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  1. #1
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    Elliptical and Recumbent trainer

    I have exercised for years alternating biking with hiking.
    Last few weeks, I added one hour per session on a Elliptical trainer. My Cycle Opps trainer axle broke, so I had to use a Recumbent trainer.
    Hiking on flat ground, I did no slipping or shocks, I experienced a sharp pain in my left knee. I had to limp back to the car. Looking for causation: Is it either of these two new forms of trainers? Both trainers act differently on my knees, I feel that.

    I gave the legs some rest and it feels much better but I am concerned. This never happened to me before.

    I stopped using both machines and will report what that will do.
    In the meantime, does anyone have any insight?
    I Googled it and found nothing.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    Elliptical trainers are highly valued by many people due to their low impact. It's unlikely, although not impossible, that the cause is the elliptical - unless you do something stupid (like dropping into a duck walk) like I do. Crouching on an elliptical destroys your quads in quick order.

  3. #3
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Before purchasing a recumbent bike, I did some research on their impact on knees, as I've had knee problems in the past. I found multiple references that stated recumbent cycling is easier on knees, and even a prescribed treatment for some types of knee injuries.

    However it does work different muscles and put different stresses on your knees. So it is possible that the unfamiliar strain could be the source of the problem. Although there is no particular reason, as far as I know, for your injury to have been caused by the recumbent trainer.

    I just attended a bike clinic workshop on knee problems and how to avoid them. The doctor, a well-respected sports medicine physician, stated that her primary exercise is done on a recumbent trainer.

    People in good cycling condition, but new to recumbents, frequently find that there is a conditioning period to adjust to them. It is not uncommon for someone to take a few months to build their speed and distance up on a bent. I only mention this to illustrate that since one is working some different muscles, there is always a chance of aggravating something.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  4. #4
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    Terex and Tom,
    Thank you for your comments. I understand what you are saying.
    I left out a piece of information for keeping my post brief. I now think that may be a dis-service to the many users of Recumbent and Elliptical trainers.
    I have always been very active. Some years ago, I had a bad falling accident by doing rock climbing. Nothing was broken but I was in excruciating pain. Final analysis revealed arthritis in both knees. The fall stretched the ligaments around the joints. Subsequent to that, the bones rubbed without support of those ligaments. Lots of inflammation type medication and lots of no load exercise controlled that so I was able to go XC without a problem. (I did keep my fingers crossed the whole trip)
    Now to my current problem:
    I am thinking that the new motion exercise on these two machines stretched my lineaments again and I am back to the same problem. Going to a doctor is no good. These people cannot manage their own life much less my. They look at me as some aberration and say: Man, you are 65 years old, slow down.
    Well, I am not ready for that.
    I will keep the load off for a while and see if that fixes it as it did before. I will report the results.
    Perhaps I can write an article on this some day?

  5. #5
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Hey Will, for what it's worth, 40 days ago I started on Glucosamine/ Chondroitin and I'm starting to feel it working a few days ago. I don't know if you recall I have RA and I asked the doctor about this stuff and he said it worked for some people and not others.I started a thread on it and I thought it was worth a try. I feel stronger now, and have my fingers crossed to get better.The doctor also said if you get sick from it to try Osteo Bio-Flex, easier on the stomach. Good luck.
    George

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    will,

    I am in no way plugging this doctor but he does seem to take a different approach to knee issues, in the event that you ever need surgery. What appeals to me is increasing the amount of knee cartilage in the joint, since I have had it removed from both knees.

    http://www.stoneclinic.com/index.htm

  7. #7
    Member pedal lber's Avatar
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    Will, until I got back in to cycling recently, for 5 years I had used an elliptical as my primary cardio trainer. I still use the elliptical, but alternate between it, a Lemond spin cycle, a Kurt Kinetic trainer, and riding. I have an undiagnosed problem with my left knee, and Iím a chronic duck walker. All of these activities were chosen for their low impact, and none has ever aggravated the knee. Walking at less than a brisk pace, and standing for long periods of time will cause some pain and minor swelling.

    While Iím certainly no medical expert, and I havenít had any experience with a recumbent trainer, my guess is that something other than the machines are the problem.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the good comments.
    What do you guys think of this symptom?
    While I had this problem described above, I really had trouble walking without a severe limp, BUT, I was able to slowly jog and it actually lowered the pain enough so I could walk a short distance. By slow jog I mean like a bouncing step at under 4 MPH.
    I am also no doctor. I will try my trainer at no load, this has helped in the past.

  9. #9
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    When I was going to the gym and got on the elliptical, my knee hurt, when I got on the treadmill my hip bothered me. That's why I'm riding now. I couldn't do much else, but I feel like I'm getting enough from riding. Now that my joints are feeling a little better, I'm going to start a light weight program again.
    George

  10. #10
    Member pedal lber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    Thanks for all the good comments.
    What do you guys think of this symptom?
    While I had this problem described above, I really had trouble walking without a severe limp, BUT, I was able to slowly jog and it actually lowered the pain enough so I could walk a short distance. By slow jog I mean like a bouncing step at under 4 MPH.
    I am also no doctor. I will try my trainer at no load, this has helped in the past.

