Rib Recovery

Hey all,

Looking for some advice on how to recover from rib damage. I forgot to wear my rib protector for a single session at a local sprint track at the beginning of April and damaged both sides of my rib cage. I didn’t end up going to the doctors due to being peek COVID (and understanding that there’s not much that can be done).

Since then I haven’t been able to lie on either side when sleeping due to pain. 10 weeks later it was feeling slightly better and I signed up for a road race at Mid Ohio. The track is smooth enough that I didn’t feel any worse but still couldn’t lie on my side when sleeping.

This past weekend I went to Grattan. By the end of the weekend I couldn’t drive the kart anymore due to the pain (especially on the left side of my rib cage due to the bumpy right hand turns). I felt every bump on the road during the 13 hour drive home and sneezing is excruciatingly painful.

OK done with the back story :slight_smile: My real question is what is the quickest way to recover? My plan right now is to stop running and cycling until I am healed but I would love to know if there are other things I should be doing.

Thank you!

You will have to seek professional advice on this before you cause yourself a chronic condition.

I don’t know if I’ve heard of any treatments that speed recovery other than hyperbaric chambers, though I am dubious about their effectiveness. I suspect in the stories of competitors recovering miraculously from broken bones etc… it’s other illicit substances that contribute more to recovery than hyperbaric chambers.

Obviously improving diet is a good thing to do. Other than that, again, only a professional doctor can assess the full extent of your problems. I tried to sit on an injury rather than go doctors and now it’s chronic which will need surgery probably. Obviously Covid stopped that too.

If you really MUST go karting (which personally i would not recommend) you will probably need to look at a bespoke rib protector and seat solution. Generic products can cause issues for some people.

To Alan’s point, after doing the same and mostly recovering, I still hurt. I ended up buying a deepseat, which is designed to basically eliminate pressure on the ribs by distributing it more broadly. The other brand of rib seats is Ribtect.

Here’s a ribtect. See how it’s higher on sides and wraps around torso?


There’s literally nothing you can do to speed up recovery.
Background: I tore my intercostal muscles on my left side ribs pretty badly, raced on them for a year, and then cracked my right side ribs later in the year. Every weekend was torture, aggravating the same injury over and over. The sports doctor told me that all you can do is rest and take it easy and let it heal naturally. He actually told me the only thing I could do to prevent pain was to stop racing. Because the muscles start to turn to scar tissue, making it easier and easier to injure them every time, if you don’t give them proper time to heal.

After that initial season of injury, I had the usual 6 month off-season, and within 2 laps of my first practice session of the next year, I was in pain again. So even with 6 months rest, the damage was done, the scarring had formed, and there was no coming back.

The best way to ensure you don’t really damage anything is to literally stop racing for a month or two and let it heal. When you come back, make sure you have a good rib vest, maybe use some padding in your seat, or use a rib-saving seat like a DeepSeat or Ribtect.

Take a look at different rib vests as well. I tested about 4-6 of them when I was trying to race through my injury. The Bengio Bumper was the only one that cured the pain immediately, and it’s the only way I’m still racing. Without the rib vest, I can’t do more than a session or two.

I myself just did the same damage about 1 1/2 weeks ago. Been taking anti-inflammatory meds everyday and still only slightly better. I have since purchased the Bengio rib protector which was recommended by many here as well as get low profile seat bolts and add seat padding.

My race is in 1 1/2 weeks and being my first season I am dying to race. Everything I have read is that it can take anywhere from 3-10 weeks of rest and that if not rested properly you will do more damage and be fighting the injury for a longtime. With that said, I am hoping I make the right decision to race or not come the following weekend.

I’ll make the decision for you. Don’t race.


I am going to concur with Alan. It takes what it takes. You dont want to end up as a broken old man.

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Good advice. There is another race on august 15th which is a night race, going to try and shoot for that. Its really hard being my first season and only 2 races in but I am in it for the long haul so need to be smart.

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Thanks guys. Yeah no plans on racing until recovered. Just wanted to know what other’s experience was so I appreciate the replies.

