Trail running and mountain biking or both activities which have a certain risk for bleeding, that is to say there is a risk of falling. Being a person who is not naturally graceful I do tend to trip and fall more often than I would like while trail running on technical terrain. I do a little bit better as far as mountain biking is concerned, mostly because I have so many years of experience. Mountain biking falls are of greater risk than running falls because, obviously, they can be higher velocity and are more likely to involve a head injury. Head injuries are what you’re really trying to avoid, basically.
My cardiologists thought it would be a good idea if I discontinued mountain biking, and suggested that road biking would be all right. My opinion is that road biking has a much greater risk of a bleed because of the greater likelihood of crashing on pavement and/or being run over by a vehicle. All my best crashes have been on pavement.
But I understand why my cardiologist would feel this way. Every time I ever open up a mountain biking magazine, or see any depiction of a mountain biker in any type of media, the person is flying through the air catching what we call “hospital air.”
I don’t ride like that.
I have twenty-five years experience on the trails and am fairly cautious, especially since I started with anti-coagulation. Most of my crashes are low-impact and inconsequential. At this point in time there are a lot of trails I used to ride that I no longer ride because, frankly, they’re too dangerous. No photographer wants to take pictures of me riding my bike, simply because it isn’t very interesting, hence the “hospital air” photos in the mountain bike magazines.
My gestures of appeasement to the gods of subdural hematomas include a new (brightly colored) helmet and a more cautious approach to going through rocky areas along trail. I walk my bike through things I never used to walk through. That’s just the way it is now.
Also I have started to wear glasses while trail running – glasses for distance without the bifocal feature. I have decreased episodes of tripping and falling by over 90% because of this. I hadn’t even realized I needed glasses for trail running until I started using them.
When my cardiologist first told me I should discontinue mountain biking I went online and found a lot of forums about mountain bikers who are on Coumadin. It turns out quite a few mountain bikers take Coumadin, but not because of atrial fibrillation – primarily for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis. Evidently deep vein thrombosis is common in athletes as well. Anyway, there are quite a few mountain bikers out there who do get hospital air and are still in anticoagulants. That’s their choice.
This is not my video, but is an unedited eleven minute helmet cam video of a local trail – not too crazy
This is not what I do!
I’m really not sure what sports are safe and what sports are unsafe on anti-coagulation. I would imagine that sports that involve being flung through the air down to the ground and then being stomped on by a 2000 pound animal – rodeo, for example – should be avoided. And obviously sports that involved impact such as football, hockey, or boxing, karate and other fighting sports would be things to avoid. I haven’t actually been in a fight since 1981, but it still makes me sad to think that I am now pretty much unable to get in a fight. Jousting is definitely a no no. Maybe soccer, rugby, or even baseball are sports that should be avoided. Running, swimming, kayaking, backpacking are all probably safe. Rock climbing – maybe not so safe. Motorcycle jumping definitely unsafe. I’m not sure about skiing. I am definitely not going to sign up for any of these new obstacle races that are becoming so popular. I just don’t think it’s safe for me.