process.
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Whether or not you exercise after a coccyx fracture will depend on your pain level and how well the bone is healing.
Avoid Aggravating Activities
If you are recovering from a coccyx fracture, allow yourself time to rest. Exercises to avoid with tailbone injury include any that increase your pain, such as those that require prolonged sitting or bike riding, according to Cleveland Clinic. Resting and applying cold packs or ice to the fractured area for the first two days can help control pain and reduce swelling. The pain of a coccyx fracture may persist for several weeks while the injury is healing.
If you are feeling pain while trying to perform some exercises, slow down and allow the injured area to heal. By performing strenuous exercise or pushing yourself to do too much, you may slow the healing process or experience pain for a longer period of time than necessary.
Balancing Rest and Exercise
Rest is beneficial following a coccyx fracture, and your doctor may recommend that you rest to allow your body to have a chance to heal. Alternatively, sitting with a coccyx fracture can be very uncomfortable because it puts pressure on the tailbone, leading to more pain. Therefore, light exercise for brief periods — which will reduce the amount of time that you spend sitting — can help you avoid becoming stiff or sore from a generalized decrease in activity.
Beginning a mild exercise regimen after some of the swelling has diminished can also promote circulation to the site. During exercise, the heart rate increases to pump more blood to the muscles and other tissues throughout the body. The increase in circulation can promote healing to the tissues surrounding the coccyx.
Coccyx Fracture and Pain
A coccyx fracture often causes pain in the tailbone that is noticeable when you try to stand up from a sitting position. Passing hard stools after a coccyx fracture can also be painful. Increasing your activity level through exercise can help to prevent or relieve constipation. Additionally, drinking plenty of fluids, which is essential with exercise, can help to promote regular bowel movements and reduce the incidence of constipation.
Read more: Can I Exercise With a Bruised Tailbone?
Tailbone Pain Exercises
Consult with your doctor before starting any type of exercise after you have suffered a coccyx fracture. Your doctor may give you specific suggestions for when and how you can increase your activity levels again. For example, they may recommend a routine of mild cardiovascular exercise that does not place pressure on the coccyx area, such as walking and swimming.
Other types of sports, such as aerobics, dancing or running may put more stress on your joints and some areas of the body, which can be uncomfortable. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid activities such as biking, which place pressure on the tailbone by sitting on a seat; or hazardous sports, such as skating or skiing, as they may cause falls, which can result in further injuries and delayed healing.