    Sounds like your knees are doing something to similar to mine. Iím always better doing something a bit more vigorous than shuffling through the mall with my wife. She says its psychological , but the knee will hurt even when Iím doing something I like to do at that pace.

    After reading Georgeís post it reminded me that my wife is taking Glucosamine/
    Chondroitin. Like me, she has had some knee issues. It was recommended to her by an orthopedic surgeon. She says it definitely makes a difference. I Googled it and the Wikipedia has a couple of good articles on them you might want to look at.

  11. #11
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    A quick update.
    I fixed my Cycle Opps trainer and was able to do my normal one hour session twice without trouble.
    I did go slow at 15 to 16 MPH and 85 to 90 RPM.
    This above event has disturbed me and I want to see if I can go back to normal. I will try to do a six mile hike this week. (I like to do 12 miles but do not dare to do it yet)
    BTW, I am not taking pills. I will try to get by with physical therapy, self administrated.
    I will make another report of that in a week or so regardless if good or bad.

  12. #12
    Wheezing Geezer Bud Bent's Avatar
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    It should be pointed out that either a recumbent bicycle or stationary bike have the potential to let you put too much stress on your knees. The reason is that with an upright, gravity limits you to pressing on the pedal with all your weight, and nothing more, but since you are pushing against a seat back when you mash pedals on a recumbent, you can put more stress on your knees.

    When I first researched recumbent bicycles, I found plenty of references to knee problems with them, so I've always made sure to spin and not put excess stress on my knees, and I've had no knee problems. In almost every area, recumbent bicycles and stationary bikes are easier on your body than uprights, but knees can be an exception if you mash pedals with too much power.
    Bud
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    They told me it's ok to post mileage over in the commuting forum, so you'll probably find me there these days.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Bent
    It should be pointed out that either a recumbent bicycle or stationary bike have the potential to let you put too much stress on your knees. The reason is that with an upright, gravity limits you to pressing on the pedal with all your weight, and nothing more, but since you are pushing against a seat back when you mash pedals on a recumbent, you can put more stress on your knees.

    When I first researched recumbent bicycles, I found plenty of references to knee problems with them, so I've always made sure to spin and not put excess stress on my knees, and I've had no knee problems. In almost every area, recumbent bicycles and stationary bikes are easier on your body than uprights, but knees can be an exception if you mash pedals with too much power.
    I really appreciate your reply.
    As I said, I have never had a problem like this before and I am alarmed (an understatement).
    Your post refreshes my mind that I abused my legs on both machines because I could. The recumbent allows a force to go up to 1000 calories/hour for a short duration. I am now self-critical for doing such a stupid thing. The same goes for the Elliptical trainer, it allows high load for short durations which I did because I could do it.
    Now of course I am more humble and become really careful.
    Thanks for your post. I know it should be common sense but sometimes I get carried away.
    Will

  14. #14
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    This is for someone having problems like I had.
    I am a long distance biker. Doing that you learn to conserve energy and protect your critical joints such as knees. I can and have biked 120 miles/day for 25 days at moderate speeds of 17 MPH riding time.

    A trainer is different in that one does it for a more limited time like one hour or two.
    An upright bike trainer simulates road biking quite closely. The experiences of long distance road biking carries over. My HR is typically 100 to 125 while doing that. Experience prevents one from over stressing joints.

    Recumbent and Elliptical trainers are different. The HR is lower for a given calorie/hour count.
    For the one hour duration of a typical training session, one can drive the strain much higher without a much higher HR. This is what I did. I focused on my HR without a way to measure what I did to my knees.

    I think that other folks will make that mistake too.

  15. #15
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    There seems to be conflicting information about recumbent exercise bikes and their effects on knees.

    I've been told by both a sports medicine physician and a physical therapist that they are easier on knees. In fact, they put patients on recumbent exercisers to rehab knee injuries (well, certain types of knee injuries). They have a bank of them at the physical therapy clinic.

    This link says the same:
    http://www.articleavenue.com/article...hread-0-0.html

    However I don't doubt that one could set the resistance too high, or that certain types of knee problems could be aggravated by them.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    There seems to be conflicting information about recumbent exercise bikes and their effects on knees.

    I've been told by both a sports medicine physician and a physical therapist that they are easier on knees. In fact, they put patients on recumbent exercisers to rehab knee injuries (well, certain types of knee injuries). They have a bank of them at the physical therapy clinic.

