If you are a female athlete you’ve heard this saying all the time: “Female athletes are 2-8 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury.” It is very likely that you, a teammate or a friend has injured his or her ACL in the past and had to undergo surgery. The recovery process after surgery can take anywhere form six months to a year. It is several long months of patient recovery where you can’t even start jogging until month three.
After I tore my ACL for the second time, I used biking as my number one go-to for recovery. Granted I wasn’t out in the woods dodging roots on my mountain bike and climbing rocky hills, I was just on a stationary bike. But, whether it is a stationary bike or not, the benefits of biking are endless for recovery.
Biking is a low impact sport which is incredibly beneficial for someone with knee pain. Pedaling builds strength in all areas around your knee, firing muscles that have been complacent for weeks after surgery. Pedaling also increases flexibility and helps bring back full-range of motion in your leg. Biking gives you the flexibly to pedal for enjoyment or ramp it up for a full-fledged workout that is great for cross-training.
It is all about you and how much of a workout you want. Whether injured or not, several athletes use biking as a fill-in workout on off days because it quickly gets the heart rate up and keeps the fluids moving.
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If you’re looking for a good recovery, consider interval training on a bike. You want to aim for pedaling for 45-60 minutes incorporating some climbs as well as flat-road sprints. Your climbs should be around 1-3 minutes with recovery time around one minute. Usually interval or endurance workouts on bikes will be in replacement of another workout, however lots of athletes hop on stationary bikes before practice and games for 10 minutes or less to get the legs warm.
If you are using biking in preparation for a more strenuous workout later, make sure you keep your resistance low but not so low you’re bouncing out of the seat.
When you walk into a college sports training room, or check out the sidelines of professional sports, you always see a couple stationary bikes. Biking has become the go-to exercise for recovery as well as an essential cardiovascular activity for athletes to use prior to competition.