Recumbent or Upright Exercise Bike for Knee Rehab

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Among the many joints in the body, the knees are the most injury-prone. The injuries usually involve the major ligaments in the knee which include the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), the MCL (the medial cruciate ligament) and the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament).

These specific ligaments are affected depending on the nature of the injury. When you change directions abruptly, you will damage your ACL. It also happens if you had a bad landing from a jump. When the outside of the knees is hit by a blow, the injured part is usually the MCL. When a blow hits the knee’s front, the PCL gets affected.

1Rehabilitation

Doctors agree that one of the most effective ways to rehabilitate injured knees is the use of bicycles. The biking exercise makes extensive use of the legs.

In time, the knees will regain their strength and mobility. Later, they will have restored their flexibility and stability as well.

2Choice of exercise bikes

There are two bike types used in rehabilitating the knees after an injury. They are the recumbent bikes and the upright bikes.

Both of these bikes have adjustable seats that can move back or forward. Both are equipped with tension that can be adjusted as well, with timers, and provisions for arm workout.

The question, however, remains: Which of the two bicycle types are best for knee rehabilitation?

3Recumbent or upright bikes

The recumbent exercise and fitness bike is an ergonomically designed bike to achieve the optimum results during training. It has a saddle that is designed specifically for the human anatomy to comfortably fit during the recuperative workout.

The design of upright bikes is more like traditional road bikes. The rider sits on top of the bike frame with the seat located above the pedals. The center of gravity of the upright bike is higher, although it allows the knees to bend and extend better. The design also lets the quads and the hamstrings work in the most optimal manner.

4Position in a recumbent bike

The patient in a recumbent bike sits in a semi-reclined position. This helps in redistributing body weight while providing a backrest when doing the push action in the pedals. In a study, riding the recumbent bike lessens the stress on the knees’ ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).

In the same study, it was discovered that the movements while riding a recumbent bike and an upright is virtually the same. The seat moves back and forth to put proper placement of the knee joints.

Position in an upright bike

An upright bike ride, however, is not prescribed for knee rehab patients who have not achieved 100 degrees of knee flexion to complete one whole rotation. The height of the bike’s saddle is important in the knee’s bending action.

A saddle place too high will strain the ACL. If the saddle is placed too low, the patello-femoral joint gets the strain. The recommendation is to have the saddle high at first and to lower it when pedaling becomes easier for the patient.

Finally, doctors usually prescribe the recumbent bike first because it is easier to ride than an upright. However, knee rehab patients should be the one to select the bike they want to ride, based on their doctor’s advice.

Physicians often prescribe the recumbent bike first to get you used to exercising after a knee injury due to it being easier to use than the upright bike. Riders on an upright bike can be tempted to stand up when riding, placing too much strain on the knee. Individuals should choose the type of bike that they want to ride based on their physician’s recommendations, their range of motion at the knee joint, their specific injury, their ability to control intensity and which bike feels more comfortable.

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