cycling · fitness

First time back on the bike

It’s baby steps but I’ve been given the okay to get back on my bike on the trainer.

The goal isn’t some number of kilometres, a given amount of time, or to reach a certain power level

Instead, it’s something much more basic and fundamental. It’s all about regaining enough mobility so that I can make a full rotation of the pedals. It’s range of motion time, baby!

Various guides to knee replacement say to expect a 5 degree improvement in the angle possible for your new knee each week. You need 90 degrees to ride a bike. A goal is 120 if your leg size permits that. Not sure mine does. I was at 52 degrees last week, a few days after surgery, and 67 today eight days after replacement.

But all of these guides to knee replacement say don’t compare your progress to the progress of others. Different people take a different amount of time to get there.

It’s unlikely I’ll be able to that the first few times I try I’ve been told. So no expectations.

Also, even once I can I’m to use the trainer in a very spinny gear, no pressure at all on the pedals.

Whether or not you’re a cyclist the bike trainer is a basic rehab tool after knee replacement surgery. Surgeons and physiotherapists have to talk people who aren’t cyclists to give it a go. It’s easy when the patient’s first question is how soon can I get back on the bike (on the trainer to start.)

It’s all about passive range of motion. Here we go!

Sam on her trainer
accessibility · fitness · habits · injury · stretching

Recovery and why physio is so hard!

So I am the sort of person who is good at following the advice of physiotherapists. I’ve successfully rehabbed some serious injuries and I trust the professional advice of physiotherapists. I do what I’m told.

It’s also worth noting that I have exceptionally good benefits and they cover almost all of my physio costs. And yet, even for me, physio after knee replacement is tough and I thought I’d explore why.

First, advice about recovering from knee surgery can sound contradictory. The take home sheets from the hospital say to use your new knee as much as possible each day. It will help you heal faster from surgery and improve your chances of long-term success. But also it says to avoid pushing yourself too far too soon. So as much as possible but not too much. Yep.

And practically it feels like that too.

The knee feels good and so I go for a short walk. After that it swells up and is painful so it’s time for ice and elevation. I’m constantly moving between making the knee work and then helping it recover.

After I posted about going for a very short walk this morning, friends commented, great, now rest!

What’s as much as possible but not too much? There’s not really good intuitive measure at this stage since everything hurts a lot of the time.

Second, unlike other physio I’ve done this is really painful. It’s the kind of painful where you ice before and after and take pain medication around your pt sessions. Since you’ve just undergone surgery and things still hurt from that, you feel a bit like hiding on the sofa, covering yourself in blankets, and waiting until the pain goes away.

Third, it’s pretty time consuming.

Here’s a rough schedule of my days this week. Next week I’m hoping to be able to get on the bike trainer to help with my range of motion.

6 am breakfast, drugs, ice and elevation in bed

630 physio round one, basic stretching and mobility

700 more elevation and icing and getting ready for the day

Tiny walk

800 Breakfast round two, more pain meds, more elevation and icing

900 Physio round 2 mobility and stretching plus regaining strength

930 ice and elevation

10-12 free time for reading possibly napping

12-1 lunch

100 ice and elevation, more pain meds

130 Physio round 3, mobility and stretching and regaining strength

200 ice and elevation

230-4 free time for reading and napping etc

4-6 dinner etc

7 last round, 4, of basic mobility physio

Tiny walk #2

Bed with all the ice and more pain meds


That’s me on the deck post tiny walk, resting and icing, as friends and physio advised.

Patience my friends is going to be key.