Q&A: Brain haemorrhage recovery

Unfortunately, while competing in the WTTA 100 a week ago, I suffered a brain haemorrhage. The great news is I can expect a full recovery with no effects and have suffered a minor vessel bleed not a major one – so no stroke effects and statistically no more chance of any further occurrence than anyone else. However, I have been advised to stay off work for at least three months.

However, I’m also keen to minimise fitness loss as I’ve worked for the last few years to reach this point and my power-to-weight ratio has never been better.

Doctors and physios are not very specific about exercise regimes once I’m discharged. No HR limits have been given. Obviously, real training is some way off, but what can I do to minimise losses? How do I avoid putting on unnecessary weight? Are there any low impact static exercises that would help?
Ian Bainbridge

I applaud your dedication to cycling as you’ve begun your enquiries into rehabilitation while still in hospital! The brain injury association, Headway, provides a number of resources on its website: www.headway.org.uk.

Initially, you should of course work very closely with your doctors on how best to tackle your recovery in order to avoid setbacks. It sounds like you have built a good ‘base’ and are aerobically fit, so the good news is you can get away with a couple of weeks off training without losing too much of this fitness at all. You will need to find out from your doctor what heart rate you can regularly go up to safely, as this will dictate the level of exercise intensity you will be able to train at.

If you face a period of recuperation which involves a complete break from training on the bike, you would be likely to benefit from some light exercise and stretching designed to address the muscle groups that are often neglected by cyclists.

A visit to a sports physiotherapist to get an assessment and advice can work wonders with riders who have developed tight muscles and imbalances through training solely on the bike. The right exercises can improve both strength and flexibility, helping you to hold an aero position when you get back to riding.

With regards to diet, I recommend what’s commonly known as the ‘Performance Diet’ comprising approx 60 per cent carbohydrates, 20 per cent protein and 20 per cent fats, 
reducing overall calories accordingly when you’re not burning them off through exercise. Always hydrate adequately and try to avoid alcohol, especially during your recovery period.

Rob Mortlock is a BC level three coach

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This article was first published in the July 4 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!