Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

Loss of strength/function in left leg

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Old 11-28-17, 02:56 PM
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Phamilton
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Loss of strength/function in left leg

Hello, all.

I previously posted about this in "fitting your bike" but am now wondering if I should have posted here first.

Around 5 years ago, I had a malignant tumor removed from my left adductor(s). The surgery also removed nearly all the muscle group as well. I can get around OK and at a glance, someone watching me walk/ride would probably not be able to tell that there is a limitation but I can sure feel it.

With the cycling miles really racking up as we are now car-free (and I didn't ride much before and am now averaging 150-175ish miles a week), the differences in strength/flexibility between the legs are coming into sharper relief.

Curious if anyone else has had a similar injury/procedure and how to manage the pain/weakness/fatigue/fit/etc. My biggest problem FEELS like the left leg just can't/won't ever be able to match the power output of the right, but there are other anxiety-inducing thoughts like if I work the left leg too much or in the wrong way, will I be further harming my mobility?

What kind of professional could I seek advice from? An ortho? There was no physical therapy prescribed after my surgery which seemed strange, but everything about that experience was super strange, e.g. I was diagnosed with incurable/untreatable lymphedema after the surgery but after removing the wraps against my doctor's recommendation the swelling went down inside of a week, never to return. In fact, nearly everything about the experience made it seem like the doctors simply had no idea what they were doing or talking about. Very discouraging, but it has always worked out in my favor. I don't believe in miracles.

Sorry for that little digression.

Thanks so much in advance. I feel a little silly for posting here as there are so many who have functional impairments much more serious than mine.
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Old 11-28-17, 07:15 PM
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I'm happy to hear that the surgery was successful in solving the tumor issue, and sorry to hear thst you're now having issues with the results.

FWIW - I'm not surprised that the doctors seem less than knowledgeable. Medicine is one of the few endeavors that found it necessary to coin important sounding words that really mean "I don't know".

I suggest to arrange a visit with someone knowledgeable in sports medicine, or maybe a rehab specialist who is familiar with the type of surgery.

These guys are the most knowledgeable about problems like yours. They may not be able to offer much by way of improving the leg strength, but at the very least, they'll help you manage the imbalance, and offer some peace of mind about how much cycling may or may not be too much.

BTW - before seeing anyone about this, ask your old doctor for whatever he has regarding exactly what was done. Having the records will save you time and expense getting the new guys up to speed.
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Old 11-29-17, 05:31 AM
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Have you thought about an ebike?

While there are those who shun the ebike, your situation is such that a center
drive model would address.

The power(40 - 60 nm of torque) come from the motor, but the spin comes from you.

Augmenting your abilities.

On of the best things a cyclist can do is keeping their cadence
up to a point of comfort, and spin efficiently, that is in complete circles.
While it doesn't require a great deal of strength to spin the cranks, it does to
propel the bicycle and rider forward.

The centerdrive motor augments this spin, the gearing on the bicycle allows
you to manage the strength aspect.

And I don't believe and centerdrive models are available with a a throttle - to "cheat"!

Anything to get more "butts on bikes"
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Old 11-29-17, 08:01 AM
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The biggest thing I can say is to be careful and aware of what you do to your "good" leg. Since my amputation (on left side as well) I have built a great deal of strength in the "bad" leg, but mechanical differences alone cause the strength level to be a percentage of what the other leg is. Given where my residual hits the socket on the pedal stroke and those differences in strength I would guess that I do about 75% right leg/25% left. One of the most important aspects I have found is to keep doing stretches that are possible, particularly to the IT bands, keep my knee wrapped when it's even a HINT of cool out, and to be in a super low gear on takeoff so as not to "twinge" my knee getting started.

My recurring issue is that when I ride a lot (which has been about a year) it tends to pull my hips out of alignment and causes some pretty severe lower back discomfort. The stretches help but it does turn into a trip to the chiro from time to time.

As to going to see a doctor or specialist about it....my thoughts are you will be paying someone to tell you the obvious. If the muscle group is gone I don't see what physical therapy is going to do about it, and likely why they didn't send you. As to the flexibility issue I would suggest checking YouTube (etc) first and see if you can find some stretches that work for you. Consider perhaps a yoga class or the like? Hard to say as I physically cannot do many of the stretches and exercise routines that would help with my flexibility issues.

You will certainly face future mobility issues. You will face future issues in your good leg simply due to the increased wear and tear you are putting on it. The option is to "stop living", which really isn't an option at all. No point in sitting around waiting for what will happen to happen. Deal with it each step of the way and devise ways to overcome it, if you can.

