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Author Topic: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?  (Read 1572 times)

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Offline nick777vvv

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Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« on: August 09, 2012, 10:54:08 PM »
Hi

I have a 'crunchy knee' when walking downstairs. No real pain, but a bit of a burning sensation and doesn't feel at all right. Anyway, I'm getting it checked out but have got to wait a month before I see the doctor, let alone a specialist...

Now I do go to the gym a couple of times a week and usually use the various leg machines. My aim is to help build up the leg muscle so as to take pressure off the knee. Problem is I don't really know whether I'm doing good or simply exacerbating my condition.

So, my question is...which gym machines should be safe to use and which should I most likely avoid? These are the machines at my disposal:

Seated leg press (bent knee to straight leg)
Leg curl (sitting, straight leg and pulling back)
Leg extension (sitting, legs bent and then raising to straight leg)
Abductor machine
Adductor machine
Stationery bike

All of these have variable weights.

I know I'm not giving you too much to go on but I'd like to continue to strengthen the surrounding muscles if I can - just don't want to go one step forward and two steps back though, whilst I wait for my appointment...

Which do you think I'd be safe to continue to use...and any I should really avoid...?

Many thanks
Nick

Offline maryc

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Re: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2012, 11:16:10 PM »
My PT told me that after a knee injury the Leg Extension machine was a no no - do straight leg extensions as a floor exercise and if needed add ankle weights.  All the others were okayed from the time I started PT. 
Other "things my PT told me":
increase the sets by 1 and the reps by 5 before you increase the weight, then go back to the original set/rep count. 
On the leg press, do not fully extend your leg, keep about a 3-5% bend, never lock your leg on a leg press. 
For the leg curl make sure that the rotation gears line up with the bend in your leg.
Push to the "ouch" but never push though the pain.
Hope this helps
Sending healing rays your way
8/4/07 fell
8/5 diagnosed TPF
8/6 surgery plate and 6 screws
8/12 out of hospital NWM
8/21 staples removed
9/18 OS appt - WBAT with crutches
10/10 - WBAT with cane
10/27 - back to work w/cane
12/26 - no cane, slight limp when tired
1/25/08 - released from PT, no limp
2/3/09 - Released by OS

Offline allyd

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Re: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 02:40:05 AM »
Agreed - stay away from the leg extensions. they are terrible on knees. The rest are all okay, and used regularly in a PT office. Just watch your form more so than wrorrying about adding weight. Instinct says add weight as it will add strength - which can be counterproductive, and make all of the listed machines bad for your knees.

Don't be afraid to work in some mat work and squats/lunges if your knee can handle it. This is sometimes a better starting point than the machines. Rule of thumb on squats/lunges - knees don't go past your toes. Step back on lunges, not forward.
04/09 RK - Dislocated Patella & Grade III MCL Tear
06/10 RK - Re-Dislocation Patella
09/11 RK - MPFLr + Lateral Lengthening

Offline Lottiefox

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Re: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 08:16:01 AM »
All good advice - definitely avoid the leg extension machine - and try and get a trainer to watch your form so they can correct. The littlest adjustments can really help with the pressure on the knees. Fixed weight machines are useful to a degree but as soon as you can manage it work on some functional movements like mini squats, wall squats with a ball behind you, lying side leg raises, glute bridges etc....these will force your muscles to work more effectively along with the supporting muscles to assist things like balance. Even standing on one leg doing light bicep curls is a great knee exercises as you are forced to stablise through core and little leg muscles. I'm much more of a fan of exercises out of machines that force you to work in a line with the machine not your body...but they can useful alongside a proper tailored programme.
Bilateral patella OA since 2009, no surgeries.
Euflexxa working well x3 to current
Right forefoot CRPS post fusion surgery 2011
Refusing to let the ailing parts stop me....

Offline kneepaincure

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Re: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 09:36:00 AM »
Depending on which muscle groups need work, your PT will probably prescribe exercises that can be done without machines first. Then you could move on to the machines which would be tougher exercises. And contrary to the 3 posters above, my experience with leg extensions has been and continues to be very positive (among other exercises of course), but it depends on what your PT thinks is best for you.

You could try swimming as well and see if it helps. I think biking will not be too hard on the knees too.
Have had tilted kneecaps for many years, and occasional patellar tendinitis.

Offline Lottiefox

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Re: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 12:59:25 PM »
I think the issue with the leg extension machine is that if you use it when your muscles are supporting your kneecap well enough then you're just loading up a sheering force onto areas of potential damage. However, with proper control and muscles that actually extend the leg as nature intended, the kneecap might not grind or catch...hence using them can be helpful for some folks....it kind of shows why you really need a decent PT or at least functional trainer assessment. Internet is no place for advice on rehab in honesty!  :P
Bilateral patella OA since 2009, no surgeries.
Euflexxa working well x3 to current
Right forefoot CRPS post fusion surgery 2011
Refusing to let the ailing parts stop me....

Offline allyd

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Re: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 02:36:07 PM »
Personally, I never had adverse problems when using the leg extensions. I used to do them all the time with, until I knew better. They just arenít good for your knees. All the stress is placed  on the knee joint - the quads have been so isolated there isnít any other muscle groups working in support. There is better/safer ways to achieve the same strength.

I sort of agree with Lottie foxÖ it is really hard for us to give you solid advice on where to start. The state of your knee and leg strength will determine this. You need someone to work with you 1 on 1 and assess, watch your form and go from there. PT programs usually like kneepain says build from a basic level to a more advanced.

But the basic answer to your question remains: the machines are safe for your knee if used properly.
04/09 RK - Dislocated Patella & Grade III MCL Tear
06/10 RK - Re-Dislocation Patella
09/11 RK - MPFLr + Lateral Lengthening

Offline nick777vvv

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Re: Variable weight Gym Machines - to use or avoid?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2012, 08:00:26 AM »
Thanks all for your input.

My plan is to carry on with the machines but easy on the weights, supplement with free weight exercises and probably avoid leg extensions until the diagnosis is clear.

Best regards, Nick