Will Riding an Exercise Bike Strengthen My Knee?

Exercise bikes provide a low-impact workout.
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If you are recovering from a knee injury, are rehabilitating the knee after surgery or if you experience knee weakness, you naturally want to restore your knee as much as possible. Riding an exercise bike is a good way to strengthen your knee. Always consult with your medical doctor or a physical therapist before attempting any sort of knee exercises.

Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes are often used for knee rehab because they can restore and increase range of movement and knee joint stability. They can also strengthen the muscles around the knee, specifically the quadriceps and the gluteal muscles. Bikes with a foot strap on the pedal allow a more intensive hamstring workout if you use the strap to pull up when pedaling. This is important because the quads and hamstrings are the main muscle groups that support the knee. Exercise bikes provide a low-impact, non-weight bearing exercise and are considered “knee friendly,” according to the Cartilage Health website.

Resistance Work

Resistance exercises strengthen the knee. The idea is to add weight — resistance — to your workout. Your goal with resistance work is to strengthen the muscles around the knee. This is done by overloading the muscles just enough until they adapt to the resistance. If you are stiff or sore the next day, you have overused resistance and you could worsen knee pain. Start with low resistance and gradually work up to more. Also, during your workout, switch between light or no resistance to heavier resistance.

Type of Bikes

The two types of stationary exercise bikes are upright and recumbent. Both can give you a good workout for your knee; choosing one is a matter of preference. The rider sits vertically on an upright bike with the handlebars in front and the legs in a vertical position. The rider’s legs are out front on a recumbent bike, and the back balances on a backrest.

Exercises to Complement Bike Work

Besides bike work, you can do other exercises to strengthen the knee. Do leg raises by lying on your back. Keep one leg bent and the other straight. Raise the straight leg 6 inches. Hold for five seconds and raise another 6 inches and hold. Change legs. Repeat the exercise 10 times. Add ankle weights for a more advanced workout, building up to 5 pounds.

Exercise the hamstring by lying down on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest, and grasp your leg by holding the back of the thigh. Gradually straighten your leg. You should feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold five seconds, and repeat with the other leg. Repeat the stretch 10 times.

Stretch the quads by standing in front of a wall. Putting your hand on the wall for balance, grab your right foot with your right hand and gently pull your heel toward your buttocks. You should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold for five seconds, and repeat with the other leg. Repeat the stretch 10 times.

Walking is also a good knee exercise. If you have pain, avoid walking on hard surfaces; instead walk on a grass or dirt surface or on a treadmill.

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