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Recumbent Bike Physical Therapy

Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Jeff

It’s common to use a recumbent bike for physical therapy. The bike is a great rehabilitation aid for the lower-body.

Recovery after surgery is a painful process. The recumbent bike provides a safe and comfortable way to strengthen and tone the muscles. 

Healing is hardly ever easy, but it can at least be a little less painful.

In this article, we discuss how recumbent bikes can restore mobility and promote healing.

Recumbent Bike For Rehabilitation

Which Parts of The Body Does a Recumbent Bike Target?

The recumbent bike targets the lower body, namely the muscles in the legs. 

It tones and strengthens:

  • Quads
  • Hamstring
  • Shins
  • Glutes
  • Calves

While there are brands that have handles for toning the arms, the overall focus is on the legs.

Being able to modify the resistance is an important factor when it comes to physical therapy and rehabilitation. 

You should exercise at a pace that your healing body can handle. As your range of motion improves, you can increase the resistance on the bike.

Recumbent bikes are great for resistance training. You can adjust the seat to increase resistance as needed. And not only forward and backward either; the incline can be adjusted as well. 

Resistance training strengthens and tones muscles which helps to maintain flexibility. This is not only important for rehab patients, but for everyone. 

Recumbent Exercise Bike For Physical Therapy

There is no “one size fits all” scenario when it comes to exercise. This is even more true for physical therapy, rehabilitation, and pain management. 

The recumbent bicycle won’t work for all injuries and surgeries. It focuses on the lower body and is perfect for the rehabilitation of the lower back, hips, and legs. 

A recumbent bike is great for physical therapy because:

  • It’s low impact which means less stress on the joints and easier for those with pain.
  • The larger seat is comfortable and provides even weight distribution.
  • The backrest supports the entire back and shoulders, preventing upper body fatigue.
  • It’s easily adjustable and the resistance can be decreased or increased. This is important for those who have had surgery. Starting slow and easy is better.

It will help with:

  • Hip pain
  • Pain in the lower joints
  • Knee pain
  • Certain types of back pain

Be sure that any inflammation has gone down before attempting any exercise. This will reduce the risk of further injury. 

Recumbent Bike for the Hips

It might not seem like it but the recumbent bike is good for hip pain. It has proven to increase mobility in those who have had a hip injury or surgery. 

This is why it is common to use a recumbent bike after hip replacement

Because this bike is low impact, you won’t have to worry about twisting your hip joints. Circulation and elasticity are increased without any pain. This then improves the range of motion and flexibility of the hips. 

Pedaling backward is a good way to start since there is less pressure that way. This will give you the opportunity to increase your range of motion slowly. 

You need to focus on moving the healing leg while using less force with the healthy one. This will cause a gradual strengthening of the healing leg.

Recumbent Bike for the Knees 

Recumbent Bike Physical Therapy


If you have had a recent knee surgery your doctor will likely recommend a recumbent bike for knee rehab.

Not only is a recumbent bike good for knee pain, but it will also strengthen the knee. This is necessary to get your leg back in proper working condition. 

Using a recumbent bike after knee replacement is essential. 

Your range of motion after a knee replacement is limited. And exercising for the first time will seem scary because of the pain.

With low-impact exercise, you can strengthen the knee without the pain. There is no strain on the joints and no risk of injury. 

The large seat is comfortable and safer than an upright bike. You can get on and off without the risk of falling. 

The adjustable seat allows you to set your own pace for healing. Push the seat backward until your legs are fully extended and remove the pedal straps. 

The healing knee will need as little flexing as possible in the beginning. You can do this by placing the heel (or as close to it) on the pedal. You might not be able to do a full rotation at first but that is normal. 

Once your range of motion improves, you can place the ball of your foot on the pedal.

Recumbent Bike for the Back 

Recumbent bikes are good for back pain like sciatica. But they will not help every type of back problem. 

For example, is a recumbent good for spinal stenosis? The answer is no. You would need an upright bike for this since leaning forward would be more comfortable. 

It’s best to use a recumbent bike for lower back pain. If you find the reclining position to be uncomfortable, then this bike is not for you.

Recumbent Bike for Stroke Patients

Cardio exercise after a stroke is essential in restoring mobility and cognitive function. 

As we stated above, the recumbent bike is safer and more comfortable. This is important for stroke patients who have mobility and balance problems. You can add a seatbelt as an extra safety measure as well. 

It’s less strenuous on the joints and tendons, and there is less upper body fatigue.

All of the points we mentioned above apply to stroke patients too. The recumbent bike will:

  • Tone and strengthen the lower body,
  • Improve range of motion and mobility,
  • Improve circulation and flexibility.

Not all stroke patients will have the same level of mobility. Some are able to walk perfectly well, while others lose almost all mobility. 

The recumbent bicycle is suitable for all patients. 

Are Recumbent Bikes Effective?

Recumbent bikes are effective. Physical therapists often recommend them to strengthen muscles and aid healing. 

It’s a safe and comfortable way to ease into exercising during rehabilitation. The risk of strain or injury is low and the benefits are numerous. 

Remember to speak to your doctor before starting any exercise. Follow the instructions and don’t push yourself. 

In conclusion, recumbent bikes are excellent physical therapy aids. With its focus on the leg muscles, this bike is ideal for lower-body rehabilitation.