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How to work muscles that don't get the message

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  • How to work muscles that don't get the message

    Hi Everybody! Could I get some suggestions, please?

    I've been riding a stationary exercise bike regularly for a few months now. My system to get to my current point has been to slightly raise the resistance while adding a couple minutes about twice a week. Then I slightly lower the resistance and add 5 minutes. Then I start that process again.

    I'm up to riding for 50 minutes, in 2 sets. One set is 20 minutes while working 4 1/2lb weights in each hand. The other set is 30 minutes while reading a book.

    My legs are getting stronger, I can tell. The problem, and my question, is about my weak right ankle. It gets weak and tries to fall off the pedal towards the end. It just doesn't seem to get any stronger.

    How can I strengthen a muscle that doesn't seem to be getting the message to move?

  • #2
    Hi Sparky, and nice work getting your legs stronger with the incremental increases....Congrats on that.Must feel good!

    When I was getting back to riding shortly after my dx in 2004, I also started on a stationary bike...a Schwinn Airdyne. If my foot was not securely attached, it would, like yours, fall off. Since the Airdyne didn't have any way to attach baskets to the pedals, I just used heavy duty velcro (the black stuff) on the pedals. Put the gripper part on the pedals, and I designated an old pair of sneakers to put the soft, walkable part on the ball of each sole. It was like "clipping in" and helped me ride longer. But I will tell you that while it got my right leg stronger, the issue with falling off the pedal if not attached remains the same. Never has been any change. For me, it is the part of MS that I have to accept that I cannot change, but with adaptations, I can ride again. I always clipped in pre-MS, and even now that I am ride the trike I continue to clip in as it would be really disasterous if my foot fell while cycling. Hope this helps!
    Be thankful. Dream Big. Never Give Up.


    • #3
      Thank you, Veronica! It always helps to get any response!

      That is a fear of mine, that nothing will change the ankle weakness. My SO also suggested a basket but I'm not ready to give in just yet.


      • #4
        Hey Sparky, First off, 50 minutes is a huge accomplishment, give yourself the credit you deserve for getting there, it really is a big deal, most of the people in this country couldnít do that.

        Here is a list of things you might consider.
        1) Your local PT might be able to help you isolate the weakness and design some exercises to attempt to deal with it. Itís worth a shot on your next visit.

        2) An entirely different exercise might help, stair climbing, elliptical, squats, lunges ...

        3) It doesnít sound like orthotics would apply here but itís something to keep in mind in case you come across other weaknesses that need to be addressed. The right orthotic in the right situation can help develop strength in addition to preventing injury.

        4) If your spin bike will take a regular bike pedal, clipless pedals are a good idea on several fronts. If you canít change the pedals, Veronicaís idea with the velcro is excellent, may be even better than toe clips. Having your foot attached to the pedal will allow you to exercise a number of other muscle groups. In a full pedal stroke you push with the quads on the down stroke, pull back with the calf and hams through the bottom, pull up with the hams and hip flexors on the up stroke and push across the top with the glutes and hip flexors on the top stroke. You can also attempt to stand on the pedals, not to be considered without a good foot to pedal attachment. All of these things will give you a new set of muscles to use. The Forteí Campus pedal from Performance bike has a double sided platform that works great, clip in on one side, regular flat platform on the other side.

        5) While your routine looks great and obviously has taken you far, donít be afraid to try new things as you progress.

        Good luck Sparky,

        Iowa again?


        • #5
          PT exercises

          Agree with above post. My left foot/ankle often feels dead and I get occasional mild foot drop. PT gave me specific exercises using one of those half balance balls, holding on to wall, doing all sorts of leg raises. I find I am able to keep my stirrup horse back riding much better now and no longer need to elastic my boot to the stirrup.
          Callenge life before life challenges you - from inside collar of my "Bike Off More Than You Chew" bike jersey


          • #6
            Wow Larry, thank you for the comprehensive reply! I'll touch a few points:
            1) For various reasons, the PT route is difficult for me.
            2) Several times a day I use a 6-step staircase. I make a point of lifting my toes then standing up on them as far as possible with each step. Sort of a roll maneuver.
            3) I have a great AFO but only use it when walking a distance (like a big casino). I'd rather exercise the ankle than immobilize it. Is that wrong?

            You asked "Iowa again?" Been here in Iowa for 6 years. Love it!

            Cl3me, I rode horses before I moved to Iowa. I too had trouble keeping my foot in the stirrup. Good that you found something to help!


            • #7
              Originally posted by Sparky10 View Post
              I have a great AFO but only use it when walking a distance (like a big casino). I'd rather exercise the ankle than immobilize it. Is that wrong?
              No, not wrong, in fact I generally share the same sentiment. But I did use an AFO to help me start standing on my bike pedals to climb and it only took about 6 weeks. It helped me control a knee locking problem, overcome severe foot drop and strengthen the weakness in my bad leg. I still have all of those problems but to a significantly less extent. Most of the time I don't need the AFO now although I do occasionally use it in certain situations.

              Originally posted by Sparky10 View Post
              You asked "Iowa again?" Been here in Iowa for 6 years. Love it!
              I thought you moved to Denver, my mistake?



              • #8
                Hi Sparky,

                Ditto to all above.

                I don't have much to add except your workout sounds amazing.

                Keep it up and join us on MSers in training.

                Take care,

                Teena Marie