All in all, best of luck to you and keep at it.
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Old 12-04-17, 08:39 AM
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Thank you folks for the advice and encouragement.

Juan Foote (love the clever handle btw) - I've found some yoga routines on Youtube and we have a membership at our local Y where I can join free yoga classes... I must find the motivation to start utilizing these tools.

I did fit some toe clips/straps to my bike this weekend. It made for improvements in several ways, but I think the most significant is how it helps to balance the strength/flexibility disparity between my legs. I'd never used any retention prior to this, and am adding it to the list of things I should have been doing 10 years ago.
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Old 12-08-17, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by 100bikes View Post
While there are those who shun the ebike, your situation is such that a center
drive model would address.

The power(40 - 60 nm of torque) come from the motor, but the spin comes from you.

Augmenting your abilities.

On of the best things a cyclist can do is keeping their cadence
up to a point of comfort, and spin efficiently, that is in complete circles.
While it doesn't require a great deal of strength to spin the cranks, it does to
propel the bicycle and rider forward.

The centerdrive motor augments this spin, the gearing on the bicycle allows
you to manage the strength aspect.

And I don't believe and centerdrive models are available with a a throttle - to "cheat"!

Anything to get more "butts on bikes"
My move to an e-bike was following a horror car crash where i suffered 13 fractures.

I'd never considered one before, but everything i knew about bikes, and thought i knew about e-bikes, went out the window.

I went with hub drive, and the utterly consistent power delivery is so much more tractable, that the 6-speed tarmac-tyred step-through e-bike was taking me up steeper muddy embankments than my 27-speed knobbly-tyred Merlin could manage.

A year later and i'm all healed, and i've grown out of the 15mph speed limit of my old one. So i've built a new one.
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Old 12-15-17, 10:12 PM
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I would recommend a physical therapist or rehab specialist. You may want to ask for names of physical therapists in cycling groups in your area and find one who really understands cycling.

The advice from FBinNY is good, get the detailed records from your surgery.
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Old 09-16-18, 01:21 AM
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I had a lot change in my life after I turned 30, due to an accident, which left me partially paralyzed on my right side. It took me several months to recover from the fall, and I had to undergo surgery on my lower back. But the nerve damage was too great and I lost feeling on my right side. The nerves were gone. It took me a very long time to even think about getting back on the bike, although I felt motivated to do it, I didn't have the support to honestly, jump start myself to get on it. Physical therapy certainly helped me. At the same time, I had therapists who understood paralysis and even though you're working the muscles at your sessions, sometimes the psychological effects from your injury fuels fear.

All I can tell you is start slow. Don't try too hard at first. If you have someone with you, like a friend, or a spouse or someone who cares about you around to help you, that is very helpful. When you have an injury which changes you, that support means everything. You're not going to go fast once you get on the bike, so don't think about it, if you can avoid it. Just going on the sidewalk, or riding around your driveway can be motivating. It's also very good to combat depression.

I can tell you this much. Despite the fact I lost muscle on my right leg, and I've changed physically, I am still motivated to get on the bike for I remember how it made me feel; free, calm and happy. That's a far greater goal than winning a race.

JM
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Old 09-17-18, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Writenride View Post
I had a lot change in my life after I turned 30, due to an accident, which left me partially paralyzed on my right side. It took me several months to recover from the fall, and I had to undergo surgery on my lower back. But the nerve damage was too great and I lost feeling on my right side. The nerves were gone. It took me a very long time to even think about getting back on the bike, although I felt motivated to do it, I didn't have the support to honestly, jump start myself to get on it. Physical therapy certainly helped me. At the same time, I had therapists who understood paralysis and even though you're working the muscles at your sessions, sometimes the psychological effects from your injury fuels fear.

All I can tell you is start slow. Don't try too hard at first. If you have someone with you, like a friend, or a spouse or someone who cares about you around to help you, that is very helpful. When you have an injury which changes you, that support means everything. You're not going to go fast once you get on the bike, so don't think about it, if you can avoid it. Just going on the sidewalk, or riding around your driveway can be motivating. It's also very good to combat depression.

I can tell you this much. Despite the fact I lost muscle on my right leg, and I've changed physically, I am still motivated to get on the bike for I remember how it made me feel; free, calm and happy. That's a far greater goal than winning a race.

JM
Thanks for the kind note. This has prompted me to update this post in the near future.
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