DENVER – Those recovering from knee injuries might do well to heed research being presented today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 58th Annual Meeting and 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine®. Those who pedaled backward on treadmills and elliptical machines tended to do better than those who pedaled forward, as measured by muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.
“The results were very encouraging,” said Elmarie Terblanche, Ph.D., lead author of this study. “Participants who used backward locomotion showed significantly greater gains in quadriceps and hamstring strength. Additionally, they had greater aerobic capacity than the forward-locomotion group.”
Thirty-nine subjects with various knee injuries were randomly divided into forward- and backward-pedaling groups. All completed 24 supervised rehabilitation sessions which included (in addition to the forward- or backward-pedaling cardiovascular exercise) exercises to enhance strength, balance and flexibility.
While the two groups exhibited little difference in balance and flexibility after 24 sessions, those who pedaled backward averaged about nine percent greater aerobic capacity. They also measured higher in improvements in quadriceps and hamstring strength.
“So many people suffer knee injuries, whether through sports participation or activities of daily living,” said Terblanche. “It can be a significant aid in rehabilitation to know how to most efficiently strengthen the joints and muscles after injury. We say, do it backward!”