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Supine cycling

Sarah Tee

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Has anyone tried supine cycling, either at physiotherapy or with your own pedal exercise gadget at home?

I don't have a gadget, I just cycle my legs in the air while lying down, but I find it useful.

I don't have very good core strength (had several abdominal surgeries in my 20s), so I can't keep it up for long.

Was thinking of getting something like the Excy (search "Excy exercise bike" and it should come up), although a less-expensive option would be good.

There is one model that can be used in bed and the other models can be used on the floor.

I imagine you could use a much cheaper one providing you could stabilise it to use while lying down. The only problem might be adjusting the height. (I'm guessing cheaper ones wouldn't be adjustable.)

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@Sarah Tee yes, I use the cycling in bed whenever I am bedbound, and it is very good for both strengthening core and leg muscles. If you can't tolerate it for very long try doind it several times a day - this helps to increase your tolerance. 

I have seen people riding a supine bicycle outside - maybe that would be something for you? You can exercise outside on good weather days?

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I’ve come up with a low-tech workaround – cycling with one leg at a time, keeping the other leg bent at the knee and foot flat on the ground to give the support missing from my core muscles.

Then I swap between legs every 20 moves or so.

Not as smooth as cycling with a gadget, but seems to do the job.

Another option is holding onto my PJ pants to take a bit of the weight so I can do both legs. Not very elegant!

@Pistol, that is a good idea about physio. We have tried a few times with not much effect. A famous expert on my surgery (j-pouch bowel reconstruction) apparently tells his patients not to do strong abdominal exercises ever. Physio has helped me with lots of other things, just not my abdominals. Oh well. And I have to have more surgery soon so who knows what state they will be in after that!

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@Sarah Tee I am so sorry you have to have surgery again! I definitely go back to square one anytime I am sick or bedbound for a while. Surgery especially because of the pain and healing ... but even just wiggling your toes is better than nothing, so try what you can! I was advised to try and write the Alphabet with my feet when in bed for long times, it DOES help with circulation and muscles. Depending on where your surgery is you can even try to do this with the heels off the bed. 

Best of Luck with the surgery, and a speedy recovery! 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hey Sarah, If you are looking for a low-tech & low-cost alternative, there are many online videos for floor exercises that are: 1) free; 2) highly effective; 3) very satisfying. You don't need any spendy machines or gadgets. BUT, you do need to be careful... very, very careful. Those who have hypermobility are prone to serious tendon injuries. I've had great success with yoga and became quite dedicated to it on a daily basis for years. I know from personal experience, if you are super careful, it can be a great form of exercise and will put a smile on your face. If OI is your problem, yoga or pilates is still a good option; skip the standing poses and work on  the floor poses like you describe in your post. There may be days when you can't muster the energy to exercise. That's okay. Allow yourself to take a day off. 

Physiotherapy for me was not a good thing. I tend to have serious tendon injuries and know my limits and danger zones better than a physical therapist will. Plus, it is pretty expensive compared to an online video. 

Finally, early in the pandemic I decided to get a conventional upright spin bike and it is now part of my daily routine. I rarely skip a day and I truly enjoy it. There are days when I am pretty dizzy (OI) and have to hold on with both hands with my bum firmly planted on the seat, but I still use it in spite of the dizzies. If you do decide to go shopping for a cycling rig, look online for used stuff and you can probably save a bunch of money by buying used.

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What I am doing might not work for you. I got cycling equipment designed for sitting. I use it as part of a modified Levine Protocol exercise program. What I got is a Compact Stider. At first, I only used it while sitting. I gradually added longer sessions. Later, I added a rowing machine -  and strength training. Between the exercise program, a beta blocker and diet changes, I can now do the cycling in a standing position. All of this has made a HUGE difference for me. I can now live a somewhat normal life. POTS still hits me a little just to remind me it's still around, but I am amazed at how much more I can do now. Again - this might not work for you. If you can sit to exercise, the InMotion equipment works great.

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