    This link says the same:
    http://www.articleavenue.com/article...hread-0-0.html

    However I don't doubt that one could set the resistance too high, or that certain types of knee problems could be aggravated by them.
    Tom:
    We do NOT have a difference of opinion. I tested a recumbent and I am convinced that it puts less stress on my system for a specific level of effort.
    However, because of the better back support and the horizontal leg position someone CAN abuse the knees more readily not because of the recumbent but the recumbent makes it possible.
    It would require standing up on an upright bike to generate that level of effort what you can do sitting down on a recumbent. That invites abuse by some ambitious types.
    In other simple words: Do not go 800-1000 calories/hour on a recumbent if you do 300-400 calories/hour on a normal training ride on a road bike.
    Last edited by will dehne; 02-28-07 at 07:52 AM.

  17. #17
    Wheezing Geezer Bud Bent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    Tom:
    We do NOT have a difference of opinion. I tested a recumbent and I am convinced that it puts less stress on my system for a specific level of effort.
    However, because of the better back support and the horizontal leg position someone CAN abuse the knees more readily not because of the recumbent but the recumbent makes it possible.
    It would require standing up on an upright bike to generate that level of effort what you can do sitting down on a recumbent. That invites abuse by some ambitious types.
    In other simple words: Do not go 800-1000 calories/hour on a recumbent if you do 300-400 calories/hour on a normal training ride on a road bike.
    Well said, Will. I hope no one thought I was badmouthing recumbents. I wasn't. I'm riding 5,000 miles a year on my recumbents, and with my cratered back, I don't think there's a gnat's chance that I'd be able to do that on any other kind of bicycle. And there are lots of causes of knee pain. I think everyone here knows that any bike, recumbent or upright, that's not adjusted to fit right, can cause knee pain. But no one in this thread had mentioned the one cause of knee pain that is unique to recumbents, and I thought it needed to be mentioned.
    Bud
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    They told me it's ok to post mileage over in the commuting forum, so you'll probably find me there these days.

  18. #18
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    Bud:
    Let us hope we got the message across. I am always amazed how messages with best intentions go astray. It is the world we live in I think. Everybody has an axe to grind and everybody knows that and expects that.
    Just in case: Recumbent and Elliptical trainers are great exercise machines. Both invite the not so smart ones (like me) to exceed strain levels above what is good for you (it is called enabling). Walking, hiking and biking on a road bike have build in features which make it less likely to do so.
    A metaphor is a ***. Guns do not kill people but its easier to kill people if you have a ***. (now I am in trouble I bet. But we must have some fun)

  19. #19
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    However I don't doubt that one could set the resistance too high, or that certain types of knee problems could be aggravated by them.
    You know, I did say this.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    You know, I did say this.
    Yes Tom. I am not picking on you.
    I will be happy if someone does NOT hurt his/her knee because of this thread. That is all.

  21. #21
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    During my year's experience on a Rans recumbent, I would tend to use too high a gear climbing (getting easily impatient with high speed spinning in those very low gears) because I had that nice seat back to push against. Like doing mini leg presses. I can recall some stiff though not injured knees from such grinding.
    Last edited by CrossChain; 02-28-07 at 11:07 PM.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    During my year's experience on a Rans recumbent, I would tend to use too high a gear climbing (getting easily impatient with high speed spinning in those very low gears) because I had that nice seat back to push against. Like doing mini leg presses. I can recall some stiff though not injured knees from such grinding.
    Hi CC:
    That is perhaps the difference between you and me. Remember, you said that you will watch my CX ride relaxing in your chair? (you said that, not me)
    Well, you put me on your Rans recumbent and I cannot resist finding out how fast it can go and where my limits are. Unfortunately there are few early warning signs before you do some serious damage.
    This thread here is addressed for guys and girls like me, assuming there are some.
    WATCH OUT, IT IS SERIOUS.

  23. #23
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    Hi CC:
    Unfortunately there are few early warning signs before you do some serious damage.
    This thread here is addressed for guys and girls like me, assuming there are some.
    WATCH OUT, IT IS SERIOUS.
    I believe that, while over-use injuries are usually avoidable if we had good sense most of the time, most of us just don't have good sense that often. And besides, I think of all the times we push back personal boundaries by pushing beyond what is "good sense" and gain that sense of achievement. The cost of pushing the envelope is that sometimes it pushes back and we blow out a knee (I've done that skiing), tilt a few vertebrae (done that skiing), end up with road rash (no need to comment), etc.

    But, we usually heal......and then go back to finding that joy-- and perhaps further injuries. Human nature.

    Will, you amaze me. How many other guys in their mid 60's do what you've done and plan on doing? OK, you pushed it and, however it happened, gotten an injury. Time for a period of good sense to promote healing. Then you'll be back, trying to control, successfully or not, that drive to find joy and achievement.

    Unless you get permanently injured, would you be happy any other way? (Were your leg to drop off, you'd probably being doing the wheelchair XC.)
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  24. #24
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    CC:
    You should be a Poet, Writer or Educator

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