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Recovery from serious surgery

Oct 2, 2009
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I have just got back on the bike in the last couple of weeks after being operated on to remove a serious chest cavity infection, an "empyema".
I am now 6 weeks out of hospital.
I was already only a kilo or two above being very light befor going in, I lost 8 kg during the process. All my cycling mates cry "climber" when they hear this, yeah great, that would be good if I could breathe & had some muscle in my legs.
Anyhow my post here is to inquire as to whether there is anyone in the medical/training industry out there who has a weight program that I could use to perhaps regain some overall strength in general & maybe cycling directed.

Cheers Dermie
 
How long were you unable to train? It sounds like quite some time. The longer you were out and the less exercise you had while ill, the longer you should plan for your recovery. Getting back to full fitness may take months if you were immobile for months.

The second question is whether you are malnourished. From your description it sounds like you might be. I suggest going to a dietary specialist to check.

A good way to start training is to get yourself a stationary bike. They allow you to train fairly consistently, without interference of the weather or feeling the need to show off to other people. The goal should be to start out with minimal strain and for short periods. Try to find a nice RPM and ride for just 15 minutes at low resistance. It's not important to feel tired after the training. It should feel like you can keep going for at least another hour. Your muscles will only recover slowly at first and are prone to injury, so it's better to go too slow than too fast. Every week, increase the resistence a little and train for a bit longer (both by 10%). However, make sure it feels right. Don't increase the load just because you feel you have too. Once you regain some basic fitness, you can start to add some other fitness training and you can train on your racing bike again.
 
Jun 9, 2009
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Aapjes gives very good advice.

First and foremost, let your surgeon know your plans and be certain you are cleared for exercise prior to beginning your come-back. Do this as soon as possible.

It is very important to start training at a very low intensity. Fifteen minute indoor training sessions three or four times per week would be appropriate, given the proper medical clearance. Your effort level should be about 60% of your max HR.

Post how your first week goes and modifications can be made accordingly.

As for puting some weight back on, it is important that you eatplenty of protein. I recommend one gram of protein for each pound of body weight you have. Eat protein rich meals six times per day to ensure maximal digestion. Protein shakes, powders, and bars are good supplemental sources. Pleant of fats and complex carbohydrates in addition to the protein will help restore your natural body weight.

Remember that you have all the time in the world to regain your form. Doing too much too soon following a procedure such as your operation can lead to more set-backs than advances. Slow and steady gets the job done.

Best wishes.
 
Hi Dermie,

I am a qualified Sports Rehabilitator and am in the process of setting up a company aimed at providing Professional Bike Fitting as well as Injury Assessment, Treatment and Prevention specifically for cyclists. I had just written a long post for you with some advice to hopefully help you a little but the forum timed out and I lost it (good with injuries, rubbish with computers i'm afraid).

So if you'd like some more advice just drop me an email (in profile) and I'll write a few things out again.

Best of luck with getting back on the bike,

Richard
 
Oct 2, 2009
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Thanks a lot folks I appreciate your input.
The surgeons have given me the ok to start more varied exercise like a gym program as opposed to their very ardent instructions for me to walk & walk more.
I am sort of coming out of the dark tunnel now, I have spent some time on the wind trainer & have probably done 3-4 hrs a week on the road in the last couple of weeks. We are just getting in to a beautiful spring down here in the south of the equator. I have started in the gym but that is really where I need the program. What I am doing now (have only been there a couple of times) is just warming up, then Squats, 5 x 3, no weight;; Bench press, 5 x 3, no weight;; Leg curls 5 x 3, no weight;; Leg extensions 5 x 3, no weight;; Normal crunch 5 x 3, no weight;; Back Extensions 5 x 3, no weight;; Lunges 5 x 3, no weight;; Step ups 5 x 3, no weight;; stretching & warming down.
So I was just thinking of increasing to say 6 x 3 or 6 x 4 every couple of weeks for want of a better plan.

Cheers Dermie
 
Jun 9, 2009
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Good news regarding your clearance to begin exercise.

The best advice I can think of is to hire a personal trainer who specializes in rehabilitation. Someone in the doctor's office should be able to refer you to a good trainer.

After a few weeks with a good trainer, you should have a routine down that will allow you to work towards your goals in a safe and structured manner. Proper breathing during your gym routine will be important to reduce the stress to the scar tissue in your lungs, ribcage, and muscles of the thoracic wall.

A trainer or physical therapist would be very helpful. There is only so much you can gain from the advice in these posts, though it has all been spot on.
 
Hi Dermie,

Sounds like you are pretty clued up yourself and getting some good advice on here. You are already doing a lot of the stuff I wrote out last night and David has wise words regarding breathing etc.

Doing the gym stuff will allow you to isolate more easily areas you can work on without putting too much stress on the areas affected by the trauma of major surgery. Think of things such as grip strength and static shoulder stability exerises. It's a good way to improve the stuff which we normally neglect as cyclists but that can have a great effect on performance and stamina.

One big thing to look into aswell would be proprioception and neuromuscular control, basically a more focused way of looking at your balance. Not only will this be good for your bike handling skills as you return, but all the small stabilising muscles that will have undoubtedly fallen asleep during your period off the bike need "waking up" to give you good control and prevent injury through loss of things such as knee and ankle stability.

There's a wealth of info on the web about different exercise progressions for improving proprioception and control.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you can take this opportunity when your not necessarily able to do as much as you'd like on the bike to focus on some other areas. It also gives you a more varied training regime to keep the mind occupied.

As I said, plenty of stuff on the web, but if you want any specific suggestions just let me know.

All the best,

Richard.
 

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