I’m going to checkout the deepseat and the ribtech seat. It looks like they are $100 different in price. Any one ever had any experience with both? I’m guessing it’s all personal preference but curious if someone has compared.

I want to make sure the kart and driver are in tip top condition before venturing out again.

It does sound like I should be properly resting though as opposed to doing other activities. My own fault for not doing that the first time!

I was having really bad inflammation problems with my right side ribs towards the end of last season. Tried driving earlier this year (after about 5 months of no driving) and felt immediate pain. Then I put a 1” thick 6x8” piece of gel style memory foam inside of my rib protector and I’ve been driving ever since with no issue. Granted, that might not help if you really have something torn or broken. But it helped me a lot.

Before I got my Bengio, I got a couple of these:

And stuck them in my vest or in my seat, and they actually helped a lot as well. A bit expensive, but felt better than cheaper foam.

Now I run two of these medical gel pads on the back of my seat at all times to reduce pressure points on the back of my ribs, where most of my injury was.

I’ve only tried the deepseat. It was very effective. Can’t speak to ribtect but I did buy their low profile mounting hardware.

If you are thinking of going that way, call them for sizing.

My dad is the DeepSeat guy, so I always recommend that. I tried both seats and I liked the DeepSeat better because the Ribtect felt too stiff, like it was affecting the chassis.

It makes a massive difference. Little pro tip, if you want cheap seat padding, order a mattress pad off amazon. You can get a 1” mattress topper on there for around $30 and have a ton of extra material. And there’s a variety of densities to choose from as well.


Rib injury suck. Don’t be fooled, you can feel fine but as soon as you bang your ribs in a corner it all comes back. Recovery takes time. You may want to consult a professional, I’m not sure putting your other athletic activities on hold is wise.

I personally use a Deepseat with a rib vest (Armadillo) and have almost zero problems with my ribs. The only problem with the Deepseat is it is on the stiff side, so if you run a soft seat it will change your handling some.

The absolute worst thing you can do is get in a kart. Rib injury takes weeks and weeks to heal, all you can do to help it heal properly is breath deep periodically and hold it, just to stretch the repairing muscles a bit.

Also take note once you’ve damaged the intercostal muscles they rarely repair properly - they will repair as scar tissue and will damage much (MUCH) more easily next time. Get the best rib protector you can and make sure your seat is a proper fit, bearing in mind too tight a seat on your upper torso is equally bad if not worse than a sloppy seat, because it presses and pre loads your ribs. It should be snug without pushing your ribs in.

I just recently re-injured my ribs from trying another persons kart and the seat was slightly too small for me. This isn’t the first time I have had this injury but it is the first time that I have used tension to help my recovery and I was amazed at the difference in the speed of my recovery. I injured them almost 2 weeks ago and after only a couple days of wearing and sleeping with this contoured back support on the rib pain is pretty much gone. I can push on the affected area with my knuckle fairly hard now and this area I could barely touch before. The box says “Contoured Back Support”. made by Equate. It was only $18 CAN at WalMart.

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Thanks John! I would be interested to learn more. I googled “Contoured Back Support” by equate but the only equate product was a back brace.

No intention of getting in a kart until it’s all fixed. I do need to find someway to sleep though. I can only lie on my back and in the morning the pain is worse than just sitting during the day. If there was something that would support the ribs I think it might help.

That one should work well enough. Having the constant compression seemed to be the biggest benefit. I kind of stumbled onto this. The first night after my injury, my wife suggested a tensor bandage which was narrow and only wrapped around me twice. I slept with that on and did feel better the next day so I went out and hunted down the back support that I mentioned and have found good relief. I hope it works for you too.

Interesting. What do you consider too small?

I’m a pretty big (and oldish) guy and my seat with the kart suit (no rib protect) is pretty tight. Tight enough that the large armadillo rib protector I bought was useless since I could not get in the seat with it and the suit on. From measurements, most manufacturers would show the seat as an XL model.

I had no problems or pain at all during the season with even a couple 30 MPH or so side hits in the rain. The seat has fairly high sides though, so maybe that helps. Moving up with more power (and age) though, I’ve been considering getting a larger seat or possibly trying a different brand rib protector.