Biomechanics of Counterweighted One-Legged Cycling

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 Michigan Technological University
  • | 2 Kent State University
  • | 3 Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • | 4 University of Utah
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One-legged cycling has served as a valuable research tool and as a training and rehabilitation modality. Biomechanics of onelegged cycling are unnatural because the individual must actively lift the leg during flexion, which can be difficult to coordinate and cause premature fatigue. We compared ankle, knee, and hip biomechanics between two-legged, one-legged, and counterweighted (11.64 kg) one-legged cycling. Ten cyclists performed two-legged (240 W), one-legged (120 W), and counterweighted one-legged (120 W) cycling (80 rpm). Pedal forces and limb kinematics were recorded to determine work during extension and flexion. During counterweighted one-legged cycling relative ankle dorsiflexion, knee flexion, and hip flexion work were less than one-legged but greater than two-legged cycling (all P < .05). Relative ankle plantar flexion and hip extension work for counterweighted one-legged cycling were greater than one-legged but less than two-legged cycling (all P < .05). Relative knee extension work did not differ across conditions. Counterweighted one-legged cycling reduced but did not eliminate differences in joint flexion and extension actions between one- and two-legged cycling. Even with these differences, counterweighted one-legged cycling seemed to have advantages over one-legged cycling. These results, along with previous work highlighting physiological characteristics and training adaptations to counterweighted one-legged cycling, demonstrate that this exercise is a viable alternative to one-legged cycling.

Steven J. Elmer is with the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI. John McDaniel is with the Department of Exercise Physiology, Kent State University, Kent, OH; and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cleveland, OH. James C. Martin is with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

Address author correspondence to Steven J. Elmer at selmer@mtu.edu.
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