Do Stationary Bikes Strain Calves?

Do Stationary Bikes Strain Calves?

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Using the stationary bike is easy on your bones, making it ideal for older exercisers.

Barry Austin/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The stationary bike offers a low-impact workout and is easy on the joints, making it ideal for those who suffer from joint pain and inflammation. This allows people who are at risk of joint injury to improve heart function, blood circulation and lose weight through aerobic exercise. The stationary bike allows you to pedal at high speeds for an intense workout, but improper technique while cycling puts undue stress on the calves and can lead to injury.

Identify Strained Calf Muscles

The calf muscle is located at the back of your lower leg and is made up of two muscles. The gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calves connect to the Achilles tendon, which inserts into the heel bone. The calf muscles pull the heel up when you cycle on a stationary bike, but when you stretch the muscles too far, it can lead to strained calf muscles. Calf muscle strains can range from a mild tear in the muscle tissue to a partial or complete tear of the calf muscles, which can be painful.

Straining Your Calves

With improper technique you can strain your calf muscles beyond their limits on a stationary bike. Simply pointing your feet upward while cycling extends your heels, which can lead to overstretching and a tear in the calf muscles. Muscle weakness from overtraining, stiff muscles from improper warm-up or overexerting yourself when exercising increases the risk of straining your calf muscles.

Cycle Like a Pro

If using an upright bike, set the seat at hip height before you take a seat. Sit on the bike and put your feet into the pedals and strap them in a snug fit to prevent extending your feet. You should only be able to bend your knees slightly and cycle without having to point your toes upward. Set the bike at a low to medium resistance level if you struggle to maintain form on a higher level. Another option is a stationary recumbent bike, which is in a laid-back reclining position. This type of bike can help relieve stress on the calves.

Prepare Your Calf Muscles

Warming up for at least five minutes before beginning your workout will increase your muscle flexibility, which will reduce the chances of straining your calf muscles. Warm-up exercises can include jogging or cycling moderately, and calisthenics such as jumping jacks and pushups. Maintain muscle strength with calf raises to prevent muscle strains. Perform calf raises by positioning the balls of your feet on an aerobic step. Place your hand on a wall or support beam for balance, then raise your heels by extending your ankles. Lower your heels in a controlled manner to complete one rep, then repeat for a total of 10 reps, and two or three sets.


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