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Knee News

Maintaining Aerobic Conditioning After Knee Surgery in Athletes

Athletes are often unable to maintain fitness when recovering from surgery. This can cause physical decline and set them back. In this study, researchers compare ways to keep up with muscular and cardiorespiratory deconditioning. Treatment with two forms of aerobic exercises were compared.

Fourteen male soccer players recovering from knee surgery were tested after using an arm-cranking device and after performing a one-leg cycling activity. The arm-cranking device involved the use of both arms at one time. The one-leg cycle just exercised the leg that wasn't operated on. Both activities were done at a maximal graded aerobic level.

This means their respiratory exchange ratio (RER) was more than 1.10. RER is a measure of gas exchange and cardiopulmonary function. Heart rate was within 10 beats of the predicted maximal level for their age.

Other measures of results included rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and blood samples of blood lactate concentration. RPE is a self-reported sense of how hard the athlete is working while exercising. Numbers along the PRE scale are used to report a range from no exertion to maximal exertion.

Blood lactate concentration is a measure of lactic acid in the blood. It is used to document the lack of oxygen to the muscles. It can be used to monitor the effect of treatment with exercise.

Results showed that either exercise works well for maintaining active muscle mass. Blood lactate levels and PRE were both higher for the arm cranking exercise. This could mean that the arms were getting less blood during the activity compared to the leg during cycling.

The authors suggest using one-leg cycling to maintain fitness for athletes after knee surgery. The cardiopulmonary benefits are equal to the arm exercises. The patient is more comfortable and perhaps more likely to keep up the exercise consistently.

Nicolas Olivier, PhD, et al. One-Leg Cycling Versus Arm Cranking: Which is Most Appropriate for Physical Conditioning After Knee Surgery? In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. March 2008. Vol. 89. No. 3. Pp. 508-512.


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